My old professor shared a photo on his blog with the caption: the case of the cluttered photo with no strong focal point.
It hit home.
Lately, I’ve sucked at taking photos–or maybe I have ever since. My problems include not finding the right angle, not focusing on a subject (as mentioned), not getting enough color in the photo (which I know can be solved with the right aperture and shutter speed settings–the very things that are hard to achieve with a point-and-shoot camera), and many other things.
I’d like to think that at one point, perhaps during the time I was taking photography class during undergrad or the months after that, I was a good photographer. Very much inspired to take shots without hesitation, driven by the belief that in some ways, I had talent. I don’t know what happened, why all that disappeared. The courage, the not-caring about what others thought. I guess the hype surrounding photography reached its height, or my will was shattered by other people’s talents, which were displayed everywhere online.
Still, it may have also been because of my dad.
This weekend, I was reminded of how my dad hates every shot I take. We were out celebrating my parents’ wedding anniversary, and on our way home, we stopped at a picturesque area in Tagaytay to take some pictures of the scenery, and the both of them together. “It’s our anniversary; it’s only right that we have a photo together,” dad said. My brother, having just awoken from a short nap, wasn’t in the mood to get out of the car and help take the pictures, so as usual, I was the designated photographer.
As usual again, I just couldn’t get the shot right.
Dad had a look in mind: he and mom would be standing against this railing, and the background would be a view of the mountains and trees and a lone building at the foot of a hill. My first try was a complete and utter failure. I said the background looked so white because of the clouds and the fog, but when dad took a shot the background looked clear. My mistake… was that I didn’t hold the camera right–I should’ve placed it higher. Strike one. Then when I finally got the background, I didn’t get to include the building in its entirety, which was apparently something he wanted shot. Strike two. At this point dad was incensed with me, which was hurtful and embarrassing. After what seemed like five shots I finally got it right, and we all trudged back to the car. Or at least I did. Trudge, I mean.
Dad and I have always had our differences in photography. He hates it when I don’t put the subject in the middle, or when I don’t focus on what he wants me to focus on (as a subject), or when I don’t whip out the camera fast enough to take a shot of the scenery we’re passing by. This all began during our trip to Hong Kong in 2009, fresh out of my fun semester of photography class. It began because my camera was the only (functioning) camera we had back then (we also had a good video camera which could take stills, but we only used it for videos), and so I was assigned the task of taking photos. More often than not, I would be chided for not thrusting my camera at the right landmark or not knowing how to fix the settings for night shots, which were mostly blurred because of the many lights, as well as my nervous, unsteady hands, for fear of being reprimanded yet again. That vacation was one of the most memorable, because I loved that place and the fashion and the hustle and bustle of the daily activities of professionals. It was a beautiful vacation, but dad’s remarks during those three days really ruined me. I don’t know if that’s what destroyed my confidence in photography, but it may have been. From then on, I’ve just sucked at every shot.
Before the aforementioned happening in Tagaytay, I was contemplating buying a new camera for this outing my friends and I are planning sometime in October/November. The place my family stayed at this weekend was so stunning, I thought I should try photography one more time during my outing with friends in the future. But then dad’s little outburst reminded me why I kind of stopped. My simple, ugly shots of our vacation also reminded me why I’ve often felt inferior when it comes to photography. So at the moment, I don’t know about that new camera. Maybe I’ll just study taking shots more with my Canon Ixus before I spend for a new camera. I just know dad will make some nasty comment about getting a new camera.
The thing is, I can’t really beat dad at anything. The reason he’s been so easily bothered by my lack of abilities with taking shots is because he’s good at it. Not good like professionals and enthusiasts. Just good in the sense that he’s able to take snapshots of places and events and people that are memorable, that he’s able to save them all.
I guess it ruins me that dad’s so great at everything, there’s really no room for me to excel in anything he isn’t already good at. Maybe that’s bull, but I just can’t prove that it isn’t. More on this in a separate entry..