3 cool things about sucking at photography

When I first bought my Nikon DR3300 DSLR camera, I had no idea I would dig it so much.  I can’t say I know what I’m doing or that I have any skills as a photographer.  As a matter of fact, I can even go so far as to say that I suck: I often forget my ISO settings from one place to the next, or shake when I’m in aperture mode.  All too often, my pics are either too light or dark or out of focus.  Still, I’ve found that there are three (3) cool things about sucking at photography:

  1. I lose track of time

Because I have no idea what I’m doing, I often walk around looking for cool subjects.  I figure that cool subjects can overcome my lack of technical skill.  So, I walk around, often in strange places, looking for stories among the detritus of a junkyard or abandoned building.  But what I love most is that time seems to dissipate within the search for cool stuff to capture.  Because my “real-world” requires mitigating tons of frustration and other rotten emotional energy, getting to lose my sense of time and space is a treat – it’s my reward to myself to not running and hiding from my responsibilities.



         2. I find treasures upon which I can reflect

When I do find a cool subject, it’s often because I either sense or create a story that the subject wants to tell.  It’s as though there’s an energy that attracts me and connects me to the subject’s life.  For example, when I see a something like a rusted propane tank, I can’t help but think of a barbeque where a family was celebrating something.  Uncles and Aunts and brothers and sisters would have been gathered together talking, maybe even playing guitars and singing, while burgers and hot dogs grilled into culinary masterpieces, even if they were burnt.  The tank served a purpose and has a story to tell, I consider it my responsibility to tell those stories, even if they’re nothing more than projections of my own experiences.  Those moments of reflection and creativity center me and become my own little “Zen gardens” in which I feel a great sense of peace.


        3. I finally have a reason to use GIMP

GIMP is an open source image manipulation program, kind of like Photoshop, except that it’s not nearly as expensive. As a matter of fact, it’s free, yet in spite of its cost, it’s quite powerful.  I figure that, since I often can’t shoot very well, I’d better learn how to “fix” my photos in GIMP.  Well, I have a lot to learn within GIMP, as photography is complex and learning how to use GIMP will take a while.  But, I have gotten to use GIMP as an illustration tool, as evidenced by this sketch and finished rendering of my cartoon dude that I call Sam.



I’ve drawn him for years and have always dreamt of digitizing him, and in the process of learning how to fix my crappy shots, I’ve learned how to use layers to “draw” him electronically.  It was a rush to create in an electronic format and I have my crappy photography skills to thank.

I have a long way to go before I can say I even know how to use my camera, and probably even longer to go before I can even shoot a half-way decent photograph.  But, no matter how long it takes, I’ve learned something new and in this learning, I have found a new way to displace the energy I absorb in my “real-world.”  Sucking at photography is quite

One comment

  1. This is beautiful, and totally parallels the experience I had when I got my first real camera, maybe ten years ago. I interacted with the universe very differently, saw things differently–something I never intended or anticipated. Thanks, Juan, for capturing this experience for us! And I STILL suck and do not really know how to use it !!!

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