Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything – Aaron Siskind
In marking the world photography day, which was marked a few days ago, I decided not only to write about photography one of my passions, gift and field of study, but to use the opportunity to vent…
With the advancement of camera /camera phones in this 21st century technology everybody is now a photographer. So, it’s no longer news that with Nokia phones having sold more cameras than Nikon ever sold, and the era of selfies having created millions of photographers, it’s a profession not necessarily under threat but often abused, misused and derided.
Still and motion photography over the years has evolved from the camera obscura and pin hole camera to today’s Red Dragon, 7D, Arri and Ds’ yet to be discovered.
The professional photographer looks beyond social photography like weddings and birthdays because in this art there is room for editing, which is another form of correction.
A lot of photo studio owners are referred to as professional photographer and over the years they have gathered experience in social documentation of events most times not for publication but for remembrance and sometimes notification and entertainment.
Over the years some of these photos are published in a magazine format mainly for entertainment and for the “female” targets (sometime with women and photos, another discussion for another day). These set of photographers are indeed expert in events and have no form of romance with lights or shots.
In sports photography, especially football and athletics, that require professional lighting to eliminate shadow to the barest minimum, a social photographer will find it difficult to fit into this field because a speed camera is needed and it works on a different frame per second. Don’t mind my technical jargon, but really that is it…
Imagine the effort in just one football match with over 25 cameras and lenses included.
The debate then arises, is hard light needed in football or soft light? Do we need to diffuse light for transmission or not…again keeping one of filming rules, all light must be diffused. And in film you must know the rules and break them if you wish.
Sports photographers are rare in Nigeria because we do not have that department in our TV stations and speed cameras are a challenge. So a media house for example simply has a photographer whose job is to capture the pictures, with smart phones, every reporter is even a photographer therefore.
Furthermore another aspect of photography that we do not look at is wildlife photography. Here not just the camera is involved, but time, light and venue. There are animals best filmed at night but the same light that is friendly in the studio and on the football pitch becomes an enemy of filming birds. Birds sometimes need light that is as friendly as nature or a reflector depending on the species you are filming.
Filming birds at night, a social and sports photographer works under intense light, but when filming birds at night they become an amateur in the same profession they profess. Light plays a major role in photography and you cannot capture without light. Even silhouette shots need certain amount of light.
Underwater photography is yet to be really explored in Africa nay Nigeria. None of the above mentioned photographers can serve in this capacity. You must be trained as an expert diver and a photographer before you embark on this aspect of photography. Landscape photography will capture from above using the appropriate lens with or without light depending on the image to be captured.
Dental photography is slightly different from all these forms of photography. The dental equipment is used to achieve desired photographs.
Filming a movie, in Nollywood, the videographer is referred to as Director of Photography, but in actual fact the DOP directs pictorially because the ‘cine’ camera captures pictures alone and is handled by a cinematographer; this is against what we do in Nigeria which is video. Our DOPs most of the time do not even have a storyboard so why refer to it as ‘director’ when your job is to capture the image, not to direct it?
Photography is quite cumbersome and permit me to call it the science of art liberty where vocation is available but professionalism is scarce. I started quoting Aaron Siskind, let me end with him…”In any art, you don’t know in advance what you want to say – it’s revealed to you as you say it. That’s the difference between art and illustration.”