Feel More, Think Less. Use Wisdom, Not Knowledge. Use Heart, Not Mind. Why Sometimes it is Good to Make Decisions by Feelings instead of Logics and Rationales
Aug 26th, 2010 by AhYap
Yesterday I went to chat with somebody for 2 hours, a stranger. When I came home, I became very depress about myself [and angry]. What happened is really not a big deal. The main point of this story is later, when my 7-year-long girlfriend who is always able to be so happy no matter what happen every second and every minute of her life, said one thing to me and made me realized what’s wrong with everything.
The story is quite simple, I am getting my hands dirty on photography. Like everything I have learned, I learn from reading (books, internet…). But reading can make you that good only on theory! I need more practical opportunities and I hope to have more guidance from experienced photographer.
There are many outings that I can find but most of them are in KL (some in Penang). Ipoh? We do have some where 300 photographers trying to shoot 4 models. What can you learn?
Then I found a guy who is in the business (a ‘pro’) for a very long time in Ipoh. So I went to see him and offered to be a FREE mobile-light-stand and bell-boy for him in exchange for his guidance. This is the first time I did this kind of thing so it is very fresh to me. I didn’t know what is going to happen.
Usually I can easily grasp the character of somebody after some chat, especially 2 hours. But this guy, I am unable to do so at all. Proud? Don’t look like. Humble? Don’t look like? Ego? Sometimes can see sometimes cannot. Do I like him? No. Do I hate him? No. It’s quite hard to understand and connect. A feeling of ‘so near yet so far’. [we will know why at the ending]
He invited me over, so I jumped out of joy and went straight to his office. He welcomed me too and we started to chat. Remember I am a stranger and he didn’t need to layan me at all but he ended layan me for 2 hours.
The first question was what camera body I am using. I told him I got a 7d before but have sold it. He was very shocked and asked me why. I told him I want to upgrade to 5d mark ii, a full frame camera. He kept showing his “unable to take it” look and make me so uncomfortable. He asked me why I need to upgrade since 7d is already a very good body. [In canon terms, 7d is a prosumer body, between consumer and professional. 5d mark ii is a professional body. Lower series are ‘consumer’ and higher are ‘flagships’ or simple ‘high end’]
Since I have done lot of homework and my “theory” in extremely good. I can basically write an essay on why. I can of course answer and tell him my reason but based on his “unable to take it” look earlier, you know that the point is not to be able to explain and make myself right. I don’t win by being right. Because I am the “student” here and he is the “teacher”, you want to challenge him? Especially you want to learn from him? So my explanation will be useless and I didn’t really say anything, just pretend to be an idiot.
He asked me, “Do you know what camera I am using?”. How do I know right? But I think everyone is smart enough to guess that he is going to tell you that he uses some low end gear, to create a big contrast about my choice and his. I said I don’t know.
He said he is using Nikon D70 to shoot all his works. He never uses “professional” cameras even he is a “professional”. D70 is more low end than I expected. It is the first consumer level digital camera from Nikon launched in 2004 (!!). We are in 2010.
He even told me that he can shoot his work using kit lens [cheap lens that comes with the body]. But luckily he did admit that lens is more important than camera body. Luckily.
He then asked me why I want to learn photography and what I want to shoot. Again, I am not a gugujiao who don’t know the answer. I already know what I want to shoot and I can write the exact list out, 1, 2, 3 and 4. And also the list of things I don’t want to shoot. So I am clear. [I won’t explain what is the meaning of gugujiao to you so if you don’t know, ask a 1Malaysia friend to make us closer to each other, but ask a guy not a girl]
Luckily he seems to be happy. My first answer is people. So he asked me why I choose Canon if I want to shoot people. My brain was like (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????????????????).
The reason why my brain looked like that is not because I don’t have an answer, but I thought isn’t the answer is very obvious to everyone? Why this question from him?
I told him the exact answer and also the main reason why I like Canon so much. I said, “I choose canon because of the skin tones. It looks better to me. Nikon skin tones look too orange to me”.
He answered me, “So you like the plastic skin of Canon?” He said that until today [very big conviction from his voice and physiology], Canon cannot produce the correct skin color of the people. He said if you print a photo out and put it side by side on the real skin, Canon cannot match the color but Nikon can.
The attack of Nikonian that said Canon skin look like plastic and the Canonista said Nikon people look like “orange man” is not rare. I do agree to a certain extend of it BUT there are many variables to it other than just the camera – white balance, color of light source, JPEG profile settings, etc.
