Peter And His Seven Pillars of Photographic Wisdom


3/9/20243 min read

In the autumn of life, the mind often meanders through the hallways of the past, each memory a framed picture, delicately hung on the walls of time. Such is the tale of my journey, a tapestry woven through six decades where I've danced with shadows and light, silently crafting stories. This narrative could well belong to any maestro of the moment, any savant of the shutter, whose path unravels a masterclass in the profound art of photography. Yet, it is, with simplicity and humility, also distinctly my own personal tale and the philosophy I've cultivated.

My story begins in the vibrant 1960s, a time of change and new horizons. As a young boy, camera in hand, I stepped into the world, my eyes wide with wonder. The camera became an extension of my being, my voice, guiding me through the shifting tides around me. It wasn't just a tool but a profound teacher, unveiling the fundamentals of photography, those seven pillars of wisdom that would come to define my craft.

  1. Shutter Speed – The Symphony of Moments

Shutter speed was my first lesson, the heart's beat of the camera. I learned to play with this element, mastering the ability to freeze a fleeting smile or to stretch a moment into eternity. This dance with time taught me about life's ephemeral nature and the importance of seizing the moment, echoing the delicate balance between light and time.

  1. Aperture – The Eye's Poetry

Aperture followed, the camera's iris, shaping light and depth. Through trial and error, I discovered the poetry of focus, learning to highlight the profound and blur the insignificant. Each photograph became a decision, a reflection of what to reveal and what to conceal, much like the choices we make in life.

  1. ASA/ISO – The Whisper of Light

Then there was ASA, now known as ISO, the sensitivity to light. This element was akin to a dance with the elements, a harmony between available light and the film's grain. Adjusting the ISO taught me about the nuances of light and shadow, and how slight adjustments can transform a scene from darkness to illumination.

  1. Focus – The Clarity of Purpose

Focus taught me about the importance of clarity, not just in an image, but in thought and intention. This pillar reminded me that in photography, as in life, what we choose to focus on defines our narrative and shapes our reality.

  1. Depth of Field – The Canvas of Life

Depth of field became my canvas, where elements played their roles in the foreground and background. This lesson in perspective taught me how the eye travels through a scene, led by subtleties of focus and light, mirroring the complexity of life's stages.

  1. Composition – The Visual Symphony

Composition, the art of balance within a frame, unfolded before me like a visual symphony. This pillar taught me about the harmony and rhythm in arranging elements to tell a story, echoing the balance sought in our own lives.

  1. Timing (The Decisive Moment) – The Soul's Capture

The concept of the decisive moment – capturing the essence of a fleeting scene – became the soul of my photography. This pillar, above all, taught me about being present and attuned to life's unfolding, embracing the spontaneity and serendipity that defines our existence.

Silent Guardians: A Monochrome Glimpse into Timeless Tranquility

Through the decades, as technology evolved from rolls of film to the digital age, these fundamentals remained steadfast. They became the pillars upon which my temple of photography was built. I became not just a witness to history but its scribe, etching moments into eternity with the click of a shutter.

Echoes of Joy: A Moment of Unbridled Laughter

My journey is a testament to the power of returning to the basics, mastering the building blocks that form the foundation of photography and life. To the aspiring photographer, I offer this wisdom: Know your tools, understand the principles, but above all, listen to the beat of your own heart, for it is there that the true essence of a photograph, and indeed life, lies.

This is my story, a tale woven from light and shadow, a narrative etched in time. It's a reminder that, in the end, photography, like life, is about capturing the essence of a moment, about telling a story that, once captured, remains forever whispered in the silent language of an image.

© Peter Pickering 2024.