Photography 101

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2013 Presentation at Texas A&M Commerce:

For some of us in this room photography will be a matter of “snapping” pictures… vacation pictures, family pictures, baby pictures, whatever gets in front of your camera, you’ll take a picture.

BUT for others it will become a passion.

For those who allow it to take over your lives, prepare yourself for a journey that will last a lifetime.

As you look back, you’ll spot the beginning… and most likely it will be a picture that goes beyond the norm… it will be a picture that defines who you are and how good you may become.

For those who want to take good pictures, understand it takes work and dedication in the pursuit of greatness.

For some of you, photography will become a competition between you and all the other photographers at an event to see who can come away with the best pictures. Your ego will drive you.

For me the beginning took place at my hometown newspaper where I put into practice the skills I’d learned in the Air Force photographing everything from plane crashes to studio portraits.

01…a photograph I took at a football game ended up as a full page photograph in Life Magazine, which was the leading magazine of its’ day. That photograph led to a job with United Press International that lasted almost 25 years.

02… during those years I was fortunate and good enough to be part of teams of photographers that covered events from the Olympics to Superbowls, World Series, and other events such as the Masters Golf Tournament.

03… what I learned along the way was that timing is everything. From squirrels to
04… to rodeo
05… baseball
06… softball
07… basketball
08… volleyball
09… or even in nature photography…

suspended animation creates what I think of as “visual anticipation” of what is about to happen… it helps creates an interesting photograph.  The elusion of action grabs the viewers attention.
No matter the sport, the ball about to be caught is almost always better than the ball in a glove or a hand. The football fumble about to be recovered is more interesting than someone lying on a ball.

As a general rule, if you are covering a sporting event, the photo you take needs to have the ball in the picture. There are times when it isn’t necessary but for the most part be in focus and have the ball in the picture.

In nature photography, particularly with birds, flying, landing and taking off are all more interesting that sitting… though there are times when simply sitting on a fence post or something else can be quite attractive.

Lets talk about conflict as an ingredient in your pictures.

10 It doesn’t matter if there is conflict between gators or
11 hummingbirds
12 deer
13b other hummingbirds
13 young woodpeckers or athletes… conflict makes for interesting pictures and it will set your pictures apart from those without it.

Lets talk about the value of emotions in pictures.

Sometimes the emotions are quite subtle …
14 from a child looking in a mirror
15 or getting a close up look at an owl
16 or even the loss of an athletic event
17a  and sometimes the emotion comes from a gesture, wiping away a tear or
17b  the use of hands
17c or the body language of an individual
17 and of course there are the emotions of winning.

The angle you take to photograph your subjects can also improve your pictures and set you apart from the average photographer.

18 It took a ladder to rise above the subject and show off the row of vehicles
19c  It took lying on the ground to get the proper perspective of ants at work
20c  And it took a closeup lens to photograph the water droplet

Trying for the unusual will always produce failures and successes. Editing is part of showing only your top work and not your poor work.

Cropping is part of the editing process.
21  cropping is in your mind. You’re the photographer. Eliminate those parts of the picture that distract or take away from what it is you are attempting to show. In this photograph the attempt was to show two things, the cute dog and the armful of “stuff” and that it was all under control.

22 this is another example of  how tight one can crop a picture. The interest was in the eyes and facial expression as the subject gazed at her horse.


23a   and
23b  everything not essential to the picture has been removed

23 in the dragonfly photo there was an attempt to loosen the cropping to provide some depth as well as color background. In printed matter like newspapers and magazines or yearbooks, this may not be possible because of space.

24 Being aware of “special moments” helps separate one photographer from another. This young lady was in an art class and so riveted on the instructor at the front of the class that she went to some extreme not to miss a word while scratching her nose.

25 How often do you see “piggyback” turtles?

26 Or the interaction between a doe and her fawn?

27 Or an eagle bringing home “the bacon?”

28 Or a boat speeding through the glow of sunset?

29 Or a hummingbird trying to figure out what to do with that butterfly?


It’s our belief that those who want to take good pictures will more than likely do just that…
BUT… for those few who want to express their passion for life through photography, and with the intent to stir the very souls and emotions of others… for those who want to do that… Welcome to our world.

From having been consumed by this passion for more than five decades we can tell you it’s a great journey to be part of.