A new practical column about photography on the Riviera
When it comes to photographic opportunities, the Riviera is hard to beat. We have sea and mountains, town and country, narrow back streets and expansive hilltop panoramas. The light can vary from wafting summer haze to the clear stark brilliance that only the Mistral can bring. There’s the madness of the Cannes Film Festival and the vibrant action of the Monaco Grand Prix. Sleepy backcountry villages and a sophisticated Principality are all outside our windows just waiting to be captured. We are indeed lucky people.
Most professional photographers are asked the same question time and again: “Which camera should I buy?” To be honest, the answer should usually be: “It doesn’t matter.” These days, I’d qualify that by saying, “You probably own it already.” A mobile phone with a camera option will take you much further than you imagine if you make the most of it. Of course, there are situations where more sophisticated equipment will make particular jobs easier and better but don’t underestimate the considerable capabilities of the simplest equipment.
Every professional knows that a good photo is mostly due to the photographer; only owing a small part to the camera. Alain Ducasse could prepare a meal in your family kitchen and it would be a mouth-watering feast, maybe not quite up to one of his superbly-equipped restaurant kitchen dishes but delicious all the same. It’s no different with photography. The person is more important than the equipment.
Take a photograph from inside your home looking out.
Perhaps showing the view, your street or garden, your cat on the doorstep or even that rain-drenched cobweb on the window. If you live in an apartment you might want to shoot down to the street, up to the sky or across to your neighbour’s window boxes. You can shoot through a doorway or an open or closed window. You can show the frame of the door or window or not, it’s up to you.
You must use a camera phone, iPhone or a consumer camera costing less than €150. No retouching except for optional cropping or adjusting brightness and contrast. Photoshop is out.
Some of the greatest photos were and still are taken with the most basic equipment – used in the right place at the right time, pointed in the right direction by someone who has learned to recognise when it all comes together to make a great shot. There’s only one priority: to have a camera with you at that moment. Chances are that you do anyway. Just remember that mobile phone in your pocket.
Not convinced that a camera phone or basic consumer level camera can often replace professional gear? Look at the past few years of Riviera Reporter cover photos. A couple were professional stock shots, others were taken with a compact Sony Cyber-shot costing about €150 at Darty and some with my €5000 top end Nikon D700 equipped with one of the best professional lenses Nikon ever made. Can you tell which camera took which cover photo? I can’t either.
This regular column will teach you how to improve your photos of the Riviera using local examples and some essential equipment every one of us has – our eyes and a finger to push the shutter button with. In many cases, that’s all you really need. There’ll be a different assignment every issue to see if you can surprise yourself in the world of photography. This is not a contest but if we get some exceptional entries we’ll post them on our website or perhaps even in the magazine.