Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Art of the Snapshot

The Snow Job

I know... I know! You must be wondering why I'm featuring a shot from last February, when we're just beginning to enjoy the humid comforts of a late summer. Well, my topic is Snapshots - again. And this picture, for some reason popped into my mind as a perfect example of a Snapshot that was taken, at least this year, even though it was in February. Like I said in my earlier post, the main ingredient is "love", in the sense that snap-shooters "do it for love". In this case, I love the way my town clears away the snow banks so quickly, and I also love machinery in action. So, in the form of a true snap-shooter, I spontaneously went out and took pictures of the snow clearing operation in action. Absolutely no professionalism, no aspirations, no pay, and even though I used my DSLR for this, it would've been just as good if I had used a much cheaper camera.

Here then is a warmer example^

I have to admit, of every photo genre, I still like the snapshot most of all. I like the spontaneity, the simple stories, the anti-professionalism and the aesthetic. I also like what differentiates the snapshot from everything else that comes close to it. Unlike Street Photography, it doesn't have to be about being in the middle of the action on a busy city street. The idea of the snapshot is that it can be taken literally anywhere. Unlike Lomography, the snapshot doesn't have to be deliberately shoddy and unpredictable because a toy camera is used. Equipment doesn't matter at all, although if you're into snap-shooting, one could be over-equipped I suppose.

Finally, when you come right down to it, snap-shooting is about all that I do. I've never used a studio or special lighting - always available light, occasionally with flash-fill, I've only shot one wedding, and by my own estimation, it was a failure. I don't do videos, sports or photojournalism, so I don't need all the good camera features that enable these. In other words, I'm no aspiring Pro! Don't ever forget - with this blog, I write about being a non-professional, and if you're looking for professional advice - look elsewhere. This blog is about how to be the anti-professional, non-aspiring photographer.

It occurred to me just yesterday as I was daydreaming, (which is one thing I'm really really good at), that even though I'm thoroughly familiar with a camera and it's mathematics of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, flash-sync, etc. I mostly use my cameras in "snapshot mode". I don't mean "green box" mode; I mean I usually set up for normal exposure and long field depth, so that the camera isn't focussing on the wrong thing, but is simply focussing on everything. This makes the camera ready for any shot, with no delays from the auto-focus... or, I abandon auto-focus completely, and use an old manual lens and pre-focus it for maximum depth.

In other words, I am very over-equipped. All I really need is a Russian FED-Zorki with two or three LTM lenses for it. When I think about all of the equipment I've got, I feel uneasy - almost pressured by the question - "why aren't I aspiring to be doing more with my photography?" But when I think about owning just one camera system, based on the Russian Leica copies to shoot only one roll of film per month, I feel totally at peace. The reason for this is - that's the way I shoot 95% of the time, with a few exceptions - music festivals, car shows and cat shows. For these, I need to rapidly shoot a lot of pictures with a wide aperture - and the DSLR is what makes the most sense here.

I've decided to be a snap-shooter, and that makes me feel great! We'll be hitting the road sometime this month, and I promise lot's of great summertime snapshots.

Don't forget to look at my Print Catalogue. You can reach me by email at average_saxon@hotmail.com

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