For years people revered the superheroes of comic books—Batman, Spiderman, Superman and the like. Their abilities were that of legend, and inspired movies and multi-million dollar product franchises. But little did the people of the world know that there are real live superheroes walking amongst them. They’re more commonly known as photographers.
Photographers have superpowers. Their superpowers might not be quite as flashy as flying through the sky, or leaping tall buildings in a single bound. But photographers across the world are using their powers to create awesome photos, each and every day.
So, if you’re a photographer, take a peek and see which of these superpowers you already possess, and which ones you’re working on developing. See, that’s our biggest advantage over the superheroes—we don’t have to wait to be bitten by a radioactive spider to get our powers!
Like Superman, you have super vision. You can spot a great shoot location from far away. You notice tiny little details that ordinary folks can’t—like the uncommonly beautiful flower beside the road, or the subject’s hand that needs to be ever-so-slightly turned to be just right.
This is perhaps the most common of photography superpowers, and the one that must constantly be developed. Our ability to see things that no one else can is what makes photographers powerful. When your images show the world something they would have never seen, they are important.
For those photographing events and people, super speed is one of their greatest powers. You have the ability to read a scene in an instant, and know how to compose your shot to capture that fleeting “decisive moment“. You’re like the Flash, with a camera.
Your super speed is not just about being able to set all your camera functions in time to properly expose the shot. You can also think quickly, move quickly, and react quickly. Often photographers get one chance to get “the shot”, and even a second of hesitation results in failure.
Using your super speed becomes an instinct. You’ve practiced with it so much that you hardly even think anymore. You just feel the shot, and take it quickly and decisively.
You’re a lot like Invisible Woman when it comes to photography. You have the ability to blend in to your surroundings to the point where you become invisible.
For photojournalism, this superpower is extremely valuable. You’re looking to capture the reality of a situation, and want to be able to let the event carry on as though you weren’t there. Quiet and keen observation powers, and an uncanny ability to be in the right place at just the right time are what make you practically invisible.
Like Professor X, you have the ability to sense the thoughts and feelings of your subjects, helping you to understand more about them. With portrait photography, this superpower is indispensable.
When photographing people, the greatest challenge comes not from the technical aspects of the camera, but from the complex task of relating to the person in front of you. Human beings are much more complicated than a camera, and getting them to open up while being photographed is a true superpower.
This power lets you approach each and every subject in a unique way, as no two people will react to the experience of photography in the same manner. Being able to perceive their responses to your suggestions, sense when they are uncomfortable, and find a way to get them to trust you enough to let down their guard all result in a truer, and more compelling portrait.
Batman, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Mister Fantastic, Spiderman…there are many superheroes who benefit from super intelligence. As a photographer, this super power is perhaps one of the most essential of all.
Photographers need to be able to learn a lot different skills, from camera controls, multiple software programs for editing, printing, light, composition, history, art theory, and more. The more you are able to learn, the stronger you become as a photographer.
Just like Batman, you may not have any superhuman powers, but with super intelligence you can become a real superhero.
Super Business Skills
Superheroes and photographers need to make money too. There are those, like Spiderman, who don’t have much business sense, and end up struggling for money. This takes a lot of energy and time away from developing your main superpowers.
But, if you can be like Tony Stark (aka. Iron Man) and create a strong business for yourself, you’ll have the time and resources to really work on your photography.
Photographers will often find themselves in a variety of situations that require adaptability. From dealing with different light conditions, to shooting different types of photography, and even just interacting with different people—becoming a shapeshifter, like Mystique from X-Men, is a supremely useful superpower.
When you have the shapeshifting superpower you know when to use different types of gear based on the unique situation. You know when the be serious and when to joke with your clients. You know when to go with the flow, and when to create a detailed plan for the shoot.
Like Wolverine, photographers can have super healing powers. Your work is constantly being critiqued—by yourself, your clients, other photographers, and sometimes even just the general population. Those critiques can hurt, especially when you’re just getting started and haven’t built up your thick skin.
Photographers will also face a lot of rejection during their career. Being able to heal yourself after these wounds is critical. Unless you can recover, you won’t be able to keep working confidently.
When things are tough, and you’re feeling uncertain about your work, your business isn’t going the way you’d like, or you just got back from a shoot that really was difficult, being able to keep a positive attitude is a superpower in itself. Like Spidey, who always had a funny quip in the face of mortal danger, you can maintain a glass-half-full outlook, even when things are gloomy.
Photography is not an easy pursuit. Everyone experiences challenges. The photographers that succeed are the ones that are able to focus on the positives to keep themselves going.
Perhaps one of the most valuable superpowers is super determination. Let’s think about Batman. He didn’t have any superhuman abilities, he was just extremely determined to rid Gotham city of crime. He studied and trained and eventually became a truly awesome&
Becoming a super photographer is a very long process. There are no shortcuts, no matter what anyone tells you. The key is determination—to learn, to practice, to keep going when it becomes more difficult than ever, and to simply pick up the camera when you would rather do anything else.
Here’s the rub. The hardest part of photography comes in the middle, not in the beginning. Sure, it takes a lot of work to learn all the technical parts of the craft. It’s a whole new way of thinking, and a lot of determination is required to wrap your mind around it, and then practice until it becomes second nature.
But then the real challenge pops up. With this new skill you have, what is it that you actually want to say? What do you really care about? Why are you shooting in the first place? What do you want to tell your viewer? Answering this question becomes a lifelong adventure, and one that will always be changing.
It takes super determination to stick with photography long enough to work those questions out, and start to create photos that are really worthy of being called super.
Just as every photographer has their own powers, they all have their own kryptonite. It’s the thing that drains the creative energy right out of you. Maybe it’s a difficult and unresponsive subject. Maybe it’s the physical location where you are. Maybe it’s the type of work that you’re doing.
Whatever it is, try to identify your kryptonite. Think about the last time you felt no energy to shoot, and see if you can pinpoint the cause. Once you know what your kryptonite is, you can start to find ways to shield yourself from it’s damaging effects, whether by learning a new way to interact, going somewhere different to get a fresh perspective, or shooting something you’ve never shot before.
What’s Your Power?
These are all superpowers that every photographer can benefit from. You might have one, or maybe you have a few more. But the key here is that you can have any and all of them with study and practice. The more superpowers you can add to your utility belt, the more of a super photographer you’ll become!
Now tell us what your photography superpowers are!