From the book of Revelations, Chapter 1 verse 8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega says the Lord God.”  No, I’m not going all religious on you, but sometimes it’s important to understand the genesis of a phrase or term so we can understand the full impact during discussion.  The Alpha and Omega are of course first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and together form a monogram or symbol for the names of Jesus Christ, meaning the beginning and the end.


This phrase is important because it tells us Jesus existed before creation.  Now would be a great time to segue into photography right?  Jesus is to creation, as light is to composition.  Light is the beginning and end of everything concerning photography.  Light makes the difference between a great image, or a poor image.  The quality of light, the direction of light, the intensity of light, every variable of light works together to provide the finished image.  Light is eternal.  All you need to do is study the masters to understand how much I’m understating light, even while trying to hammer it home with the biggest hammer possible.  God.





Sleeping Fishes




Our lives have a beginning, and an end.  So do most of our relationships.  This weekly begins with a feature photograph of significance, and ends with this blog we’re reading right now. Every trip to every destination has a beginning.  And an end.  Last week I talked a bit about enjoying the journey.  Or rather the importance of the journey in relation to the destination.


Can you tell how important I think really understanding this message is to photography?  It’s everything.  The beginning and the end. The Alpha and the Omega.  Allow me to digress.


How many images have you taken which you feel are perfect, which have not only achieved technical perfection, but have also accurately captured the image in your mind’s eye? 






In Flight


I can count the number I’ve taken without borrowing anyone else’s fingers or toes.  And I’ve been doing this for a long time.  The Alpha and Omega is about a lot more than a pretty picture.. it’s about the perfect timing, the perfect subject, the perfect everything.. and a pretty picture.


Do you know the best part?  You’re the one who gets to say what’s perfect.  This is about pleasing you.  Photography is about more than pleasing others, perhaps that would be the essence of commercial photography.  Someone walks in the studio and wants a portrait, tells you what they have in mind, and you produce it.  It’s not necessary you like it, it’s only necessary they like it.  And you get paid.  I’m sure there are some out there who truly love their commercial work, but you have to ask yourself “if they weren’t getting paid for it would they be shooting that person or that product?”  Usually the answer is no.


My guess is the alpha and omega is most often obtained by the hobbyist.  That would be people like you, those who are reading this column.  You’re out there taking pictures and striving to achieve better images because it makes you happy.  Because inside you feel some drive, a motivation, something inside you pushes you towards your composition.  Could life be any more perfect than this?


Next week I’m going to feature a fellow photographer who does this purely for fun, for enjoyment, and has traveled the world in pursuit of his “hobby”, yet on a technical basis is as good as most professionals I know.  I think you’ll enjoy his work.


People ask me, what’s the difference between a professional and an amateur.  Most would answer off the top of their head “the only difference is one gets paid for it, the other doesn’t.”  This is true to some extent.  But there’s much more.  Allow me to explain.


An amateur is under no obligation, no stress, to get the picture right.  A professional is.  A professional needs to have the skills to operate under any conditions and still get the picture right.  A professional should have backup gear, an assistant if necessary, and whatever is necessary to get the perfect picture for their client.  An amateur can show up for 15 sunsets and if he/she only has the skill to get a single great sunset, then all is well.  If a professional is asked to show up and capture the perfect sunset on a certain day when the clients schooner is in the background and the moon is setting right over its bow, and that’s the only day of the year this picture is possible, then a professional must have the skills to make this picture correctly.






On the Edge of Life



However, the beginning and the end.  This is everything.  And even professionals must occasionally allow themselves to chase the elusive beginning and end.  By the time you read this I’ll be on the road to Mae Hon Song chasing my alpha and omega.  I’ll be gone 7-10 days and if I’m very fortunate I’ll return with one more of my toes or fingers accounted for.  But I’m not promising anything.


Until next time..