Photographers are Problem Solvers

On the surface it’s quite funny to consider how much time photographers spend assessing gear and debating with each other about the importance of various camera capabilities. Interactions can get quite heated at times as people exchange their viewpoints. It occurred to me this morning that there is a very good reason why that happens. At the end of the day… photographers are problem solvers.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. I have included a selection of photographs of the Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden in this article to serve as visual breaks.

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO-400

When working on a client project… or even when capturing images for our own enjoyment… creating a quality image always involves understanding the strengths and limitations of our camera gear. As we all know… everything photographic come with some kind of trade-off.

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 8 mm, efov 21.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-400

Photographic opportunities can be fleeting as they occur at precise time intersections of subject matter and lighting. Sometimes if we do not capture that exact moment… the opportunity is gone forever.

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-400

When faced with one of these time limited opportunities our minds race as we review what image creating tool we have at hand. Sometimes it is our cell phone. At other times we may be holding a camera.

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-400

The challenge we face is always the same… how do we use what we have available to its best effect? That’s when “photographers are problem solvers” becomes a very personal experience.

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-400

I think that’s why people can get so emotional when they talk about camera gear. And… can get very defensive when someone says something disparaging about the gear they own. Each of us can vividly remember when we used our gear in a particularly clever or unique way. Our camera helped enable us to meet the challenge. At those precise moments our gear became a hero in our life. Who among us would not defend a hero?

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 9 mm, efov 24.3 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400

To be an effective problem solver we need to thoroughly understand the nuances of how to use the tools we have at hand. Keeping an inventory of a camera’s capabilities in our minds allows us to effectively address situations as they arise. That’s when seldom used camera functions can be worth their weight in gold.

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13 mm, efov 35 mm, f/16, 1/13, ISO-160

Clients have never paid me to create a photograph or a video for them. They have always paid me because I helped to solve a specific problem for them through the photographs or videos that I created on their behalf.

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7 mm, efov 18 mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-400

If you are searching for ways to differentiate what you do as a photographer take out a piece of paper. At the top of it write down “photographers are problem solvers”. Then, think about how you go about solving problems for clients with the work you do.

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO-400

What problems are you best suited to solve? How do you apply your creativity to solving client problems? What unique knowledge and experience do you have that allows you to solve client problems? What makes you the best problem solver your prospective client could hire for their assignment?

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/8, 1/15, ISO-400

When you can answer those questions clearly and succinctly you will become a better photographer for your clients. And, they will place more value on the work you do for them.

Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images in this article were produced from RAW files.

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2 thoughts on “Photographers are Problem Solvers”

  1. Tom,

    I think your choice of images are spot on — I love Japanese gardens, their elements for contemplation, the red bridge, the Nobedan path that intentionally slows down one’s walk so as to think and ponder. Your thinking also echoes mine — images/photographs are a means to an end. Especially in a client-photographer/videographer relationship, we are hired to come up not with just images but imagery that form a cohesive whole that form a solution to a problem/quandary/objective/dilemma. Brands, models, make of camera gear are important but not as valuable as human input, creativity, solutions, et al. Tools are only as good as the one wielding them.

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

    1. Hi Oggie,

      I agree. We can put any brand of camera in anyone’s hands and they can press the shutter release… and ‘take a picture’. Whether that photograph or video clip communicates precisely what a client needs to help solve a particular problem or challenge is a different issue.

      Tom

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