We have all been there: reading photo blogs, and thinking: Wow! great pics, so different from where I live, with the dull backyard and poor light. Well, that is true, but also not so true.
Obviously, not everyone lives in Patagonia, where you can see this and watch dolphins play and feed
Things started for me when I got to “know” people on a photo forum. Because I live close to Paris, I invited one chap to come shoot with me, and, to my great surprise, he immediately accepted, so I set up a shoot. Because Samuli Vahonen, my newfound friend, is a great photographer, but who had never come to Paris, I could choose with a free hand, and I selected the Louvre.
Of course, for someone as good as he, I had to do it right, so it was early morning and on a tripod, far, very far from my usual practice, which was more like “any light, and handheld”. Results spoke for themselves:
We went to Versailles, and to Notre Dame. All places that I had seen countless times, and shot to my “satisfaction”. But this time, when I was with Samuli, as considerate as he is knowledgeable, suddenly “good enough” was no longer “good enough”; It had to be “good”, and he pushed me to elevate my game.
Then, when I was already more than satisfied with my shots, I saw what he had done, and that pushed me to increase my expectations even more. Here is one page of his Notre-Dame shots, handheld of course because tripods are not allowed, which is one of my all-time favorite church shots and HDR shots as well.
It seems that he does not allow linking, so here is the URL:
http://vahonen.com/index.php4?id=900030#opensegment and the shot in question is the first one…
So I thought to myself, I have learned so much from just a couple of shoots with just one guy (OK one great guy, but still), so it does feel like a great way to at the same time learn, shoot great pics, and spend fine time.
So when the next opportunity presented itself, on the same forum, I invited another great photographer who also sounded like a nice guy to do the same: come to Paris, and shoot. His answer: “no, but, if you want to come and shoot with me in Germany, you’re on!” And he gave me a list of choices, one of which had been on my to-do-list for ever: Ludwig II’s “crazy castle” Neuschwanstein and nearby Hohenschwanggau. The forum-friend’s name is Boris. He picked me up the Munich airport, drove us on site, and this is the result:
From there, it was clear to me. Photography follows Edison’s rule for genius: 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration. Except not quite, because one major aspect of shooting together is comparing what different people made of the same photo opportunity, both on the technical and on the aesthetic aspects.
Thhis was even more clear when another chap from Berlin took the time to organize a shoot with whomever wanted to come. There have been 6 such meetings now, centered around photo tours of former East German buildings that are dilapidated but still safe. Not only is it great fun being with these guys, but comparing results is the best part. Who has seen what? How did he shoot it? Equipment varies, from Leica to NEX to 5D to D3. Lenses range from Zeiss Distagon 21 to Leica R 60 Makro, sometimes for the same shot…
Here is the thread where this meetings are organized, and where the resulting pictures are shown: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1031549/5
Since then, of course, it has been the Lofoten with Luka, Patagonia with Boris, other meetings in Berlin with Carsten’s group, meeting Bob in Paris, etc.. And of course the great Pascal, of DearSusans fame. The amusing thing is that, while I am having a great time meeting him, for a variety of reasons we haven’t had a single opportunity to shoot good pics together…:-)
So, in conclusion, this bit of advice: don’t hesitate to get together with others and shoot. It is a great way to have fun and and improve one’s game at the same time!