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Paul Harris Blog

Why you should watch Léon if you want to be a good photographer?

So, for everyone who has not watched the movie Léon. First, it is amazing. Go buy it and watch it. However, in a nut shell it is a film about a paid assassin who is at the prime of his career.

The beginning scene shows him killing a house full of people with only a knife. The amazing thing about this scene is that you never actually see him – the idea being that he is so quiet and skilled that you, the viewer, doesn’t even catch glimpse of him, just as the victims are feeling before they meet their bitter end.

The movie progresses quickly to one of my favourite scenes in the film where he has chooses to teach a young girl (Natalie Portman) how to be an assassin. Leon, the protagonist in the film, explains that all assassins start with using a sniper rifle, and only when they have mastered this weapon do they start to use a closer range weapon, leading right up to the point when all you need is a knife.

Why does this matter therefore when it comes to photography and taking a good picture? Well, the same thing should apply. Not so much that you should start at a faraway point and work in, but rather you should master the lenses you have before moving on. Everyone gets hung up on the equipment you must have to take a good picture. However, it is much more important to be able to tell a story, to get the most out of the subject you are photographing or showing a scene in a way that is not often viewed.

What I love about photography is the challenge you to have to try and carve out the image that you see with your eyes. Having the restriction of frame size should be the challenge and not a barrier. If you see a shot in the street seize the moment and carve out the image that looks incredible with the equipment you have. Master the lenses in your arsenal before moving onto the next one. If anything, having loads of equipment over complicates the entire process. It may be fun to have a nice new toy but it isn’t going to guarantee a better photograph.

Remember that a lens is far more than just a device used to capture light, depth of field or wide angles. It is all these things and more. Together these features can create emotion and tell a story. Not until you have spent a significant amount of time taking photographs with each lens will you truly understand its capabilities and its limits. By having more equipment all you will be doing is limiting the time it takes to become truly great on any individual one. learn to use the ones you have as I can almost certainly predict you are yet to achieve their full potential.

In summary then, remember that 90% of the image you capture is from the scene that is being shown infront of your eye, happening live - it is your challenge to use the tools you have available to you to freeze it within an image and in time. So if there is just one piece of advice I can give you from this blog that will help with your photography. Watch the movie Leon.

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