The bigger the WHY, the smaller the HOW. If you want to be a better photographer, build confidence at any level, and capture images of excellence, then take time to shoot the things you love and are passionate about. Shoot what excites you, and use that energy to break through your own limitations, reach new levels of creativity within, and ultimately electrify your images. This secret ingredient, the intent or reason for shooting coupled with your own emotion towards the subject are often overlooked amiss all of the technical considerations. Those technical aspects can always be learned but creation flows from within. What drives your image?
Photographing a sport at the peak of the moment can be exhilarating, especially when you nail it, that’s just one of the many reasons its one of my favourite subjects to shoot. After shooting professional sports for many years I eventually realized that I could up my own photography game and get better images simply by changing my mindset. When I was shooting an event like World Cup Skiing or even the Winter Olympics I noticed that I would get better shots when shooting a Canadian versus an athlete from any other country every time. My technical ability was the same, but the only thing different was that it was more important to me to capture the Canadians. This importance or reason was my WHY. I have since been able to apply this knowledge as wisdom to allow more meaning in every shoot I do.
I find that most photographers also love to travel. When we are travelling, our senses are heightened because everything we experience is new and exciting. This is a great time to practice our skills, learn our camera and lenses inside-out and expand our toolbox by trying settings and photographic techniques we might not usually try. I love shooting faces and portraits of people I meet in different countries. Its amazing the bridges we can build and captivating images we can achieve just by asking a stranger if they would mind being photographed.
Shooting landscapes are also one of my passions. I love being in nature, slowing down life and taking the time to appreciate the beauty around us while from the perspective of my Nikon D800E (favourite landscape camera) and lens. If you have a macro lens, put it on next time your are in nature and see how your world changes instantly. Adjust your picture control settings and increase your in-camera saturation and sharpness to enhance the richness of your environment and adjust your white balance to add warmth or cool down your masterpiece.
Architecture or exquisite objects like high-end homes, sports cars or jets are also one of my favourite things to shoot. They are made with excellence and deserve to be captured in kind. I find that these subjects can be some of the most technical to shoot, but that also can make it the most fun. Challenging situations always push us outside of our comfort zone and succeed or not you will always expand and learn more tools in the process which will always make you a better photographer. I am constantly pushing my Nikon gear and new ideas to the limit and try to never shoot the subject the same way twice. Try experimenting with in-camera HDR, flash, different light shapers, painting with light with Speedlights or even flashlights, high ISO, multiple exposures, long exposures or whatever technique your imagination can dream.
Shooting a portrait can be a transformative experience, both for the photographer and subject. As a photographer we see the subject through our own perspective and filters, and then often create a story in our mind about it. Then we choose an appropriate lens, exposure, etc., and shape light to the subject to best tell that story we hold in our mind. Sometimes we even capture the essence of someone or freeze a moment of them being in such a beautiful way that when we reflect that image back to the subject we give them the gift of reminding them how amazing they are. Photographing someone is a wonderful gift and just having the positive intent that you want to make them feel beautiful can give your images huge meaning and make the HOW seem like a walk in the park.
Find your passion. Capture it with excellence and let that energy flow into all areas of your photography and to every subject you shoot. Make every shot count, with intention and purpose and your images will inspire!
By Kristian Bogner - Nikon Ambassador for Canada