Photography Blog

"Photography is simple; Compose, Think, and Shoot! It is all in your mind, not your camera!" John Kain

Photography State of Mind

Cactus Blooms

I call myself a photographer but in fact I am an artist. In lieu of painting with oils, acrylics, or water color, I paint with light. After all, what is photography without light. It is not about the equipment, it is about how your eye perceives the light falling on a subject and capturing it in your equipment. It is about the mind and eye behind the equipment.

Cameras sales topped $35 billion in 2010 and are expected to reach $65 billion by 2015. That means there are a lot of photographers out there. True, most are just amateurs learning and will become the photographers of the future.  However, in today’s market for those trying to sell their work or even get work as a photographer, the competition is fierce.

Back in the film days you had to know your equipment, you can see the light falling on your subject, and you captured it on film. (is this beginning to sound like a “I walked seven miles one-way every day to school, barefoot, uphill and in the snow” story) If you did not do it right, you got mush and wasted a bunch of money! With today’s cameras you just keep shooting till you get one you like and you toss the rest.

I am often asked by friends, “I want to get a good camera and take pictures, what should I buy?” I always ask three questions; first, “What kind of pictures do you want to take?” Next, “How much money do you want to spend?” Can anyone guess the third question? It is of course, “What kind of experience do you have?” Most folks want to just take pictures of their kids or the trip to the beach next summer. Once in a blue moon I find a person really interested in photography!

What does it take to be a good photographer, I don’t know! I will tell you this, a good photographer can see a shot before he or she even presses the button. In their mind’s eye they can see the composition, the perspective, the color, and how the light strikes it to make the shot pop (and dare I mention, a whole lot of luck). They set their equipment up, and from their experience can make all the camera settings, press the button and walk away! Most point and shoot cameras make all the settings for you, but they cannot compose the shot. Only you can do that by using your eyes and mind.

Am I there yet, God no! I’m still learning!! Think of photography like fire safety; Stop, Drop, and Roll! Photography is simple; Compose, Think, and Shoot! It is all in your mind, not your camera!

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About The Author

John KainJohn Kain is a retired Architectural Engineer with a passion for photography. As an avid gardener, he loves to photograph the flowers in his yard or any place he can find them. His roots in architecture have taken him into real-estate photography for a friend.

As a silversmith, he also designs and creates jewelry using natural stones like turquoise and agates mounted in sterling silver.


  1. Vickey RobinsonVickey Robinson11-05-2012

    Great article John, I enjoyed reading it very much.

  2. Becky Patlan-GarciaBecky Patlan-Garcia11-05-2012

    I really do love digital. It does allow me to take as many shots as I need to get what I want. I’m an amateur but would like to expand. Before digital I couldn’t really afford to take a lot of chances on what I “thought” would work. I would take forever to set up a shot and if it worked, great, if not, well that was money down the drain.
    There are several times when my eye would pick out something that I thought would be a great shot. I take the shot and “darn” a cloud moved over the sun at a critical time or a person walked into your shot. With digital it is much easier to “fix” these problems.

    I enjoyed your article very much. Thank you.

  3. CricketCricket11-05-2012

    It took me forever to figure out why I couldn’t get decent shots if I wasn’t really into what I was shooting. It was then that I learned that photography really is a state of mind. GREAT ARTICLE!

  4. HaleyHaley11-05-2012

    Wonderful article! Very true in every way. Thanks for sharing with us!

  5. JeremeJereme11-05-2012

    Good article John! I appreciated the “fire safety” analogy. I struggle with composition and always admire the “real photographers” who seem to nail it in almost all their photos. Thanks for sharing your experience and advice!

    • CricketCricket11-05-2012

      Keep in mind we only see the pictures that others choose to share with us. I bet others delete just as many photos as we all do! 🙂

  6. GaryGary11-05-2012

    Excellent Article John and so very true!

  7. Chuck SummersChuck Summers11-05-2012

    You hit the nail on the head with the artist analogy John. Anyone can can push a shutter button but seeing the finished shot with the minds eye first as you said is key. Awesome article John, agree 100%.

  8. Joyce CampJoyce Camp11-05-2012

    I really enjoyed your article John!
    Thank you so much for taking the time so share this with us! I am a total hobby photographer and love it! Sometimes I amaze myself with a shot! I love playing and editing them also to see what I come up with!
    Again Thank You!

  9. Carol TomanyCarol Tomany11-05-2012

    I love your work and I agree. Sometimes photography is what makes you get up in the morning. It definitely gets me outside and on 3-5 mile walks. I could walk all day for the right picture!! great post!!

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