Photography, as with life, is all about finding balance. This lesson was a debate for me whether I want to put it in “philosophy” or “basics”, but it’s a short one, and may just help get the basics right.
In a previous lesson, we’ve learned about double and half. We will establish HOW to get the balance right in the next few lessons, but for now—know that every photograph you take is essentially a pay-off. There is nothing for nothing in life, and the same applies here: in photography, you never get something for nothing. What one gains on one end, one has to sacrifice on the other. One needs to balance your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to find this balance. I explain all that in lesson 111—“The Holy Trinity”—but for now, I need you to be comfortable with the concept that to get the perfect picture, you need to strike the perfect balance.
Get the balance wrong, and you will end up with either a picture that’s too dark, too bright, too grainy, too blurry, or not showing enough motion. You need to know what you want ahead of time, and plan for it, shoot for it. You need to learn about getting the balance right.
Where that balance lies, is half the fun of photography. Some of it is science, and anyone can learn that. Some of it is art, and that only comes with experience and some very lucky people who were just born creative! Where the balance between science and art lies, is part of finding the balance.
I have two friends, let’s call them Steve and John, who are both professionals in the photographic industry. Steve is a pure artist. This man has concept and vision, and his artistic work makes my jaw drop—but he is not a technical man. He doesn’t know what half of the things on his camera means. John, however, refers to himself as a “technical photographer”. John knows everything there is to know; he is a font of information on the minutiae of the photographic industry. But he cannot really conceptualise or use a camera creatively. Both these mates of mine are professionals in the photographic industry, and they both make their money out of the clicking of a shutter. But they embody the different aspects of the balance of photography.
The point is—there is no wrong and there is no right on the subject of “balance”. Each person needs to find their own balance between art and science, and each person needs to find their own balance in a photo. Each person needs to find their own point at which things “make sense”. No one can ever call another “wrong” in how they approach photography. The only person who can call you “wrong” is yourself, and if you strive to better yourself, you cannot be wrong, only “improving”.