NZPhotographer Issue 27, January 2020

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The One and Only Thing That Will

Make Your Photography Better

By Ana Lyubich

The title of this article is not original - I

borrowed it from a photography forum as

it grabbed my attention! Reading that post

my hopes and expectations were quickly

dashed as the article quickly narrowed down to

the idea of ‘the only thing you need is practice’.

I couldn’t agree more, but… while practice is

very important and the more you photograph the

more you start seeing photographic opportunities

and start understanding your camera and

exploring creative angles, the only thing that will

make your photographs special and different is

connection. Let me give you an example of what

I mean.

Those of you who live in Wellington will know

that there is an event called “Tulip Sunday” that

happens every year at the Botanical Gardens.

It’s always beautiful and I have been visiting it

every year because I simply love tulips but also

because the event is a dream come true for

photographers who want to practice their skills.

Photographing the same thing every year is a

challenge at the best of times but it is an even

bigger challenge to photograph the same

flowers year after year! I have photos of tulips

taken from all angles - from the top, from the

bottom, from the sides, under, over… you know

what I’m talking about.

So this year I was a bit anxious, not knowing

how to photograph the tulips in a different way,

despite having had a lot of practice. I decided

I’d just walk around to see if I could spot a new

angle, perhaps I’d be able to get inspiration after

watching other photographers.

What I accidentally discovered not only surprised

me but has since changed the whole course of

my flower photography. In all those wonderful

beautiful flower beds full of tulips I saw it. I

saw the one. That one tulip that wasn’t like all

the others - it wasn’t super pretty, it was even

a bit out of place, but it was beautiful in all

its weirdness. I started photographing it and

I couldn’t get enough, that’s when I started

looking around for other odd or blemished

beauties and realised they are everywhere - We

just don’t tend to see them as we are blinded

by the ‘standard’ beauty and stereotypes. It has

now become my mission to find the most unique

looking flowers and show how beautiful their

uniqueness is.

Back to the topic of what will make your

photographs better. That special connection

that I now have with my ‘unique’ flowers is

an example of what I was talking about. A

photograph is just an image until you connect

with the subject on a special new-dimensional

level at which point it becomes reflected in your

images.

Technically, there will always be photographers

who are better and indeed worse than you but

we cannot and should not compare ourselves

with others. Even if you have the same camera

and accessories, are at the same place at the

same time, with the same light, you and another

photographer next to you will take photographs

that will look different. Why? Because there is a

reflection of the ‘inner you’ in each photograph

you take which is quite obvious to the viewer,

believe me.

Like fingerprints, there are no two identical

photographs. Photography taps into your heart

and the better understanding of yourself and

what you are trying to photograph and achieve

with your shots, the better photographer you will

become (note that I didn’t say ‘the better your

photography will become’!).

Many of us have made new year resolutions

so if photography is on that list for you, forget

about comparing yourself to others, forget about

influencers and think first of what you want to

photograph, how you can do that, and then try

to capture and create something unique.

Even though a photographer consciously

photographs an object or landscape or anything

else, in the end, it is always his or her personality

that creates the interpretation that gives each

image its individual power. And only as a result

of that, does a photograph resonate with the

viewer.

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NZPhotographer

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