Photographic Philosophy

The photographic philosophy that each of us brings to our work is a cornerstone that anchors all that we do, and serves as a guiding principle. I suppose there could be an infinite number of philosophies that each of us could pursue when it comes to our photography. For me, it has always come down to a binary choice between “the best possible photograph” and “the best photograph possible”.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 115 mm, efov 230 mm, f/2.8, 1 second handheld, ISO-200

On the surface these two philosophies may appear identical, but they are very different indeed. It is good to remind ourselves that one approach isn’t better than another… just different.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5, 1/320, ISO-3200, subject distance 245 mm, handheld focus stacking used, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

Those of us who have a photographic philosophy of creating “the best possible photograph” will carefully plan our images. We may research a range of locations. We’ll choose the optimal time of day. We’ll wait for ideal weather conditions.  We’ll use the best possible equipment… perhaps a larger format camera to help maximize dynamic range and colour depth. And minimize image noise.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 50 mm, efov 135 mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-400

We’ll wait for ideal weather conditions, and have the patience to wait for multiple days if necessary. And, we’ll do our utmost to eliminate anything that could detract from creating image perfection as we define it.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-160

We may photograph subject matter that is best captured in a studio. This gives us optimal control of the environment. It can lead us to become expert in lighting techniques, and understanding the nuances of shooting angles.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1000

Many professionals follow this photographic philosophy and they create images that are spectacular. Their livelihood depends on their ability to continually produce work that inspires. That captures meaning and emotions. As photographers they are technically brilliant and have the facility to combine that knowledge with an intuitive appreciation of their subjects.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/16, 1/2, ISO-160

Whether we are professional photographers who are paid for our work or not… we can still pursue “the best photograph possible” philosophy with our images.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-400

Other folks have a photographic philosophy of creating “the best photograph possible”. These photographers accept that the environment in which they will be creating their images most likely will be far from perfect. They appreciate that their time to create a photograph is often severely limited.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 non-PD, @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO-3200

Environmental conditions can change rapidly, so they learn to adapt instantly to the kaleidoscope of new realities they face. They constantly assess the photographic constraints that they are facing and adjust their shooting parameters so they can deliver “the best photograph possible” given the constraints they face.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 216mm, efov 583mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-800

Their photographic philosophy is well suited to fast changing subject matter and conditions. Their approach is evident in their choice of camera equipment. Flexibility and adaptability are highly valued. Folks pursuing “the best photograph possible” are also technically skilled, and are adept at using their equipment in a myriad of ways.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-400

They also have an intuitive understanding of their subject matter, which helps allow them to anticipate moments in real time.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-360

People who pursue a photographic philosophy of creating “the best photograph possible” can also produce spectacular work. It can connect emotionally, and be inspiring to others.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 100 mm, efov 270 mm, f/5.6, 1/15, ISO-1600

Each of us creates photographs that capture a precise moment in time… that being when we fully depress our shutter release. Some of us plan for those precise moments, and have the patience to wait for those moments to appear. Others of us react to the moments that unfold around us in unscripted ways.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 20 mm, efov 54 mm, f/8, 1/25, ISO-400

Understanding our photographic philosophy is key for us to grow and mature in our craft.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld with the camera equipment  noted in the EXIF data. Images were created from RAW files or out-of-camera jpegs using my standard process in post. This is the 1,391 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-200, subject distance 765 mm

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Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 170 mm, efov 340 mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-1000, subject distance 1.3 metres

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