You might have heard the phrase “open source” tossed around. But what does it really mean? To state simply, it is a movement in which individuals wish to provide access to technology or knowledge for free to the masses. A great example of one of the most popular open source platforms in technology is Linux, which is a fully-functional operating system (created to compete with Windows) except that all of its code (as well as the entire software) is open and available to the public for free. In addition to Linux, there is OpenOffice (Microsoft Office alternative), Gimp (Photoshop alternative), as well as a plethora of other software which allows users to have access to software for free.
Piggy-backing off the idea of open source software, I am a huge proponent of “open source photography.” When I refer to photography as open source, I am talking less about the technical aspects and more of the philosophy behind it. In the realm of photography, there can be a lot of elitism amongst photographers who have the latest and most expensive cameras and lenses. This often causes many new photographers (or photographers on a budget) to be intimidated and not delve into photography worrying that their point and shoot cameras are simply not “good enough” and that they can’t get a decent photo without having a thousand dollar+ camera.
One of my visions about photography is to tear down these walls of discrimination and allow photography to be open to all, regardless of the experience, gear, or interests that somebody may have. This passion that I had inside me helped install some of the virtues to “The Photography Club at UCLA,” a photo club that me and two of my friends started. Nearly half of our club was made up of individuals who had point and shoot cameras, and they were able to take photos nearly as great as others in the club who sported DSLR cameras. As the president, I also encountered many fellow students who were interested in joining the club, but always were reluctant to join because they didn’t have a “pro camera.” However I would always encourage them to join regardless of their background with photography. The only thing I told them was required was a passion for photography.
With the boom of the digital age, photography is now much more accessible as the advance of technology has also driven down prices. When point and shoot cameras first came out with less than a megapixel sensor, they cost nearly $500. Nowadays, you could get a camera with a 12+ megapixel camera for around $100-$200 dollars. The same is with DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Refex Cameras—ie. the “pro” cameras). The first DSLR cameras that came out cost thousands of dollars, but now you can obtain a solid starter DSLR for around $500 (still not a small sum of money by any means, but much more accessible). Even for individuals on a budget, purchasing a camera is now affordable.
Getting back to the concept of open source photography, I wish to provide as many of my photographic insights to others for the pure advancement of photography as a whole. This means that I never keep any of my photographic techniques secret. I strive to share with people how I convert my images to black and white. I strive to teach people how to best utilize their cameras. I strive to spread the love of photography for anybody who has the passion for it. Furthermore, I also strive to provide a hub in which photographers from all over can feel free to share their images, their insights, and their techniques on photography as well. Hopefully my photography blog will achieve this in one way or another.
Photography allows anybody to become an artist. Not everybody is gifted with drawing, painting, or designing, but photography makes creating art as simple as clicking a button. Granted that creating a good photograph is more difficult than just clicking a button, the potential of creating a captivating image is indeed that easy. Photography allows the creation of something tangible in mere milliseconds, something that cannot be done in any other form or art. Even children with no formal training in art can pick up a camera and take snapshots of life which can move and impress adults.
I am not quite sure where this journey of mine of promoting open source photography will take me, but I know that my passion for photography is not something I can keep to myself. Help me achieve my vision and promote this idea of making photography available to all—whether it be to your friends, family, or to that nagging little cousin who always tugs at your shoulder, wanting to learn how to take photos. You’ve got nothing to lose—but everything to gain.