Photographic Freedom And Letting Go Of The Three Ps – Professional, Pixel Peeper, Perfectionist

Photography is very important in my life, not least of all because of the freedom it gives me.

Here are three Ps I’ve let go of to give me that freedom, and make photography as precious and as enjoyable as it is.

Professional

I’m not a pro photographer, I don’t do it for a living, and have no income from it. And have no desire to.

This means I can shoot exactly the photographs I want to, when I want to, and where I want to (within reason, but for me these are the kind of nooks and crannies of the English countryside rarely frequented by many others anyway).

I can use the gear I want to – whether that’s a 50 year old 35mm film camera, a cheap plastic Holga, a 15 year old digital compact or my Android smartphone – as there’s no expectation from others to get a certain look or achieve a certain high quality finish.

And I don’t have to follow magazines and websites and forums to keep up with the latest gear and make sure I’m not being left behind.

Yep, I’m delighted to be a mere hobbyist amateur photographer rather than a professional, it gives me great freedom.

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Pixel Peeper

I can count on one hand the times I’ve zoomed in to a photograph of mine on screen to 100% or bigger. And half of those times have been by accident when I’ve miscued a keyboard shortcut to fit the image to the screen and instead displayed it at original size.

If you want to print images two or three metres wide and you’d like them to be near flawless, I can see why you might experiment with different equipment and peek at the pixels to see how they’re going to look blown up this big.

But if you’re only printing at 6×4, 8×6, 12×8 inch, or even a bit larger, there’s no need.

This need reduces even further if you only ever share your photos online at small sizes.

Pixel peeping a huge image at 100% then just sharing it on Instagram where most people will see it at a width of about three inches is like spending months on an exquisitely embroidered tapestry, then hanging it at the top of a 50m tower and asking people to view it from the ground and appreciate the intricacy. In other words, ridiculous!

This is one reason I love using 6, 8 or 10MP cameras (sometimes even 4MP), because it gives me an image plenty large and detailed enough for my needs, without ever needing to zoom in and pixel peep.

Oh yes, I’m delighted with the freedom I gain from never thinking about pixel peeping.

Perfectionist

Whether it’s looking for the perfect camera, perfect lens, perfect film, perfect strap or anything else, we can spend almost forever looking for something that doesn’t exist.

My Lumix LX3 is incredible. But the handling out of the box is rubbish, so I needed to mould some foam and grip tape to make it handle well. It also has a noisy AF, an almost imperceptibly high tone that probably drives canines crazy.

My Ricoh GRD III is magnificent. But it has a fixed 28mm lens that is sometimes a little too wide and so distorts more than I’d like up close in certain compositions. Although it has contrast controls, I can’t get b/w images I like straight out of camera and always need some tweaking in Snapseed afterwards.

My Pentax Q is fantastic. But none of the lenses I have focus closer than 0.2m. The 01 prime 47mm lens is very good, but more often than not I want something wider. They didn’t make a wide angle prime so I have the 02 Zoom, which is 28-85mm. But whilst also very good, it’s not as great as the 01 prime.

With all of these cameras – three of my favourite I’ve ever had or will ever have – they’re less than perfect, they have their flaws.

But I’ve embraced their imperfections and focused on the 95% of them that is a joy to use and make photographs with.

If I was constantly looking for a single perfect camera and lens I’d still be buying a new one every week, like I was before I came to my senses a couple of years ago.

There’s no doubt, by letting of being a perfectionist I’ve given much greater freedom and enjoyment to my photography.

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How about you? Are any of these three Ps holding you back and restricting your photography in a way you long to break free of? What can you do about it? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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6 thoughts on “Photographic Freedom And Letting Go Of The Three Ps – Professional, Pixel Peeper, Perfectionist”

  1. Today I went back to shoot something I spotted and shot last week with the V1003. I brought the new Canon. Oops! Not enough zoom! Should have brought the Nikon. Yes, the ‘cheap’ ‘bridge’ camera would have done the job better than the DSLR or the ailing compact.
    Fortunately I can crop out of 18 MP enough of the view that it will be just fine. And in the meantime I’m still having fun with the new toy, even if all the gadgets which will make it fully functional have yet to arrive.
    Never leave out the Phun. 😀

    1. Sometimes it’s simply down to the function of a camera, for example the focal length of the lens or the maximum aperture. It doesn’t matter whether it’s brand new or 20 years old (I’m talking digital here).

  2. When I started with “serious” photography – almost four decades ago – I did have some professional ambitions. I photographed local events (e.g. sports), went home quickly to get started in the darkroom, and then had to go to the editorial office of the newspaper to submit my prints before the deadline. I definitely learned a lot in that time.

    Later I made an effort to work as a freelance photographer. But it soon became clear that pro photography is 20% taking photos and 80% marketing. You really have to sell yourself, an impossible undertaking for a socially awkward introvert like me. So that was that.

    Yet – although I have been shooting for myself for years now – I still prefer documentary work. Nothing pretentious, no “hard news”, but capturing events, festivals etc. I need a reason to take pictures, so much is clear. Occasionally gathering random pictures, it just doesn’t work for me.

    1. Yes I remember you talking before Robert about setting yourself personal assignments for photography, rather than just going out and wandering aimlessly.

      On the pro front, I think your estimate about the time taking photos is right, perhaps even less than 20% is the act of making photos.

      We had a shoot with our kids at the weekend someone gave us as a gift, but with a photographer we know and have used before. The shoot was about 90 mins overall, but the majority was just setting up backdrops, getting the kids in position and so on. And this is just the actual session of course. It doesn’t include editing and processing, sending us the images, managing payments and so on, before you even get on to marketing for new business.

      I think you’ve got to enjoy that whole set of interconnected activities to be a pro photographer. Which isn’t for me!

  3. I couldn’t have said it better myself Dan. I just got back from holiday and only brought one camera and one lens (Actually I packed a second, but forgot the 120 spool for the TLR) and had a ball. I also deleted my FB app and will delete my profile this week. However there was an interesting comment a few weeks ago by a fellow who designs industrial lenses that cost more than houses that he himself shoots micro four thirds cameras and stopped paying attention to camera reviews once cameras reached 12 MP which he thinks is overkill for casual photographers.

    1. Jon, that is interesting about the lens designer. I’ve said before in posts about my Lumix GF1 that it’s almost too good, too high definition for me, with a 12MP Micro Four Thirds sensor.

      Aside from my Pentax Q, also 12MP, the sweet spot for me generally is 8-10MP, and as you know, I’ve got very pleasing photos with 4MP cameras. I had a 6MP DSLR that delivered beautiful images.

      I think the manufacturers optimised cameras years ago and ran out of ideas, so just keeping adding stuff that hardly anyone uses or needs, just to try to market new cameras.

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