I received an e-mail from a reader asking “Why do you do infrared photography, when regular photography is already so hard?
Here’s my answer to her and it has to do with how most photographers go through three distinct phases when they’re learning their image making skills:
- The First Stage occurs immediately after they get their first “good” camera and discover the photography’s potential as a medium for expression and also a great way to have fun. During this time, novice shooters explore their world with a high level of enthusiasm and every new batch of images contains photographs that look much better than they could ever imagined. Unfortunately, this blissful period doesn’t last long and is replaced with…
- Stage Two: During this period the shooter’s level of enthusiasm is still high but is diminished when reviewing his or her newest images only to discover that they are much worse than they had expected. It is the “shoot more and enjoying it less” phase.
- Stage Three occurs when the photographer improves their skills by studying,attending workshops and and most importantly practicing their craft. At this phase, the images these photographers see in their camera’s viewfinder is exactly the same thing as they expected. No surprises. While reaching this phase can be fulfilling, some of the magic is necessarily gone and sometimes, photographers slip back into Phase 2 and become discouraged. The real danger her is that the photographer keeps shooting the same images over and over again.
Now here’s the kicker: If you would like to experience some of the same thrill of discovery that occurred during the first phase of your photographic education, my suggestion is that you never stop exploring. Try some new things. Maybe it’s infrared photography, as shown in the examples above, because when you give IR photography a try you’re right back in Phase 1 and every image is a surprise, more often than not, a pleasant one. Whatever you do try something outside your normal comfort zone.
My book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is currently out-of-print but used copies are available from Amazon at less than $6, as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with new copies under $10 and used copies selling for $2.55 (plus shipping) which has to be one of the best book deals out their for what is my personal favorite book.