Just Take the Photos Already | by Lisa R. Howeler

So many people want to be a photographer but are so stuck on the idea that the photo has to be technically perfect, they rarely actually just push the shutter already. They want their child to sit just right or the light to hit just so or the moment to be simply perfect and if that doesn't happen then forget it – the photo isn’t taken.


Maybe because I had to photograph more moments than poses when I worked as a reporter and photographer at various small-town newspapers, the lack of perfection in a photo bothers me less than it does some photographers. When I look back at my photos over the years I may mentally scold myself for a technical error, knowing my aperture was set wrong or my ISO could have been raised or lowered, but normally my attention is on the moment captured rather than the technical aspects.


I rarely look back at my memories from a special time in my life and pat myself on the back for nailing focus. I look back at those photos and remember how I felt, what was happening, who was there, and why I even took the photo in the first place. I look at photography in a similar way to art – it’s about how the art makes me feel not how it was made. A local art teacher recently shared a photo of a painting by a student of his on Facebook. The painting was of a woman singing and I actually scrolled past it but then flung the cursor back up to take a better look at it. Something about it had caught my attention and held it. As I stared at the painted I found it left me with a relaxed, easy going feeling, something I needed in the midst of a stressful week. I could hear the smooth jazz music and the velvet tones of the singer’s voice and imagined a cup of hot tea in front of me and my husband sitting next to me, enjoying the music with me.


Someone else might have looked at that same painting and said they saw technical errors (I doubt many would have) or that the singer wasn’t as “realistic looking” as some might think she should be, but none of that mattered to me. What was important to me was how the painting made me feel. What if that young painter had given up on her work because she decided, in her own mind, that her work wasn’t good enough? What if she had decided that because something didn’t look technically right, the painting could never touch anyone emotionally? If she hadn’t finished the painting she would have robbed me of the moments of respite I was given by looking at it. Because she picked up that paintbrush and painted what she felt, not only what she saw and knew, a soul, my soul was touched.


It can be the same with our cameras.

The other day my children and I were at a local park and I wanted to capture some of the few autumn colors we had this year (due to almost two months of rain that left the leaves moldy and dead before they could transform). I asked my son to hold a leaf in front of his one eye, based on photos I've seen before and liked. I was getting frustrated because I couldn't get his eye and the leaf sharp at the same time.


I knew I was forgetting important technical steps but I couldn't seem to draw from my years of learning the right combination to create the photo I wanted. I thought about giving up, but I knew that in the end, the technical perfection wasn't what mattered. What did matter was that I was trying to remember how time together in a unique way.

Yes, this whole letting go and just creating thing can be hard to do if you desire or need clients, but in the long run, it will line your soul with joy if not your pocket.


So pick up that camera.

Just take the photos already and create what you feel in your heart, not only what you know in your head.

Megan Boggs3 Comments