Photography = Vision not Gear

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: January 10, 2011

Category: Videos

There’s no question that with Scott Kelby introducing his Worldwide Photo Walk nearly 4 years ago, the whole concept of ‘street’ photography has been introduced into alot more photographers’ lives.

Just you and your camera walking at a leisurely pace and photographing the world as it goes by can be incredibly fulfilling but also as Photographer Scott Schuman shows in this short documentary, incredibly important to your craft.

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in wanting the latest piece of electronic wizardry but when all is said and done…that is all it is; it’s the photographer’s vision and creativity that are ultimately responsible for making a great photograph.

In 2011 one of my ‘New Year Resolutions’ is to make time to get out more with just my camera and one lens and just walk and really take time to see what’s around me. I did this a few times last year in places like Brighton and Bournemouth and I was overwhelmed at how much I learned from doing it.

So what do you think…Is this kind of stuff important? Do you already make the time to get out on Photo Walks of your own? Sure the thought approaching a total stranger and asking to take their photograph can be quite daunting if not scary for some but there are ways to go about it and undoubtedly a common sense approach does play a big part.

It’d be great to ‘hear’ any thoughts you  have on this subject and maybe even a few tips that you’ve picked up along the way for getting the most out of it, so please as always feel free to make use of the comments section below.

Incidentally, if you haven’t checked it out already I’d highly recommend that you head over to Scott Schuman’s Blog ‘The Sartorialist‘…Word of warning though…you may find you’re there for quite some time!

Enjoy 🙂

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23 Comments

  1. Neil Holmes

    Hi Glyn, good post, I think as a photographer you have to keep developing your art and one of the best ways to do this is get out with a camera on or two lenses (I like taking just the standard lens) and go for it. Its something I’ve done all my photographic career. Cheers Neil

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Neil…Couldn’t agree more mate; cheers

      Reply
  2. David Kelly

    Thoughtful post Glyn and good video by Scott – that Barber’s featured in the video could offer a plethora of photo opportunities IMHO.

    Like any a musician would put the hours in playing their instrument to keep at the top of their game, a photographer should do the same with their camera. Mind you it’s easier said than done though sometimes 😉 but I’m hoping to get more / make more time in 2011 for photography than I did in 2010.

    As for my tip re: photo walks / street photography I’d say it’s good to undertake such a task with another photographer for the following benefits:
    – having another set of eyes and the alternative perspective offered therein should help to see more possible photo opportunities
    – having another person to egg you on / encourage you into doing something you might not be confident enough to do on your own (such as engaging with strangers) and
    – having someone to talk to along the way & spend some time with helps to make a more enjoyable experience 😉

    Regards,

    David

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @David Kelly…Totally agree with you there mate. I always compare it to when I was Bodybuilding…if I wanted to compete and do well then I had to train every day; I couldn’t expect to improve and develop my physique if I just picked up some weights every now and again.

      Cheers for the tips too; spot on!

      Reply
  3. Dave Clayton

    I have to admit that although I’m learning more about the ‘technicalities’ of photography the one thing I do love is just grabbing my camera and going for a walk because that’s where the interesting things happen, the unscripted moments and images.
    My stuff is pretty amateurish, I’ve still yet to grasp f stops / iso’s and shutter speeds and there has been many a moment where the perfect photo was lost because I had the wrong setting (I try to avoid Auto and switch to Manual) and ended up with motion blur or poor exposure. But I love walking around looking for things that interest me, things I can sometimes add something to maybe but generally its finding those great little moments, something that may have a great story behind it that you’ll never know!

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Dave…Absolutely mate; totally agree with you.
      We’ll have to get together for a ‘photo walk’ one afternoon; but let’s try and make it atleast a couple of degrees above freezing huh 🙂

      Reply
  4. Barbara

    Please do not misunderstand what I am about to say. All the beauty we need is usually right in our own yards, so to speak. Being in a scenic and wonderful place is great but not every viewer can relate whereas everyone has a backyard. I believe, as photographers, it is our job to seek beauty right where we are and to show others the beauty we see.

    Reply
  5. Tim Skipper

    Actually I’m envious. I live in a very rural part of the US, people don’t walk here they drive. We don’t have stores and business close to each other. You have to drive to get from one to another. The closest thing we have to people walking from place to place is private property which gets sticky.

    Its sad really because we are so spread out people rarely interact with each other and never slow down enough to notice what’s around them.

    However last year I was on assignment in Tampa, FL and I had one day to walk the downtown area and take pictures, there wasn’t many people out that day since it was a weekend, but the experience was great.

