Am I a photographer? / by Kaspars Dzenis

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 Everybody loves pictures. Looking at them, taking them. They are everywhere now. You don´t need to buy a photo-book to enjoy the best photographs, all you need is an access to the internet. You also don´t need to invest a lot of money to take a sharp and clear image. Even mobile phones today are equipped with powerful cameras. When I bought my first DSLR (D3100) camera, I was not thinking about any of this. I thought that, just taking a picture with a ''big'' camera would make me a photographer. Boy, was I wrong. 

     The first day I bought my camera, I went out to shoot pictures. I had zero knowledge of any technical functions of my DSLR, so I just cranked my switch on auto and fired away. I was taking pictures of everything. A tree in a shadow, a cat running by, side of a house, clouds. I was taking pictures of everything that looked picturesque to me. When I got home and loaded pictures on my computer, I was disappointed. Some pictures seemed too bright, some too dark. Things were out of focus, blurred out or extremely noisy. My first lesson. I realized that it will be harder than I thought.

     I promised myself, that next time I will go out to take pictures, I will have at least basic knowledge about photography. So during the next week, I read as much as I could about my camera, it´s functions and options. I tried to learn more about aperture, shutter speeds, focal length, depth of field, ISO, etc. It was time to step outside the second time. This time I tried to do everything manually. I was happy how things went and thought there was a progress. I came back, loaded pictures and... again, I was not happy. Pictures were exposed better, things seemed in focus, but all of them were flat. They all were boring, uninspiring. Even when object looked interesting to me, the whole picture was not channeling the emotions I wanted to capture. I received my second lesson.

      I came to understand that it´s not enough just to own a camera, to know what does aperture and DoF do. You need to approach your photography as an art, a painting if you will. Composition comes before everything. When you make music you choose a chord, when doing a painting you pick a color, but it is not enough. You need to compose. You need to find a way for your art to speak. To say something. Will it be heard, depends on many things, but if it´s quiet, flat and lifeless. It´s worthless.

   I´m still not sure, what qualifies anyone to become a photographer. However, I hope, I´m on my way.