Thursday, November 15, 2012

School Trip

My latest read is a book entitled Art & Fear. I really enjoy the book because the writers are not journalists, social scientists, or psychologists trying to make an intellectual statement. They're artists who understand the subject from the inside out. One of the salient points they make, which really struck home with me, is that a general observer looking at a work of art can enjoy the product of the artist's efforts, but that in itself does nothing to enlighten anyone about the processes that culminated in the actual image. Understanding that process is of much greater importance than the pleasure of viewing the final product. 

When I studied and learned from each of the three mentors I've had in my life - Bill Monroe, Professor Raphael Bronstein, Mario Cabrera - I certainly appreciated the quality of what they created. But, not being them, I could never produce exactly that, so why bother. What was of importance to me, and what each in his own way showed me, was how they went about producing the end result. Talking about what in an image makes it work or not work may be interesting, but it does nothing to help me grow my own processes and subsequently create my own voice and output. 

Out for a walk in Manhattan yesterday, I wandered around Lincoln Center. For me street photography is nothing if there's no actors in the scene. I need people - so I have to go where there's traffic. A group of students on a school trip to the theater were milling around outside the Vivian Beaumont theater before the show, just doing their teenage thing. They were so rapt in their own very important worlds and stories that none of them took any notice of me snapping away.The buzz of energy was contagious. And then, in an instant one couple mugged this shot for me, I clicked, and a second later I no longer existed for them. I went on to shoot about fifty more images that afternoon and didn't give this one a moment's thought. But it turned out to be the best shot of the day. I had to be there and be ready for the moment when it happened. If I hadn't taken twenty shots before that moment, I don't think I would have been able to grab this one.