I started to learn about photography March this year. There is a time where I get totally confused about what photography is all about? Is it trying to capture the “correct” and “real” image? Will Photoshop or changing color saturation make a photo “incorrect” and “fake”? Struggle for sometime… and later I wrote an article in my diary with the title – “Photography is a deception” which is stolen from a popular phase “Art is a deception” [mainly refer to drawing].
The article is not a good read so I am not wasting your time here. Mainly what I realized is, everything you see in a photo is fake, is a deception, no matter how you take it. No matter if you photoshop it or not photoshop it. Once you bring this 3d world into a 2d picture with 4 borders, it can no longer be real no matter what. Think about drawing. If you draw the Twin Towers, are the twin towers real? If you draw my face, is me real? So photography is also art. Its purpose is not about right or wrong, real or fake. It’s purpose, is about getting beautiful pictures. Exactly like drawing.
Just to extend my shit philosophy a little bit. Just look at black and white photographs. Are our world in black and white only? NO! Black and white itself is a deception. Because the “correct” world got color. But who cares? As long as it looks beautiful! Photography is an art. Understand this make me even more interested in photography.
So for the skin tone debate, there is no right or wrong skin color for me. It is a personal preference. I want good looking skin color, not the “correct” color.
He told me he used to use Canon but has switched to Nikon because of the skin color. Switching a system because of the skin color, you got to know how big is his conviction!
The main reason why this part of the conversation him is so important is because last month, I also spoke with another professional photographer who also make a lot of money taking pictures. He told me exactly the opposite thing!
He told me he is a Canon guy for a long time. Later get itchy because everyone told him how good Nikon is. So he switched to Nikon but later switched back to Canon. I asked him why. He told me that Nikon cannot get him the skin color he want no matter what!
2 professional photographers! 2 talking about the same thing! 2 different convictions! My God!
Because of this, it makes it clearer that photography is an art and is very subjective. It is your camera. It is your photo. Just make it the way you like it disregarding what other people is going to say about it! It is our choice! Our art! Our “master-piss”!
Suddenly remind me of religion too. I am Buddhist, you are Muslim, he is Hindu. All of us are doing what we think are right. None of us are wrong. What the best we can do is to stop telling other people that they are wrong and start respecting their choices!
When somebody tell you your decision is “wrong” and he is “right”, just tell him, “I respect your choice and I hope you will respect mine”.
That’s useful when debating in writing (such as internet forum) but I didn’t use it in real life. I do tell him the story of the other photographer I met, but I still let him have most of the ‘winning’.
Then later he told me the hierarchy system of his photographers team. I can’t remember the exact naming but it is roughly like this – newbie, assistant, standard, junior, senior and professional.
Newbie can only sit in classroom, doing lecture. Assistant can carry lights and bags only [which I am trying to interview for]. Standard can carry camera but can only be 2nd shooter and shoot non important stuffs like cakes and bridal shoes. Junior onwards can represent company to go out and take photograph. He himself is the ‘professional’ of course. Differences between them is the ‘quality standard’ and pricing.
He is very proud and satisfy with his team, so he shown me the sample of a junior work. Sample that is also shown to all potential customers when they come to the office. He keep saying things like, “We always maintain our quality”, “Customers like our work”, “If you can get this kind of quality, you say not good enough?” blar blar blar. What I want to say is that he is very confident with his works and standard.
I carefully opened the album and looked at the photos. This is the most struggling part in the whole conversation. God want to test my acting ability? I am totally unimpressed with the photos. If I am a potential customer, I will not want this photographer to take my pictures (he is not the photographer of this album, it is one of his junior, the lowest standard, and the cheapest).
There are photos that are blur/missed focus, all photos look yellowish and orange, they shoot a lot of white overexposed sky and there are telephone poles in the background and the wires crossing over bride and bridal head. For me, they are ordinary, like those photos we took with compact camera and print 3R and put in the free album the photo shop gave us.
I was so struggling. I wanted to comment but I feel difficult. He kept on repeating, “Like this not enough ar? Customers very happy lor”, “See our standard, see our standard”. For me is very clear, if I can only learn to shoot this kind of photos, I don’t want to learn photography. This is not want inspire me to become a photographer.
