I returned home from the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) Event conference in Perth Western Australia a little over a week and a half ago where I was presenting on both Polar Wildlife Photography and Extreme Latitude landscape photography over the course of two days during the event. This was a really fantastic conference to attend and over the course of the four days I was in Perth I met some really fantastic people and was not only afforded the opportunity to talk about my photography, but also to network with the trade (an opportunity I do not often get because of my travel commitments).What was really fascinating for me (and it has taken me a few days to come to this realisation) is that during the course of the two one and half hour seminars I presented there were almost no questions about which cameras I had used to make the photographs. This was an incredibly refreshing revelation and has in many ways re-envigorated my enthusiasm for sharing my photography. Instead, questions ranged from how to expose in these extreme environments to what sort of clothing I wear and how to prepare for this sort of photography as well as what I look for when I press the shutter. In this era of gear fascination that dominates all things photography (particularly in social media and forum circles) this was quite honestly an incredibly refreshing revelation. I feel as photographers (be it professional or amateur) we tend to get far to focused on equipment in the pursuit of better photographs. We constantly chase the next new thing in the belief it will improve our photography when the reality is it likely will do little for our photography other than drain our wallets.
I read a very interesting article a few weeks back on the pursuit of material possessions in our daily lives and how the scales for the majority of people are skewed towards acquiring and owning ‘things’ rather than having ‘experiences’. Whilst I cannot recall the exact website where I came across the article it struck a chord with me and I think there are some really interesting parallels we can draw with photography.
The idea of owning a new piece of camera equipment is very appealing to photographers (myself included). We get drawn into the marketing hype and specification creep of new models and before we know it we are caught in a never ending upgrade cycle that does little to nothing to improve our image making. It is the pursuit of material things in a false belief. Granted, there are occasions when a new piece of equipment does offer a quantifiable increase in quality of image making – but those instances are rare and more often than not the opposite in fact occurs as we struggle with the new equipment. I have written about this phenomena before in a series of Articles on creating photographs with Mystery and Emotion and the problem of our brain focusing on working as a technician, rather than working creatively.
I would advocate that we would be better off diverting our attention and efforts (at least some of them) toward experiences and education. In particular experiences and education that will likely improve our image making. To this end I am going to share a few of the discussion points from my lectures at the Event here on my blog over the course of the coming days – the first of which will be a sure fire way to improve your wildlife photography without spending much money. Stay tuned.