Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography

Finding Your Photography Vision: Four Lessons on Getting a Fresh Perspective

  • Print
  • + Share This
Roberto Valenzuela offers four lessons to help you improve your photography craft.
Like this article? We recommend

While on the phone with a friend, he was sharing with me a story about his four-year-old child. My friend had taken his kid out for a quick walk around his neighborhood, and the kid just couldn’t stop laughing. Roy (the father) couldn’t figure out the culprit for his son’s unstoppable and addictive laughing streak. Nothing was out of the ordinary, there was nobody around, and it was just another day in the same neighborhood they had lived for years. As it turns out, the kid was laughing hysterically at the tree branches swaying in the wind. That’s it, tree branches!

The moral of the story is that to a kid, everything is new. Something as ordinary as swaying tree branches was the coolest thing that kid has ever seen. It made me wonder: how would our perspective and our photographic vision change if we could see our surroundings through the fresh eyes of a child? In this article, I offer some lessons I’ve learned for how to recapture that fresh perspective and see the world through new eyes.

According to the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Research Essentials, the average person living in America is exposed to nearly 1500 ads every single day. But how many can we really remember and describe to someone? We are so used to our surroundings that our senses are dulled from visual stimulus.

The same concept applies to the photographer: we feel that in order to have a good photo shoot, we must take our clients to a far away exotic location. Of course “exotic” is subjective, right? If you live in Arizona, you think the Hawaii landscape is the greatest gift nature has given us, but if you live in Hawaii, you couldn’t care less. The ironic thing about all of this is that creativity is a byproduct of scarcity. In other words, people’s creativity grows when forced to come up with solutions in the face of very limited resources. Equipped with this knowledge, we should all try to put ourselves into difficult photographic situations and force ourselves to come up with solutions.

At the beginning of my photography career, I only owned a plastic 50mm lens. I remember having to photograph a senior portrait session with only this lens. However, because I couldn’t afford to buy another lens, I didn’t know what I was missing. To me, having an SLR with a 50mm f/1.4 lens was the greatest! My excitement was so high that I walked around like I owned the town. Finally the day came where I had to photograph an entire wedding. I wasn’t concerned about my lack of equipment because I didn’t know better; I was nervous about my skill level. Everything from the bride getting ready to the couple’s portraits, family photos and reception was taken with the same 50mm plastic lens. I got to know that focal length like I knew how to spell my own name. That year alone I went on to photograph almost 20 weddings with that trusty 50mm f/1.4 lens purchased for less than $400. An additional complication was that most of those weddings were photographed in the same venue. Naturally, I had to figure out how to make the same venue look different at every wedding. Brides want to have their weddings customized for them, not feel like part of a cookie cutter assembly line.

Based on these and other early experiences, I came up with some lessons to help me improve my craft.

Lesson 1: Limit your equipment at a shoot.

Both my lack of equipment and shooting in the same venue are by far the best things that could have happened to me. I learned to master what I had to work with, instead of messing around with ten different lenses and not learning any of them well. Knowing a lens’s focal length and maximum aperture is like only knowing someone’s first and last name. Yes, that’s a start, but knowing someone means you can anticipate how that person behaves under different scenarios, his/her temper, attitude, weaknesses, strengths, hobbies, favorite food, etc. Now, imagine how much you know about a true long-time friend. We should strive to achieve this level of knowledge about every lens, camera and flash we own. I suggest getting to know your equipment by choosing one lens to carry around with you for a whole week. Take photos of everything and anything that strikes your fancy with that one lens. The following week try another lens, and so on. Limit yourself with your equipment to get to know it more intimately.

Lesson 2: Put a dollar value on every photo you take.

Last year I was invited to speak at the Photo Plus convention in NYC. One of my favorite events was the Canon party celebrating the launch of their new flagship camera, the Canon 1DX. This puppy has a full frame 35mm sensor and can shoot a burst of 14 frames per second! Although it’s a treat to hear the mirror flip up and down 14 times in one second, it also guides the photographer to rely on sheer numbers to get a good shot. In my opinion, a talented professional photographer has a higher yield of great photographs in a single roll or memory card. But to increase your yield, you must change the way you think before you push that shutter button. Put a monetary value on every photo you take, and you will immediately slow way down and think good and hard about the composition and quality of light of each photo you take. I personally like to think each push of the shutter costs me $5. At this rate, if I don’t choose my photos carefully, I soon will be waiting at the community soup line at the Mission in downtown LA.

Lesson 3: Photography requires you to be a builder.

A photograph should evoke emotion at first glance. This is the mystique of photography vs. video. There are many elements that must come together to build a moment in time. Yes, I said, “build”, not “take”. Before you go out on a shoot, think of photography as something you must build. Your tools are light, shadows, environment, subject matter, story, and composition. Now combine these building blocks while shooting with only one lens as described above, and you will have just taken your first steps towards seeing the environment with the same enthusiasm as a child, and performing like a master photographer. The number one rule every photographer should keep in mind is, that beauty in terms of photography is realized mainly with QUALITY OF LIGHT. Beauty in a landscape can be determined by mountans or lakes, beauty in a person can be determined by the symmetry and bone structure, but in photography, beauty is all about great light.

Lesson 4: Training, practicing, and learning from mistakes is all part of the game.

It has been said for decades that photography comes from the heart. Although I couldn’t agree more, there are some basic flaws with this sentiment. Let’s compare this to another famous quote about marriage; “Love is not enough.” Love in a marriage paramount, but love alone will not keep a couple together for the rest of their lives. In photography, loving the art form is also not enough. One most work at it and train to be a visual storyteller. It requires a different mindset to tell a story using only photographs. Photographers may love photography, but in order to make our cameras an extension of our vision, we must be technically proficient using our tools. Being a quick draw is of utmost importance in order to capture key moments. Learn the character, weaknesses and strengths of every lens you own as if it was true friend, so you know which tool is the absolute best for the job. Last but definitely not least, find a way to allow the natural beauty of our average everyday environments to reveal itself to us, so we can see our surroundings like a child and be able to again see what we no longer can.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020