From Snapshot to Photograph

Violin-and-Piano-4a, by John Livoti

Ken Duquaine

Before the advent of the smartphone, taking photos was a very intentional activity. One checked out her camera thoroughly, making sure that batteries were fresh and that there was film or a memory card in the camera, and set out to make images. Today, however, nearly everyone carries a camera wherever they go, and those smartphone technological wonders become better with each new model. And while posting photos on social media sites and sharing them with friends and relatives is perfectly satisfying for the majority of such casual photographers, inevitably, some of those folks will develop the desire to take their photographic efforts to the next level.

So where does one go to begin the process of understanding and applying the basics of real photography? One of the choices is certainly to join a photography club, and we’ll talk about the advantages of that choice next month. Another possibility is to begin accessing printed and digital sources that can be helpful in making that transition from casual snapshot to photograph. Any list of such sources is bound to be totally subjective, and what follows are a few recommendations borne of my own personal experience and that of other photographers who have also successfully used those sources.

One of the first names that comes to mind whose books are both readily accessible and inexpensive is that of Bryan Peterson. When after almost a lifetime of taking snapshots I finally became interested in learning more about photography, Peterson’s books were my go-to source. While he has a number of excellent instructional books, the one from which I gained the most insight was Understanding Exposure. His explanation of what photographers call the exposure triangle is both complete and very understandable, and provides a firm foundation for further progress. Another of his books that deals with design, color, and composition is Learning to See Creatively. Once again, as is the case with all of his books, the subject matter is clear, concise, very accessible to the average reader, and readily available from Amazon and other sources.

Another vast source of photography information and instructional videos in digital form is YouTube. The sheer volume of information on YouTube is seemingly endless, but it does take a lot of hunting and separating the gems from the junk. And while there is an overabundance of online photography courses available, I personally believe that books such as those mentioned previously are a more logical starting point.

The Sun Lakes Camera Club (SLCC) meets the first and third Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Navajo Room of the Sun Lakes Country Club, from October through April. During the summer, the club meets on the first Thursday of each month in the Ceramics Room of the Cottonwood Country Club. For more information about the SLCC and its activities, call SLCC President Lynn Thompson at 480-734-0040, Vice President Judy Daidone at 480-216-3062, or Past President Jan Ballard at 602-621-3344, and visit our website at