Should I take pictures like the one above? From your perspective, probably not, but I’m still trying out my 14 – 150 mm lens on the E-PL2, as well as techniques for carrying them, and learning about converting pictures to B&W; therefore, I have my reasons for shooting most anything. It’s hard to see it in this small picture (click on it and you can enlarge it several times), but I was trying out the technique of setting the camera to the aperture setting of f/8 and shooting a wide range of subjects to see how much detail the camera captured over a wide range. In addition, while taking the picture I started thinking about quantity vs. quality.
The first trees to succeed in a new forest are the faster growing softwoods. They grow easily, out produce the hardwoods, get above the hardwoods, and capture most of the light. But in time, since they are weaker trees, they succumb to insects, snows, and winds, and fall down and decay and provide nutrients for the other trees. This enables the persistent, but slower growing hardwood trees to grow and replace the softwood forests with the better hardwoods.
In the days of film most of us wouldn’t have taken many shots like the above due to the cost and work involved in developing and printing. I imagine that it took those “want-to-be photographers” a while to polish their skills. With digital pictures we no longer need to hold back. We can take all the pictures that we wish as we practice, etc. without incurring additional costs; but what about other aspects relative to how many pictures we take.
Professionals take quite a few shots with maybe only one out of a thousand ever getting to the public’s view … it’s often less. They have a subject in mind before ever going out, and research all aspects of the nature of whatever they will be photographing before they go out. After they get to where they plan to shoot, they often tend to make dozens of shots from different views, etc. For example, think about the professional landscape photographers. They often have quite an investment in getting to wherever they are going to photograph, and after they get there they might wait for days and days until the weather and light are just right. In fact, many return year after year trying to get the perfect shot of just one scene.
Some hobbyist photographers are what you might call opportunistic photographers. As time goes by, they photograph various things that they see as they go about their life. It might be pictures of the family or they might specialize in particular subjects. If it’s their kids they rarely have much time or are ready to capture the moment as it occurs and so they take fewer pictures.
Vacation photographers come from two different schools. First we have those who take few pictures since they are always waiting for the perfect scene and opportunity. The others are those who shoot everything as they see it and then they tend to sort out the good ones after they get home. These later types are often referred to as “spray & shoot” photographers. If they stop and think about every picture after they get home and consider what is good and what isn’t so good about each picture, they will learn and their success rate will improve with time. If not, they satisfy themselves with lots of so-so pictures and lots of rejects. How they use their pictures after they get home also influences which type of shooter they are. If they only want to have a few good pictures to show others, they tend to take fewer pictures and give more thought to each shot. If they intend to make a slide show, or daily journal of the trip, that documents the details of their trip they tend to take a lot more shots. In either case, these types of photographers take few pictures, if more than one, of whatever they are recording even if they take thousands of pictures per trip. They get it right the first time or they don’t get a quality shot.
Another type of photographer is the street photographer. These are photographers who are looking for the few decisive moments that they spot as they travel down the street, through the market, etc. They usually only get one chance to record the decisive moment but the total number of pictures depends on how observant they are and on how much they go out.
From my perspective, there are really only two types of photographers: The professionals and the rest who I refer to as “life photographers.” The life photographers are those who usually don’t specialize on one particular type of subject. They are out there to record life as it occurs no matter what the place or form. I’m a life photographer who is still learning, as I think most of my readers are. For both types of photographers, experience helps and that can only come from taking lots of pictures. In addition quality is created through continuous and dedicated practice. So the lesson I have learned is, take lots and lots of pictures but study each and every one of them and learn what technique works best. If I do this, hopefully the quality will follow.