Be Picky. Force yourself to Grow.

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Penny 2 Comments

One of the many aspects of photography that really grabs me and makes me pick up my camera is the ability to tell stories through images. YOUR story, well your interpretation of the story.

It is all about the frame. This is where your story takes place and there are multiple aspects that one needs to keep in mind when composing their frame. I have noticed that when approaching a sighting, or just as the vehicle breathes its last before being turned off at a sighting, there is a mass clatter of shutters going noisily off. Add a pause for the buffer to ‘do its thang’, and the shutter resumes its full speed ahead!

All the while, that one cub – that is making its photographic debut – is still looking steadily ahead. Not a movement. Not a blink of the eye, yet ‘hear’ these shutters go off like it’s having a good round of terrorizing its fellow siblings or its mother that just wants to carry on sleeping the day away.

My point? By picking up your camera and gung hoing it, how can you be thinking about important aspects of photography and how it will relay into your final image? I have had a year of my photography morphing dramatically from when I first started. Yes, I was trigger happy and filling up memory cards as if I would never be able to take an image ever again, but what did that do? Apart from hours spent on sifting through the umpteenth identical image – Ha! The grass in that one is slightly to the side. Winner! – I found myself and my images becoming stagnant and, well, just boring actually. There was nothing to the images. Some were nice but Eh.

I want more than nice. I want ME to come through. I want my STORY to be shared and viewed by those who want to be a part of that moment with me.

So what do you do?

1. Surround yourself with like-minded people. And by like-minded I am photography inclined. Not Chai tea inclined. That would lead to Vida Cafe getting rich and me being dirt broke..


Surrounding yourself with like-minded people  – I have learnt SO much by listening to other photographer’s views, looking at their images, hearing their thoughts about a particular technical or creative tool, and basically absorbing this and that and applying it where I can and want. It’s amazing to see the different images two people can get from the same sighting while sitting next to one another.

2. Don’t disregard advice or ideas. You don’t have use them, but keep them in mind for a rainy day. Who knows, that little piece of advice could change your photography from being nice to ‘take note of..’.

3. Listen to your photographic voice. When you approach a scene, instead of getting all giddy and hurriedly picking up your camera, think about what about the scene presented is making you feel giddy and reach for your camera. Is it because there is a lion cub? Ok that’s good. What about the lion cub do I want to portray? What story do I want to tell? Is it a portrait of it, or how about that expression on it’s face?

Now that I know what I want to show, what settings can I use to accurately portray my vision.

By just doing No 3, I have created a more powerful image as there is intent behind everything in the frame, what is included and excluded, what is in focus and what isn’t, the placement of my frame and my subject within it.

Already I have created an image that portrays what I want the viewer to see. The story I want told.

© Penny Robartes - Wildlife and Nature Photographer

What will 20 of the identical images do in improving YOUR photography?

By consciously looking at the scene, thinking about why you want to photograph it, choosing what story you want to tell and how, you will grow as a photographer as you are being conscious and not letting the clatter of the shutter speed take over your thoughts.

Stay passionate and keep shooting!


Penny Robartes

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Comments 2

  1. Nancy Moon

    Hi Penny, so well said. I am on a beach vacation at the moment, relaxing before I join the safari with Wild Eye in a week. I took gobs of images of one person, well 500 to be exact. And out of that she loved 40 of them. What was I doing? I joked and said at this rate I have to buy more memory cards. No. I will be more conscious. I’ve already finished a blog about this very thing. Thanks for showing me that I’m not the only one.

  2. Penny Robartes

    Thanks Nancy!

    It is hard not to get carried away taking images, and sometimes it is a good thing to just let go and take, but that in itself is also a conscious decision!

    I think that if we are just aware of why we are picking up our cameras and what image we want to create, the rest will start to fall into place and it will become easier with time.

    Have an incredible time in the Mara, let it fill you up and pick the brains of your guides 🙂

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