In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin has a relatively small but memorable role. If you have not seen the movie, it is an examination of the people who work in a real estate office. It may not seem like a great premise but in the hands of writer, David Mamet (who won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony for the original play) and a handful of great actors, including Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Ed Harris, this is one great movie. Baldwin plays a top salesmen sent out by the owners to "motivate" this sales force and his motivational technique makes for a great viewing experience, with many great lines in a 7 minute performance, one of which is "ABC: A-Always, B-BE, C- Closing. Always be closing, always be closing". If you have not seen the movie I highly recommend that you do.
So by now your asking yourself has this blog started reviewing movies, decade old movies? Well no, but this movie and Baldwin's line came to me the other day. I was asked by a relative how did we (Phyllis and I ) become so good at our photography. Of course, my A.D.D mind ruminated on this for a long time before this line popped into it, well, a variation on it: "A.B.S. A-Always, B-Be, S-Shooting always be shooting, always be shooting.
If you ask me how do I get better at photography, I would tell you to actually take pictures. Take your camera and use it. It seems everybody has some type of camera, from the high end DSLR to point and shoots and the telephones all of us carry. If your camera is in your closet all the time, the chances of you getting even a good shot decreases dramatically. It is the old use it or loose it mantra. Photography is part art and part science and if you are not practicing these skills, you will not get better. Do I mean you will never take a great image? Nope, you might! Hell, with the new cameras a monkey could take a great picture if given enough time. BUT could he reproduce the same results again and again? I am willing to bet that he or anyone else could not. You might grab a really great image of a mountain range or your kids but if you do not practice, you will miss many more shots then you'll get.
With the advent of digital photography, many people can take decent images. Just set your camera to auto and shoot away. You have a good chance of getting a pretty decent image. But if you're looking for better then just a good chance at a decent image, then you need to actually practice. If you have a DSLR and you do not practice, then why have it? Stick with the point and shoots or your phone. I think some people have one hanging around their necks for the same reasons some people buy expensive jewelry: as a sign telling the world, " See, I'm cool". I take my camera with me almost everywhere I go: a trip to the store, a restaurant, or a simple walk around my neighborhood. You will usually find my camera with me. Do I get great images every time? Of course not, but I try. It reminds me of the old joke: Two men meet on the streets of New York one asks the other, "Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall?" The other answers, " Practice, Practice, Practice!!!" If you want to get to a high level of proficiency with your camera, I say ALWAYS BE SHOOTING!!
These images were all found shots. I was either just taking a walk or a drive and saw the image. It was not a planned location or image I had in my mind beforehand: just having my camera with me.
These birds are Wood Storks and are seen around where I live almost everyday.
The view from the top of a parking garage. My point is that by " always be shooting" you will learn what all those buttons are on your camera for and that's a good thing. Reading the book that came with it helps, also.
I took my camera to a restaurant and saw this image on our way back to where we were staying.
Alaska 11:00 PM. One of my favorite travel images.
A person without a camera might not even see this image on their walk on the beach. With a camera, a person hopefully sees the lines, light and simplicity of this image. Almost more importantly, it can also help you 'see' and by 'see' I mean as a photographer: to see compositions that you might not have seen before. To 'see' the light, I mean really see the light and recognize the difference of light during different parts of the day. It will allow you to get inspiration from what is out there everyday and night
What about during a wedding day, don't you ever just rest for a moment. Well, maybe, depending on the day but not very often or for very long. If I do I still am always looking always watching for an image I could make.
At this wedding we had a long wait between the prep. time, some of the formals and the ceremony. We were all waiting in the hotel lobby when I saw this image. This was not a setup shot, they did not know I took it until they received their images. I love this image always reminds me of something you might see in a magazine .
This image was made by Phyllis, the bride was waiting for the ceremony and just looked out the window to see if she could see the groom. A great image that would not have been made if Phyllis was not A.B.S
As they say, look to the heavens for inspiration!!! I say it's as simple as A B S!! ALWAYS BE