I received a most encouraging email from a client as follows: “In talking to you I noted that you and your wife both are into photography, so I proposed giving my wife my Sony a350 and get her into shooting her own pictures. She was a little hesitant to the idea saying she did not have the “artist’s eye”. I printed out one of you columns on ‘What Makes a Good Photograph’. She read it and realized that each person has their own take on what makes a good picture, and the short of it is, she is willing to take up photography with me”.
Personally, I think much of my enjoyment of photography would be missing if my wife, Linda, was not also a photographer, and it is great that we both enjoy this exciting medium and can share the experience of making photographs.
My advice to the photographer that sent the email and any other photographer interested in getting their spouse involved in photography follows.
Match the equipment. I mean with regard to cameras, both DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras should operate in much the same way. The models can be a few years apart, but should be the same brand and the controls should operate similarly and if two of the latest models are affordable, so much the better.
Don’t be cheap with lenses for your spouse. If it isn’t good enough for you, it isn’t good enough for the most important person in your life. Just as you would select a lens for the subject and the way you like to shoot, your spouse should select lenses for his or her preferences. I know your mother told you to share, but my recommendation is don’t share. That just leaves someone behind. If you both like long telephoto lenses, get two.
I can remember the exact moment I thought about the concept of equality. I was in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming waiting for Old Faithful geyser to erupt. While I waited I noticed a man and woman with their tripods setting up closer than me. I could see that he had a large, professional looking camera and she had a tiny, almost toy like camera. I knew that his photographs would be good and hers not so good. It didn’t matter if she was the better photographer or had the better eye, his pictures would be better, and I wondered why would she even try.
I have written about tripods many times in the past and regularly say it to photographers, “If you say you don’t like using a tripod, it is because you have never used a good one”. I can’t emphasize that enough! Purchase quality tripods for each of you and attach good ball heads on each of them.
Shop for accessories together. Each photographer has his or her preferences and should make equipment choices for the subjects they like to shoot.
Education is always a good idea. Attend a photography class or workshop. Search for them on line or check local camera shops. Take turns going to photography classes or take part in the same workshop. One of my wife’s and my most memorable vacations was when we both attended a weeklong wilderness photography workshop on Mt. Rainier. In my opinion we may have got more out of that class than the other participants because we were able to share information and experiences.
Gently critique each other’s photography. Don’t just store pictures away on the computer. Sit in front to the computer display together and decide which photographs work and which that don’t, delete all the failures, and make a combined presentation of all the successful images to show your friends and family.
One photographer in the family is cool, but two photographers, in my opinion, are much better. If you want your partner to have the same excitement about photography as you do, don’t be stingy with the compliments. And if your spouse is fortunate enough to make a better picture of that waterfall or running deer than you, be sure to tell them.