The Secret To Taking Successful Photographs Is Actually Really Obvious
Award-winning photojournalist Michael Chavez has just one tip for amateurs: Take a lot of photographs.
As a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Robinson Chavez has shot some of the most important stories of our time. But his advice to aspiring photographers is surprisingly simple: Take a bunch of photos.
"You just have to make a lot of photographs no matter what device you choose to use. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, that is the best learning tool there is."
So that's the easy bit. What about the hard stuff? In Sydney for the photographic festival Head On, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award winner Chavez told BuzzFeed how the different forms of photography can tell a powerful story.
On Film Photography: The Nostalgic Media
"Pixels and computer screens are no match for safe lights and foul smelling chemicals when it comes to the pure magic of photography."
Chavez feels that the traditional craft of making photographs has vanished in the digital age. Film photography has become a mere luxury, with a sentimental value most snappers who have transitioned to digital remember with fondness. But there is something magical about the look and feel of film that simply cannot be replicated.
On Digital Photography: The Fast and the Easy
"Being a staff photographer at the Los Angeles Times means we shoot most everything on digital. The quality is getting better with each successive generation of camera."
Moving to digital was a necessity for all photographers adjusting to modern technology. With tools getting better and better, Chavez admitted he rarely ever shoots film anymore. "I have become somewhat seduced and made lazy by the ease of digital," he says.
Yes, digital technology is the practical option, especially when working in a fast-paced newsroom, where one has no time to indulge in going through negatives or waiting for photos to print. But Chavez clearly misses shooting on film enormously.
On Mobile Photography: The Incognito Machine
"I can't tell you how many times I had a professional camera and was told, 'NO PHOTOS! IT IS FORBIDDEN!', while people around me are happily making photographs on their mobiles."
Chavez considers mobile photography as a blessing. To him, mobiles are gadgets that allow you to indulge in the craft even when you are just out in the world and stumble on something that captures your attention. There's also something about the anonymity mobile photography affords that appeals to him.
"In many places, such as airports, a large camera would bring heavy scrutiny, but you can break out your mobile phone and take just about any picture you want."
He also enjoys the role that social media platforms like Instagram have played for photography. "It's a great visual language and the ease with which you can share with so many other people is astonishing," he says.