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The Yin and Yang of Photography: The Artist and the Geek



One of the things I love about photography is it appeals to both the geek and the artist in all of us. On the geek side you have the technical considerations of making an image; the f-stops, shutter speeds, depth of field, histograms, dynamic range, all the stuff we must all master in order to communicate our vision.

Of course we can’t forget about all the ‘geeky’ gear, super telephotos, focusing rails, tele-converters, extension tubes, fill flash, and such. On the artistry side things are a little tougher to define, shape, color, composition, mood, balance, and that fickle mistress light, to mention just a few.

To make a great photograph we have to find the balance between the geek and the artist. If we lean too much toward the geek, our pictures, while technically perfect, can lack emotion. They may not reach out and touch the viewer. They can be missing a mood or feeling.

Conversely, too much focus on the artistry at the expense of the technical may often leave the work riddled with technical flaws distracting the viewer from the message. Most photographers tend to lean in one direction or the other, some are master technicians crossing every T and dotting every I in their images. While others have a flair for the artistic not having the time or desire to bother with all of that technical stuff.

A truly great photographer finds the balance and has a mastery of both of these two seemingly opposing disciplines.


At its very best, photography communicates something with the viewer. The message can be anything… like an idea, a concept, a mood, or a feeling, even something as simple as, “Look how pretty this is”. But the goal is to reach out and touch our audience in some way.

The most effective way to communicate with the viewer is without technical flaws that could distract from the message. The most powerful way to reach someone is by touching their soul with your artistry.

About the author: Steve Gettle is a nature photographer based in Brighton, Michigan. Over the course of his 30-year career, Steve Gettle has spent countless hours creating hundreds of thousands of photographs capturing nature’s beauty around us. Steve’s images communicate his love for the wildlife and the wild places of our world. You can connect with him and find more of his work on his website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Image credits: Header illustration based on photo by Reilly Butler