While most of us would not claim to be an artist, with a bit of gentle persuasion, we might admit to being artistic, and given the right tools and plenty of time to learn we could thrash out a fair still life in oils, or a recognizable landscape in watercolors, or a usable cup in clay. But with a camera, we can be artistic in perhaps the most immediate, direct way of all; just by observing the world around us.
Not even 20 years ago a camera was a cumbersome and complex piece of engineering, and the preserve of ‘the photographer’. Today, the opposite is true. Everyone has one in their pocket that’s every bit as sophisticated, and taking a photograph is as easy as switching on a light.
But the camera also has a superpower. It has the ability to allow us to be artistic even when we are not using it; just by being in our pocket it makes us more aware of the world around us. Walking along the street, beside a river or up in the hills, with a camera in our pocket, we are unintentionally scanning for a moment to capture; unconsciously poised to take the photograph as it appears to us. With a camera in our pocket, our artistic superpower is switched on the moment we leave the house.
That’s not to say taking good photographs is easy. Far from it. It’s is a skill to learn and it can be difficult and challenging. Correct framing, good light, angles, subject, time of day… all need consideration. But with such immediate results, and with easy to use technology, we can progress quickly and develop an artistic style of our own in a very organic way.
Armed with our camera we naturally, almost effortlessly see the world a little differently. We instinctively look for things that are interesting, funny, moving, and unusual to capture. We look up at the sky and up at buildings, or down on the ground, or into the distance. We do it because we have a camera in our pocket. And even if we don’t use it, we still look, and we still see the world a little differently. Our camera has opened our eyes. And while we may not be about to be exhibited or claim to be an artist, and even if we don’t take the picture, we see it; we see the world through a new, artistic, lens.