A Black Box

A Black Box

Fast as lightning.

All photos in this post taken by Jessie Brandon. Click on an image to view full size.

© Jessie Brandon, 2011

The debate over what is the best camera, best format of camera or even what is the best lens has been going on long before digital media ever was even conceived. I really had no plan to address this issue, but then something happened last night.

 

Mom on the beach

Last night my daughter got excited, again, about taking and making creative images. Here is the back story; we decided to go for a family walk on the beach. My wife loves to pick up driftwood and bring it back to the garden. But, last night there was no driftwood in sight. So we sat on some rocks on the edge of the ocean and watched a storm moved through. I pulled out my iPhone and opened up my Hipstamatic app and started snapping shots of my wife and the storm. Jessie, my daughter, soon grabbed my iPhone from my hands and started playing with it. In fact she got obsessed with it. I joked with her and suggested she should try to take a picture of the lightening lighting up the horizon, knowing there was no chance she would catch it with an iPhone. I showed her that if you hold the shutter button down how you can have it “triggered” and ready to go off as soon as you lift up your finger. It wasn’t a minute later that a lightning bolt struck, then one struck immediately afterward. Jessie lifted her finger off the shutter and shot her picture. She tried to catch the first, obviously not knowing there would be a second. But she captured the second bolt. I was amazed!

She got so excited that she started taking pictures of everything, our feet, us walking down the beach – everything. I’m always amazed at how good of a compositional eye my daughter has. What she doesn’t have is patients, at this point in life, to fiddle with f-stops and shutter speeds. I wish she did, but she doesn’t. And so, I’ve wrestled with how to keep her interested in something she’s obviously very talented at. Sometimes, I think to be a photographer you have to have a fancy camera with buttons and dials. But I’m seeing that the true photographer is the person who has the joy and excitement of creating moving artwork even if it is with an inexpensive app and an iPhone. The phone might be the way to keep Jessie’s interest in the medium. I bought her a Canon Rebel but it stays most of the time in my dry box. I guess it is a lot of effort for a 14 year old to get the camera out, shoot, then download the images to Lightroom or even iPhoto. But the iPhone seems to have that immediate gratification that she needs. Hipstamatic helps with that, giving her creative options with different lenses and film effects.

So what’s my point? The point is, fancy gear and tons of money is not necessary to make beautiful, artistic images. For fulfilling art, it doesn’t matter the camera or the lens. A camera is nothing more than a black box with glass. What matters is your vision. Can you express it in a creative and communicative way? For me, my expensive gear gives me a creative control. For Jess, for now, maybe the iPhone and this app is all she needs. Certainly, these pictures talk. They tell a story. They are the voice of a 14-year-old. And I think they speak loudly.

 

Dad and Mom

Mom

 

Dad

 

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

6 Comments

  1. Toni

    Your daughter does have a very good eye and the iPhone is a great way to encourage her to keep shooting. The lightning shot = very cool.

    Reply
  2. Roger

    Looks like you had a great time with your family on the beach!

    To my real question: Is there any possibilities we will soon se some more images from your recent trip? And will you post a review of the trip, what worked, what didn’t work like Tewfic does? (I enjoyed the review of the Delsey btw).

     

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Roger, Not sure what Tewfic does, but I could do an AAR of what went well and what went less well. I am a little bias as an instructor and I wasn’t in charge of putting on the workshop. But I could give you an overview. I do know that two participants have said they would write a review, so we might see something more realistic a bit later.

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Some great shots here, Matt (and Jessie really). I really enjoy spending time with my 6-year old son, Jonah, walking around with our cameras, taking pictures. It’s a lot of fun to see his pictures when we get back, seeing the very different perspective he sees on the world.

    Reply
  4. Karen Nguyen

    Your daughter seems talented already. Her photos are amazing. I agree with your post. Sometimes it’s the eye of the photographer and not the camera that makes a great shot. PS. I’m not a professional photographer so I might not know what I’m talking about 🙂

    Reply

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