Then I beh tahan a bit and started to comment. I asked him why the photos so orange and yellowish. He is shocked a bit. He didn’t expect me to comment since he is so confident with the ‘standard’. He looked at the photos and said it is because of the clothing and wall. Then I asked him why so many blur photos. He said that is acceptable because the guy was using Nikon D90 and kit lens. He said that it is a trade off between kit lens and good lens. So this was not the photographer skill problem. I then talked about the white sky and telephone wire. He said these photos are used straight out of the camera without processing. If go through processing they can remove them or even make sky blue. He said again, “Customer like it”.
Since I am not impressed with the photos. I was feeling that if I were “pain in the ass” going there to get lectured. But I am very confused. He said he has shot for 20+ years and he has 3 generations of customers. Most customers are from mouth to mouth introduction!
I thought, maybe this speak for himself? Something wrong with me? He is still in business with lots of photographers and he always has new business. Maybe I have missed something. Maybe he is really very good. Maybe if I really follow him I can learn real things…
It was a 2 hours conversation, there are still many more similar sub stories. Like he told me that a photo on his wall win a competition. I asked him is that skin color correct [is it Nikon color] because it didn’t look good to me [composing is good, color is not]. He said no, it is already greenish. Hmmm, a picture that win competition with greenish skin. Many many more sub stories which I don’t want to bore you with …
I went home very depressed. Look like small matter but very depress to me. Very confuse. Very angry some more. Lots of mixed emotions. It is like suddenly I am no longer interested in photography and want to quit it for all.
At night I chat with my old course mate aka housemate in University, who is a good photographer shooting wedding days part time every weekend! He is a Canonista. We began our conversation with “Why you choose Canon over Nikon, especially you admire people like Joe McNally and Louis Pang so much?” [both are super heavyweight pro Nikon shooters. Pang charged more than 10k per shot!]
Our conversation went into my story of the day and I show him some of the photographs he has taken. I want to know if there is really something wrong with me. Fortunately I am not. His comment is that his photographs is so so only and he is “old style”. I immediately agreed with the “old style” description, thanks to his 20+ years repetition works?
And it reminds me that he is so confident with himself that he said he already gotten bored with taking photographs. He said he will not travel with an SLR anymore. Remind me of a Friends TV episode where Rachel met a gynecologist [doctor who deliver babies] who don’t want to have sex. He said, “You know, it is like drinking coffee every day for so long until you saw that coffee and felt, ‘what? coffee again?’” [got the humor? :)]
So this guy seems to lose his interest and passion in photography. For him it is more on business and work. ‘Maybe’ he is already full and no longer interested in exploring new things as he always like to say, “Every time go there, so familiar, close one eye can shoot already”. Familiar might be a curse word for creativity and passion.
But I am still confuse about whether I should follow him to learn. Maybe the opportunity is worth it, especially in Ipoh? Especially I am a good ass kisser and can easily pretend that I am OK with everything while in my heart is not? Because my level so newbie, any teacher will be a good teacher? Is there something for me?
My lovely girl friend came to look for me. Again, she is the type of girl that is 100% opposite of me. While I need to worry about everything, she is not worry even if the sky fall down tomorrow.
I told him the story and why I am so depressed. I asked him should I learn from him. This is the kicker! She didn’t even need to comment on Nikon or Canon, plastic man or orange man, new style or old style, blur or not blur, telephone wire or no telephone wire … [she know nothing about these and she has 0 interest and problem holding an SLR].
She just said, “Your frequency and his frequency not the same lar, you better don’t stick with him”. Again, whether he shoot good or bad photos, use Nikon or Canon, is not a matter of consideration to her. For her, it is so simple, the frequency not good, both not matching, don’t stick together, sure won’t end up nice.
She then mentioned the other photographer that I chat with [the one who switched from Canon to Nikon then back to Canon]. She reminds me of how great my experience is when with him. The feeling is so good and I learn so much from him in 1 short day. Now I understand that is because we have matching frequency. She said I should learn from people like him.
This is absolutely brilliant to me, just a simple opinion from a few words and make my decision so much easier and feel so good about it.
Trust your feeling more. Feeling is hard to lie. Logical debating and rational thinking make no sense sometimes and can be totally useless [like my debate earlier]. It is the feeling that count ultimately. The most important is to be able to “feel good” [which means you got the right frequency].
To bring it a level higher, even if I am very impressed with his photos and that is exactly what I like to learn and shot, the decision should still be the same, if frequency not same, stay away. Have really nothing to do with who is right or who is wrong.
Feel more, think less.
Use wisdom, not knowledge.
Use heart, not mind.
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