Knowing How to Prepare a Photo Project is a Must for a Photographer
In previous articles, I described the various steps I use for landscape photography. These three essential steps result the production of images that are ready to be used. But do I follow the same process with my wildlife and underwater photographs?
For wildlife photography, the answer is yes. The preparation time is much longer than for landscape photography. It involves learning the paths that animals use, or finding where the birds in the area feed and nest. As I are always in a blind for wildlife photography, I often have to wait for days. I always use guides to help me learn the animals’ habits and the places where they like to feed. Once I have acquired this knowledge, I need to adjust my techniques to fit the situation. It is not always easy. For example, when I photograph wild pigs close up, I must always take care not to block the pathway they use. They always need space to escape, or they can become aggressive and dangerous. Even though I am in a blind, sooner or later they always smell me and run away.
Once I have chosen a place to set up my blind, it can take me days to get my pictures. Taking pictures from a blind is just a question of time and patience. Sometimes, the animals simply don’t show up. Sometimes the lighting is bad. Sometimes the weather is rainy. I meet with numerous problems. Processing wildlife photos is exactly the same as it is for landscape photos, and, just like landscape photos, they must fit my photographic vision.
For underwater photography, the answer to the question is also yes. But the recognition phase is very different. The time I can spend underwater is usually limited to one hour, and I can only make three dives per day. The constraints of human physiology make it simply impossible to really reconnoiter a dive site. Instead, the recognition and shooting phases are combined. This is why I need to dive the same site multiple times in order to achieve really outstanding photographs. I often dive several times in the same place, and I gradually learn the species that live there and master the light for my scenery pictures. Scuba divers usually want the maximum number of dive sites in their logbook. The more names they have the better it is. For me it is completely the opposite. I try to dive to one interesting site as much as possible to learn more about it.
Underwater photography is not a very technically complex field. The real difficulty is the time constraints.
Whether for wildlife or underwater photography, I follow the same steps as a landscape picture to create a good photo. Only the environmental constraints are different.
True, it is possible to take absolutely beautiful pictures with no preparation. Every day, whether in magazines or on websites, I admire wonderful pictures that make me dream. They are often photos that were taken on the whim of the moment, with no preparation. But does this mean that all these great pictures were taken by great photographers? For most of them, the answer is no. I always judge photographers by the entire body of their work. A single picture, exceptional as it may be, does not make the person who took it a good photographer.
Finally, anyone can pick a ripe fruit from a fruit tree. But how many people are able to grow the tree? There are only a few: I call them gardeners.
Anyone can press the button on their camera and take a picture. It might even be a good picture. But how many people can prepare a series of photographs — all of them good — that tell a story? Like good gardeners, there are only a few of them. I call them photographers.