David duChemin is a photographer I’ve been following for a few years now. I’m not sure how I came across his blog, Pixelated Image, but after reading a few posts, I quickly decided that I could learn a lot about taking pictures from him. I’ve had a camera in hand to one degree or another for the past twenty years, so I’m familiar with aperture and shutter speed, while my long education in art has given me a solid grounding in things like composition and lighting. And yet, before I came across duChemin, I couldn’t find very many books or blogs that talked about more than just the technical skills I had already learned. My photography skills had plateaued, and finding someone who could push me past that was a challenge.
duChemin’s photography motto is this: “Gear is good, but vision is better”. It’s a philosophy I agree with whole-heartedly after dealing with many, many people who think that photography is all about megapixels and focal length. Yes, those are aspects that you need to learn to make successful photographs, but the technical parts aren’t the be-all-end-all. The different between a good photograph and a great photograph is the emotion it captures- how does it make you feel? what story is being told? do your photographs show what you were feeling about your subject? It’s an approach that has truly helped me to make better photographs in the past few years.
The Soul of the Camera came out recently, and after dithering about ordering a copy for a few weeks, I decided to just go ahead and get it.
I haven’t gotten very far into it, but so far, the points that duChemin has been making resonate with me. It’ll be exciting to get all the way through it and see how it affects my work in the future.
“It is we who put the humanity, the vision, and the poetry into our photographs.”
The Soul of the Camera
I took this photograph last August, during my trip to Ireland. I had arrived that morning after an overnight flight, jet-lagged, giddy with exhaustion, and clueless about what to do before heading to Galway the next day. I found a little tourist attraction built around Bunratty Castle.
One of the things that duChemin encourages photographers to do while traveling is to make connections with the people you’re photographing instead of just walking up to someone, taking their picture, and then wandering off.
I didn’t catch this woman’s name, but she was playing songs from the home countries of the tourists passing by. She played ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ for me, and then invited me into the little house she runs in the Bunratty Folk Village when it started pouring rain. We chatted by the fire for a while, and she played more music for me until the rain stopped, after which I asked if I could take her picture, and she agreed. This was one of my favorite memories and favorite pictures of my trip to Ireland, and it never would have happened if I hadn’t listened to duChemin’s advice.