I was suddenly struck with religious thoughts a few nights ago, while watching the KSPS program on the Buddha. Buddhism is not my religious tradition, but it made me recall† the misguided days of my youth when, among other things, the Ten Commandments seemed reasonable. Then, for some reason, I came to wonder how ancient words on slabs could be twisted to benefit those who are taking an interest in macro photography… and I came up with the following
1. Thou shalt not give up. Macro photography is hard, but when all the elements ‘click’, it makes all the effort worthwhile.
2. Thou shalt not worship thy equipment. There are many paths to macro: the time obsessing over equipment is better spent taking photographs.
3. Thou shalt not take thy subject in vain. Appreciation and respect for your subject will improve your photography.
4. Remember to keep a Macro Day, and keep it holy. Set aside a whole day (at least once a month!) to do nothing but macro photography, without interference. Leave your cell/smart phone/iPad/partner at home and get on with it.
5. Honor your Macro Mentors, and remember that they too are still learning.
6. Thou shalt learn the ‘rules’ of composition, before you adulterate them.
7. Thou shalt not murder a new creative direction, whether yours or another’s.
8. Thou shalt steal ideas (and give credit when necessary). Throughout time, young artists and apprentices have mimicked the Masters. This is part of the learning process, and part of the skill-set that will eventually lead you to develop your own personal style and unique perspectives.
9. Thou shalt not fail to read the instruction manual and understand the intimate relationships of the Holy Trinity. (Aperture/Shutter-speed/ISO)
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s equipment, nor their website, nor their sales, nor their success. Do what you do for the love of the subject, the process and the final image – your own success will follow.
(Others may have a different list, and I would be interested in hearing about them if you decide to come up with your own advice to new macro photographers. Obviously the list could be endless, so try to restrict yourself to a set amount that captures the essence of things)
Of course, what that initial stray thought triggered by the Buddha documentary should have led too was a deeper interpretation of the Four Noble Truths (of photography) and the Eight-fold Path (to macro awareness).
I’m still working on those.
† (Yes, ADD does not half explain the wanderings of my mind…)