Simplification and Complication in Photography

Yesterday was a mental health day-all glorious day long. Ahhhh.

I wanted to be alone, truly alone, with only my thoughts and company, with camera in hand, recording life, in fractions of a second, as she whisked by.


It paid off. Aloneness always pays off for me.

Throughout the day, with seeming every click of the shutter, I couldn’t help but marvel at, how photography, is both sublimely simple and painstakingly complicated. Flip sides of the very same coin.

Most casual consumer types, with little-to-no photography training or background, especially with phone cameras, see only the simple part of this equation. This is the sheer genius of mobile photography. Gotta love it.

That’s because so much of the photography tech stuff is hidden, under the hood, out of sight, invisible if you will. Steve Jobs, and our friends at Apple, designed our phone cameras, to make the tech a silent partner in the creative process. And they have achieved this wonderfully.

But prosumers and experts photographer types will be quick to tell you that it is, in fact, the learning of the complicated stuff, that makes photography stand out and unique among a sea of mediocre-at-best imagery

There is no achievement of simple without going through the crucible of complicated.

Light. Color. Design. Composition. Exposure. Focus. Color balance. Texture. Mood. Emotion. Timing. Lines. Aspect ratio. Orientation. Bracketing. Camera angle. Lens choice. Camera to subject distance. Compression. Cropping. Sharpness. Noise. Dynamic range. Distortion.

The reason, for me, that photography is simple, straightforward, uncomplicated, undemanding, because I have spent, literally, decades, grinding over the mechanical and technical parts of the equation that make a photograph great.

Yes, photography is simple. But only when the practical, scientific, applied part of the equation, the complicated stuff, becomes reflexive, second-nature, automatic, instinctive.

Sooner or later, you gotta learn the more complicated stuff of photography if you want your photographs, consistently, to shine.

Anybody and I mean anybody, on occasion, can take a spectacular photograph, without knowing or understanding all the tech behind its very creation. Click.

But only a hobbyist, expert, or pro can repeat, with consistent results, photograph after photograph, similar results. Click again.

Eventually, you need to master the complicated stuff to make the simple stuff.

Simplification, in photography, depends on complication.



Jack Hollingsworth