Photography is a Language
Most people use photography as a tool to preserve memories. But for the truly creative the photograph might become a mean to express the photographer´s thoughts and emotions. Expressing one self like that is a very fulfilling and satisfying process for the creative photographer.
Learning how to photograph could be compared to learning a new language. It´s not that difficult to say the first simple words, like "Can you show me the way to the train station?" But getting to know the language better might open the possibilities to get "under the skin" of that language and gradually becoming better and better at expressing emotions in a fluent and delightful way. Now, English is not my native language, so I speak from personal experience here. And therefore I truly understand the similarities between language and photography. The techniques of photography is like the grammar of the language. A deliberate choice of a shutter speed at 1/1000 sec with an aperture at 1.4 where the automated camera would have chosen a shutter speed of 1/60 sec with an aperture at 5.6 might just be what it takes to save a shot of a group of children playing.
At exactly the same situation another photographer might choose 1/8 sec with F16 in order to blur the background by panning the camera, following the children as they move.
Both time/aperture combinations allow exactly the same amount of light into the camera, but with entirely different results. The faster you recognize the creative possibilities of the camera, the better. Being able to use the finer means of expressions, the language will appear fluent and expressive to the receiver, giving her a far better experience.
As both cameras and lenses get better and better to the level that no one would have dreamt about just few years back, it is possible to achieve quite a lot with only a little basic knowledge. If you, on the other hand, wish to be able to express your self fluently and creatively in the language of photography, you will be able to go there only if you spend a lot of time and effort in this whole new way of art work.
Photography can, as said, be compared with speaking a language. It´s good to know about the grammar - the tech stuff - and the limits of it. But before you actually begin using it in order to say (show) someting, it´s not making much sense. The technical aspect is nothing but, and must never become more than, a necessary tool.
Stay tuned, and you´ll find more essays about the possibilities and limitations of the grammar of photogaphy later.