03 June 2012

Professional vs. Amateur Photographers?

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The Olympics are coming and there have been already many controversial discussions on how the photography rights will be handled during the games. There were rumors that it will not be allowed to share images on social networks in the stadiums and photographers were prohibited to photograph the Olympic locations during construction. Well, this week came the news that only small cameras will be allowed in the stadiums and any camera or lens bigger than the allowed size will be confiscated, but there are no lockers to keep them, so they most likely will be gone when you come out. As a response a discussion spun off from both sides, professional and amateur photographers. The amateur photographers were upset that they cannot take their great equipment with them and the professional photographers were cynical, stating that with the allowed camera and lens size one still can take great images. What is this about?
The professional photographers who are the official photographers of an event make their living from photography, invest constantly in their business and often have to pay to be allowed photographing an event. For a big event as the Olympics photo and press agencies pay for the right to take photographs. They need to earn that money back by selling the images to the media and online platforms. That becomes very difficult when everybody in the stadium with a big zoom lens gets in the position to photograph the event as well. At such an event it’s not that much about the quality of the images, it’s more about catching a moment and being the first to have it on the Internet. It’s a race.
That race can be real fun for amateur photographers, but is very annoying for professional photographers. The professional is working there and does not have the time and energy to play a game with thousands of amateurs challenging him or her. It’s completely understandable that everybody wants to photograph the Olympics when being one of the lucky ones having a ticket. But just do it for your own and your friend’s fun and leave the professionals doing their job. All photographers share the passion for photography. Respect each other’s role in the photography world and learn from each other.
Imagine being an electrician, called in to repair a power failure and the head of the household is telling you how to do it, because he built his electrical miniature train system himself. He can be of big help by telling the electrician when the failure occurred, which machines were running at that moment and probably other relevant information, but the actual work needs to be done by the called in professional.
If the amateur feels the desire to become a professional, do it! Follow you heart and make your passion your profession and respect those who did that already.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

Yin & Yang in Photography

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Yin yang are not opposing forces (dualities), but complementary opposites, unseen (hidden, feminine) and seen (manifest, masculine), that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. (via Wikipedia)

Photography has pretty much been a domain of men, although there have been great and famous female photographers, yet its mostly men who wield a camera. At least they were. One reason might have been society in the beginning years of photography that wouldn’t see technology, as something a woman should be doing. And within this reasoning is already a deeper answer. Technology is the masculine that, one can see. The masculine side, the yang, manifests itself in machines, therefore in cameras. The Greek philosopher Apollinaire called machines the “motherless daughters of men”. That implicates that there is no female side involved in the machines, which is of course impossible. In order to invent machines including cameras one needs intuition as well as technical knowledge and skills. Intuition is the female side, the yin, the unseen. It is common knowledge that we all have both in us, the yin, the female side, and the yang, the male side and so does photography.
The definition of yin and yang says, that they are part of a dynamic system, which means that there is a constant dynamic between the two sides on who is stronger and dominant. I think we can state that the male side with the technology succeeded for a long time in being the dominant side, leading to big business in camera equipment and accessories. Women had the impression that the technical side of photography was something they wouldn’t be able to understand and that kept many of them away from doing photography. If someone would have explained the technical side of photography in intuitional language this wouldn’t have happened, but of course the technical language was a masculine language. But digital photography changed all that.
Everybody can press a shutter. The technical knowledge wouldn’t have such a big influence anymore on the result as it had until then. The eye, wielded by the intuition would make the difference and this is the yin part. Photography seems to get a huge boost from the technology freed intuition. It opened new creative spaces and the technical side of photography with the recent camera innovations and photo apps stimulates and supports this trend. That doesn’t mean photography will now be only something for females, males have just as much yin as females have yang. They are only rearranged in the dynamic system and move towards balance in both, in women and men. The women get more comfortable with technology and the men more comfortable with their intuition.
The dynamic of yin and yang shows itself also within the technical side of photography. Take for example Canon and Nikon cameras and watch who is using them. The men who are using Canon equipment are very different from men who are using Nikon. One could think that comes from test results and test reports, yet eventually one chooses the camera that feels right. Canon is the more masculine product, grey lenses on black bodies, and Nikon is the more intuitional oriented product. Interesting enough Canon has started offering the choice between grey and black lenses. I don’t know if they are conscious about the reason, but they would reach by doing that also the more intuitional oriented male customers, who do not find masculine dominance important and the number of intuition conscious men seems to grow.
Is photography the visualized dynamic of yin and yang? Maybe it is.

Ute Sonnenberg,

Sharing Best Practice

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In the times without social networks and blogs, one had knowledge about something, another one was looking for that knowledge, but the two couldn’t find each other. Since the rise of the social media the world has become a world of sharing. We are not only sharing our holiday photos and thoughts, we are also sharing knowledge. The Internet and the social media provide free access (at least in most of the countries) to knowledge, facts, information and feedback on subjects one is interested in. We are connecting with people around the world to exchange knowledge and while doing that we inspire and help people in work and education.
Here some shares.

