Taking Photography to the Next Level

Photograph/Gabriel Fuchs

Photograph/Gabriel Fuchs

Recently, I was invited to join a few friends who decided to have a ‘photo outing’. As I was not quite certain what that meant, I decided to come along, hoping for the best. It should seem that I never learn to be cautious when being around photographers.

So, there I was with a few buddies, all wearing some serious outdoor clothes, tripods, big bags with lenses, and big cameras. It kind of felt that we were going to climb Mount Everest. And off we went. First an hour of driving to get close to some spot where we had to be by some exact time in the early evening. Then a hike that was not allowed to take more than 30 minutes to get to some spot further away. And then, by some precise time, up went the tripods and the cameras were attached, all aiming towards the sunset. And this, I supposed, was a photo outing; taking more or less beautiful nature shots at sunset. Fair enough.

As for myself, I was taking photos of my buddies looking into their cameras while leaning slightly forward. My wide angle lens gave some impressive perspective distortions when used behind my buddies (after all, I could hardly stand in front of them at this time). Their bottoms looked really big and their heads really small.

And that was quite enough for me. I then turned around and took photos of flowers instead. They smell better.
Anyway, the advantage of taking photos at sunset is that one does not really have time to get bored. By the time one risks getting bored, the sun has set and it is time to leave. And where do a bunch of guys go in the evening? Easy. To the nearest bar. And off we went, back to the car, some driving, finding a bar, and there we were, beer in hand and foul in mouth.

Everyone really forgot the photography quickly and I realised that by doing so, we had just taken photography to the next level—the after-photo beer. The few times in the bar when we did actually speak about photography were when we imagined taking photos of one of the waitresses. Yup, put a bunch of guys together with some beer and the discussions get really focused.

Apart from discussions about photographing the waitress, there was some talk about what equipment we ideally wanted. Camera equipment, that is. As our ideal equipment tended to be too expensive, we quickly returned to the next level of photography, which meant more beer and discussions about the merits of cars, women and our colleagues.

After a few hours, I dare say that our photographic outing was taken to yet Taking Photography to the Next Level a higher level, when we went from beer to whiskey. We had now reached the photographic level referred to as the after-photo whiskey. At this time, the cameras came out of our oversized camera bags and photos were now being taken of whiskey glasses, waitresses, any waitresses, and signs on the walls. By now, photography had been taken to a level no one had quite imagined when we had initially set out for some nature photography at sunset. Now, we were getting really serious about photography. At least this is what it felt like in that bar late in the evening.

As for me, I started to quite enjoy photography. I never knew it could be like this. Even I could now understand what was going on. At least I thought so by now. Few around us in the bar probably could understand, but I felt I was finally in sync with my photographic buddies. All it took was a trip to a bar.

Anyway, taking photography to the next level was clearly an interesting experience. Now I was beginning to talk, somewhat incoherently, about how to take my photographer friend Anita to a higher level. By now, I had quite a few ideas on how to do that. Not certain if that would help her photography, but it would certainly help me feel better.
In the end, I realised that taking photography to the next level is all about getting some distance from photography so as to get the bigger picture (no pun intended). Will it help me or my buddies become better photographers? Heck knows. But it will help us having fun while being close to our cameras. And that is… fun.

This article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: better photography, Gabriel Fuchs, different strokes, march 2012, photo-walks, making photos with friends, shooting in groups, how to photograph sunsets, photographic buddies, how to get some distance from photography, having fun with photography