Here at Vagabond Vistas, we believe that to truly master the art of photography, one must take an integrated approach to learning the craft. Becoming “expert” in photography does not come down to understanding just one or two aspects of the art form, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, or with the purchase of a lot of expensive gear. It is a combination of many things, and they are all essential, for they all must come together simultaneously in order to consistently create quality photographs.
This holistic approach to photography, developed by David Simchock, is applied to every Vagabond Vistas event, be it a two-hour photo tour in Asheville, a special seminar at his studio, or throughout a multi-day excursion in the Andes Mountains.
Understanding LIGHT: There is nothing more fundamental to understanding photography than having the ability to analyze and understand “light”. For, without light, we do not have photography. And, after all, what is photography but the recording of this thing called “light”? Any discussion about how to be a better photographer would not be complete without exploring the evaluation of light. What is good light? Bad light? What is the ideal light for a given situation? And, if the light is not ideal, then what, if anything, can be done about it? Despite light being the primary element of photography, it is often “bad light” that makes for a sub-par photograph, even if you get everything else correct!
Camera Gear: With a Vagabond Vistas Photo Tours event, your instruction will certainly help you appreciate the importance of quality gear (cameras, lenses and accessories) as well as understand the possible limitations of some equipment (e.g., the aperture in many lenses). But, owning high-end gear by no means guarantees high-end imagery, nor does owning lower-level gear prevent one from creating top-quality photos.
Buttons, Dials & Menu Items: Of equal importance, is our emphasis on technical competency in using the gear. There is no use in having a bag full of expensive gadgets if the photographer limits him/herself to just the “automatic” functions. This is particularly important when it comes to understanding “exposure” controls (aperture / shutter speed / ISO). But, with today’s advanced technology, it is also essential to understand other facets of a camera’s operation, such as lens operation (including auto-focus), white balance and optimizing the use of accessories such as filters.
Composition: Decent gear and technical knowledge can only take a photographer so far. Without a sense of “good” composition, a photographer’s results will still fall short. So, to complete the skill-set, we work with our clients to develop their “creative” side and, in essence, we teach them how to see differently. In a digital world that can be somewhat technically overwhelming, this is always a very enjoyable facet of our service.
Digital Workflow & Editing: Of course, understanding digital editing and having a sound “digital workflow” from capture to archive is also of high importance to the modern photographer — both hobbyists and professionals alike. Though it may not be practical to cover “computer” best-practices while on the road, we certainly stress the importance of workflow / editing to our clients. It is particularly important that today’s photographers understand the power of their software in advance of creating an image with their camera. There are some things that simply cannot be done “in camera”, just like the film days where certain “image enhancements” were done in the dark room. Having said this, we also emphasize that the likes of Photoshop cannot be a replacement for a solid grasp of fundamental photography skills, not the least of which is understanding exposure.
Passion: Finally, none of these essential, inter-connected skills would be very effective if we didn’t inspire in our clients a passion for photography. By sharing our vast knowledge of the craft – while holding nothing back — Vagabond Vistas clients not only take away a wealth of creative skills, but they also develop an insatiable appetite for this wonderful and ever-expanding art form. It is the collective synergy produced by our learning philosophy, along with this passion, that makes every Vagabond Vistas photo tour an enjoyable and stimulating experience.