Like any other human activity, photography has to be learned. Apparently, it is easy to take a snap, especially with the digital cameras available today: it is enough to read the user manual in order to get the perfect shots. The same is encouraged by the camera manufacturers who claim that their products are “intelligent” and able to “capture the life your way”. And, at least in part, they are right: most of the images captured by modern cameras are technically perfect. What about artistically? Are your photos able to please? Are they communicating something? Do they induce a certain mood?
A better photographic representation of the world is more than a technically perfect image. This is the first truth we have to understand. Even taking the picture of the simplest object (e.g. a cube or a sphere) could raise a significant number of questions: what angle, from what distance, what kind of light, what background, etc. In the case of a more complex subject these questions will multiply and their answers require significantly more knowledge.
Photography has to be learned. There are many ways of learning. Some require enough time and patience that many of us are probably less capable to dedicate in the limited time we allow ourselves to play. Other ways rely on more experienced people to provide the “shortcuts” that could provide just “good enough” results. In any case, the photographer needs to accept that capturing images is another language and, like any other language, it requires exercise and opportunities to communicate. With this in mind, we should look at the technical achievements only as a necessary step towards establishing a human dialog between the images that we take and their recipients.
The following tutorials are no replacement for a photography school. They fall mostly in the “shortcut” category and are intended for regular people who want to capture good memories and impressions of life.
As a side note, I sincerely believe that learning art through “shortcuts” is a bad idea. It is like getting educated by reading the front page of a newspaper or from the home page of a web site. The real education is done in schools and through a lot of hard work. So, don’t expect to become a professional photographer and an artist by reading these tutorials – they just barely scratch this domain. Use them only as a collection of honest advices and as a possible introduction into an art that developed tremendously in the last century as a form of expression and dialog between people.