    Reply
  6. Rick Wenner

    Great post here Glyn. After reading this, I was reminded of how I got started in photography almost 10 years ago. When I got my first dSLR, this is all I would do, just walk around and take pictures of anything that caught my eye. Mostly landscapes and abstract imagery. This past year I did not get out and walk around with my camera to “just shoot” (except for when I was in London) but I plan on taking your advice and getting out more this year. It’s great to have some time to yourself and just enjoy your photography.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Rick…Totally mate; having time ‘away’ from it all is real important if not just for the creativity but also the all important thinking time.

      Cheers, Glyn

      Reply
  7. Shivakumar

    Glyn,

    This is def one very inspirational post. I just totally agree every bit of whats being told in video and in your words. Its not just limited to gear but the love for the art.

    To give you a instance – i just went out for a first photowalk of this year last sunday and i just carried a film DSLR + 50F1.8 lens with me loaded with a B&W roll. My intention was to enjoy shooting and going out than just worry about technicalities and exposure etc when reviewing which i usually do when using digital 🙂

    Just loved this post.

    Good one mate. Shiv

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Shiv…Thanks for commenting mate. Great to hear you got out for a photo walk and with a film SLR too; I’d love to see some of the shots if you’re able at some point.

      Cheers, Glyn

      Reply
  8. neal

    Glyn, have to agree with you mate, vision and not gear. We had a blast in Brighton, Bournemouth was a bit of a learning curve as we found out! We did say that we would do a walkabout every month, but we both know that time, work and other stuff gets in the way. I think we should resurrect that thinking and try to fit a few in in the coming months! Great topic, gets the mind thinking a little 🙂

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Neal…Absolutely mate; time for another!

      Reply
  9. neal

    Very inspiring video as well, I just love the way he struts along the street with camera in hand 🙂

    Reply
  10. Dan Davies

    As a working pro, any time I can shoot without the pressure for perfection and with the ability to experiment has to be a good thing. I really should do more of it!

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Dan…You and me both mate 🙂

      Reply
  11. victor jason

    hi!
    i just found your work and blog through a friend of mine, he sent me your portfolio-review-video. i liked it a lot and it was very cool. i also like the way you put it together.

    as to the vision/gear-think you’re right. i am starting out as a vocational photographer and i’m constantly fighting the urge to get new gear that i “might” need to gain some sort of “credibility”. some upgrades are required for sure, but i am a firm believer in vision as a driving force. the gear is the means, but personally, most of my favorite work i’ve done with my 28-75 lens and a beat up 30D. i’m glad that this theme is popping up all over the place. the “gear is good, vision is better” by David DuChemin was a certain wake-up call for me. and your post is a definite affirmation, and i am grateful that i found this blog. 😀

    i think i will have to go out on a photowalk soon. the sartorial video was very inspirational and cool. 😀 i suppose it also helps having a NY Times accredited blog and being kinda famous. 😀 this is something i need to work on, along with my vision and craft.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Victor…Yeah it’s definitely a theme that is being spoken about quite alot lately and like you I’m glad of it. Sure there’s always the temptation to buy more kit but as Zack Arias always says..get to know the it you have inside and out; then and only then will you know why you need a new piece of kit.

      Cheers, Glyn

      Reply
  12. Sonia perdomo

    I try to take my camera even on afternoon walks with my son. I put it on the stroller and have it ready for shots. I have been able to take amazing pictures of nature (deer families) and the season going from fall to winter. I am new to digital photography, so I think that the more I explore and use my camera the more I will learn

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Sonia…I’m actually thinking of hiring a lens to go out for the day and photograph wildlife/nature as this is something I want to start doing more of during my ‘getting away from it all’ time.
      Getting out and about like this with just your camera and one lens is a really productive thing to do. I’ve learned so much about my lenses camera and so on by seeing what can and can’t be done with it; lots of fun too 🙂

      Reply
  13. DaveT

    Hi Glyn,

    Been away travelling for the last few weeks, and have just got back with a boat load of images to process.

    One of the tips I recommend is to try using different camera settings to those you normally use. This way it increases your knowledge and understanding of the main tool we use – the camera.

    A few years ago I found myself trying to capture images at a Buddhist festival where the dancers were moving around all over the place and I couldn’t predict where they were going to be next. I suddenly realised that nearly everything I had been shooting beforehand was static, and I nearly always used single focus point to focus with. I fumbled around trying to work out how to set tracking focus and multi point focusing instead of single point. I got away with it, but it was a reminder that it is all too easy to get into a comfort zone and stay there.

    Dave

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @DaveT…Couldn’t agree with you more mate. It’s great to get out and just ‘play’…trying out things you maybe never would normally and end up with results that really are quite something 🙂

      Reply

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