Find out which of your eyes is dominant:
One tip that instructors often pass onto the beginning photographers is to use their dominant eye (i.e. the eye they prefer seeing with) to look through the viewfinder. If you want to find out which of your eyes is the dominant one, here’s a quick test you can do: extend your arms straight out and form a small triangle with your hands. Looking through the triangle with both eyes open, frame something nearby (e.g. a doorknob) and place it in the center of the triangle. Then close your eyes one at a time without moving the triangle — your dominant eye is the one that placed the object in the center. (via reddit and petapixel)

A safe place to show and sell your images:
All of us who do photography want to show our images and hope that we can sell them to a magazine or as an art print. But how do we do that without the risk of the digital full size image being taken without payment? There is a place called www.photoshleter.com that gives professional photographers the opportunity to show and sell their images in a safe way. Another interesting place is www.artflakes.com that gives photographers the opportunity to sell their images as high quality ready to hang art prints, posters and postcards. Check it out. It might be something for you.

How do you choose your object?
When you think back how you composed images and how you choose the object you might come to the conclusion that you were looking for the light to be right on the bride or the sun setting behind a tree or light and shade playing with the color of a flower. It’s always an object with the right light we are looking for. So relax and just follow the light. It will point out the object for you.

How to train the eye?
There are lots of books and instructions about the right composition and the rule of thirds. They give a mind-dominated approach to something that needs an intuitional approach. Our inner eye that sees for us the composition is intuition driven. So train it intuitionally by looking at paintings from old masters. They are called old master, because they were masters in working with light and composition. By looking at their work we are training our eye in a way that we start seeing paintings everywhere and no thought about a rule is needed anymore. Our inner eye is strong and well trained.

Sharing makes us all richer in our artwork and no worry, that doesn’t mean that all the photos will be the same. We will develop even a stronger individual signature in photography what distinguishes our work from the work of others.
Happy sharing!

Ute Sonnenberg. www.rohoyachui.com

Visual EdVenture Retreats

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There is a new word in the travel industry, edventure, meaning an educational adventure during your holiday or even an edventure retreat with yoga classes and other courses during a stay at a beautiful beach resort. It’s a smart synergy of words that explains very well the content of such a holiday. Education can be an adventure and going to an exotic place is an adventure too. Both together create an intense experience of growth during a relaxed and inspiring vacation.
We should have these experiences not only during our long waited for holiday once a year. These moments of retreat, education and growth are craved for everyday, especially after a hard day at the office or a never-ending rainy day or just as a moment to rest and relax whenever we need it. But of course we are not able yet to beam us to the Masai Mara at the end of the day to sit and photograph the lions and beam back when going to bed. It might be possible one day, but until then we got a great alternative: Photographs!
We can retreat in a visual edventure at any given moment with our own photographs on our computer, phone or tablet, images from the Internet or photo books. Every image teaches us something and takes us to a place where we are not at the moment we are looking at it. Give it a try. Open your photo library or go to the Internet and look at photos. There will be at least one photo you get drawn to and keep looking at. The image takes you to the place and moment where it was taken. You get “beamed” from the place where you are right now to the Masai Mara through the visual channel of the image and you can see, feel and smell the Great Plains. For a moment you retreated to the African bush to learn about its colors, animals and smells, yes even that is in the image. Feel it.
Fortunately we keep calling our photos just photos and not that mouth full “visual edventure retreast”, although that’s what they are.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com

How The Internet changed Photography Courses

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The digital developments have not only changed photography from analog to digital or a library into a search engine; it also has changed the way we learn things and crafts.
The era of analog photography was the time with no Internet. One signed up for a photography course and learned probably for 90 % of the course about the technical features of photography in general and specifically about the specs of cameras and lenses. This was necessary, because that was the way to get access to the information, except somebody wanted to sign up at a library and read by himself through all the books. Also the analog way of photography demanded a higher knowledge of the technical side of photography in order to get the desired result.
Nowadays the cameras take care of a great deal of the technical side of photography for somebody to make the first step in this great hobby or profession. Often somebody gets started with a point and shoot entry-level camera and then wants to know more, wants to learn what is behind all of that and how to improve the results and to conquer more photographic challenges.
In order to learn more about the technical side of photography including cameras and lenses one doesn’t need to go to a photography course anymore. The Internet provides all information one might want to gather. The photography teacher nowadays has a different task. He/she guides the student in seeing the bigger technical picture, explains how everything works together and uses most of the time to teach the creative side of photography. This makes the process of learning more efficient and individual. Everybody learns at his/her own pace and the subject one wants to learn about. This way of teaching is not only more efficient and more individual, it is also more exciting by providing more time and space for the creative part of photography. And except you are completely fascinated by technique, the creative and artistic part of photography is the most exciting part. That means nowadays photography teachers need to focus on the creative and artistic side of photography to guide their students to the level in photography they want to achieve. The Internet cannot provide that. It can show inspiring images and one does learn from them, but the Internet cannot teach how to capture the feeling in the image and how to see. That’s where the photography course has its purpose with lots of time and space for creativity. Besides that, the desired results are achieved in a much shorter period of time as in the past.
Learning has become more individual, faster and exciting through the available technical media. And its biggest advantage is the space and time it creates to focus on creativity.
Be inspired. Join the experience.

Ute Sonnenberg, www.rohoyachui.com