Tag Archives: Photography Tips

Thoughts On Becoming an Artist

I want to share some thoughts that have been going through my mind lately. Partly just to get them out of my head, but it’s about my journey to become an artist. A path I’m still on and I’ll probably be on for quite some time. You see I never believed I had what it takes to be an artist. That was someone else. Someone that had talent. Not me. I’ve spent most of my life feeling that way. I’ve always had to have a “real job” to support my family. Everyone knows that you can’t make a living as an artist. Right? And if we don’t know it, friends and family are more than happy to inform us that you can’t. Plus a lot more reasons why I couldn’t, shouldn’t even consider being an artist. I know they mean well, but damn, let me find out for myself. I believe we all have an artist inside us. Buried so deep in some of us that we couldn’t see it with a microscope. But the artist is there. If you’re lucky, like I was, someone comes into your life that believes in your ability or they just encourage you to open yourself to the possibilities. That’s what happened to me. She encouraged me, she nagged me, (in a nice way), but she helped me to believe that maybe I could be an artist. I’m starting to take pride in what I produce, but it’s been a slow process. You just have to keep at it. Work at it. It doesn’t come easily or naturally. Doubt sits on my shoulder almost every day. Some days it yells in my ear, others it’s just a whisper, but it’s always there. I’m trying to learn to tune it out. Not easy. Not easy at all. I feel a strong need to slow down, to quiet my thoughts. Only then can I be the artist that I want to be. To create the art I feel trapped inside beneath the layers of busyness and the outside world’s intrusion. The artist that is inside is trapped by the worlds expectations and judgement’s handed down by people that we think are smarter or more talented than us. Art doesn’t have to meet anybody’s expectations. It only has to make me happy. No one else. If it does, great! If not, to hell with them. I don’t care. Somewhere in the mix, happiness has to play a part. Otherwise why am I here?

In My Own Backyard

Three Buds              

After watching Bill Fortney’s instructional video on photographing the beautiful Olympic National Park at Scott Kelby’s website www.Kelbyone.com, I just had to go out and try some of the techniques that Bill shared and share them with you.

 I live in Port Angeles, Washington, the gateway for the Olympic National Park where Bill established his base of operations for this shoot.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Olympic Peninsula yet you really need to put it on your list of must see places. The scenery here is incredible and the people are great. I love living in an area that has been so blessed with such incredible beauty all packed into one place.

Bill shares some very simple tips and techniques that have helped me shorten my learning curve considerably. Bill, thank you for your easy style of instruction. I feel like I’m sitting down with an old friend every time I watch one of your videos. There is so much to learn from his videos and I will be viewing this one repeatedly to try and learn all I can from him. One technique I picked up from his video was such a simple idea that I almost smacked my head against the wall that I hadn’t thought of it myself. Bill carries a spray bottle of water with him for misting plants to help create water drops on the leaves and give them some sheen when doing macro shots. Of course when you’re shooting in a rain forest it isn’t needed very often, but I went out in my backyard the next morning to try out what I learned about macro and misting. It made a huge difference in my images. In my humble opinion this one tip alone was worth my monthly subscription to Scott Kelby’s educational website.

Another tip from Bill Fortney came from a visit he made to Ruby Beach on the Washington coast in the Olympic Park. The weather had not cooperated for the planned shoot to get some images of the setting sun and the beach, so Bill went on to plan B. He had found some rocks on the beach that had interesting textures, but because they were dry, lacked a real photo opportunity. Bill solved the problem by just splashing some water on the rocks he was interested in. Completely changed the image by darkening the rocks and bringing out the colors and textures for the camera to capture. Simple. Easy. I never thought of it.

I know for many of you these tips may seem pretty simplistic and old hat, but for me they provided an ah-ha moment. I’ve been shooting for a while but it’s only been in the last year that I’ve actually started investing in educating myself through online courses in addition to books and magazines. I’m coming to the realization that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Somebody smarter and more creative than me has already done it and shared their knowledge in print or video. All I have to do is find it and not be so prideful or stubborn to think that I have to figure it out for myself.  I just have to learn it and use it until I learn how to put my own spin on it.

The other thing I’ve been finding is that sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference in my images. Better equipment is always nice and will always help, but I feel that I’m getting a far bigger bang for my buck by learning and focusing on the basics and the details that make the foundation for my shots. As many have stated before me, the best equipment in the world won’t make you a good photographer. Knowing the basics and how to use the equipment you have will give you the best chance to move to the next level.

Lesson learned this week; focus on the basics. Master the little things and the big picture will take care of itself.

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”   By Jim Rohn

 I’d love it if you took a moment to check out some of my other images at my website. It’s at www.jkfrancisphotography.com