Friday, July 12, 2013

Revisiting My Work

Recently I've been in touch with a photographer-friend who works as a photojournalist and we've had some very loooooong in-depth conversations about technique, content, and shooters we both admire. As a result I've been going through my Lightroom catalog and adding a substantial amount of organization and keywords to generate quite a few new series of images. I've been so involved with rethinking my work that this is the first chance I've had to write a blog for more than a week.

In the past I've blogged often about shooting 'street photography', and shooting from the hip. I've been rethinking these terms and their implications for my style. Neither now seems adequate to describe what I do or how I do it. I did an experiment one day this past week: when I went into NYC to shoot I promised myself I was going to pick the camera up to my eye for ever shot, no matter how fleeting the moment may have been. I was 98% successful - by that I mean my instinct for quick shooting without composing in the viewfinder took over only 2% of the time, not that 985 of my images were keepers. There's definitely an advantage to composing in the viewfinder (that's why they're there, eh?) And I'd like to pose the excuse that sometimes the moment is so fast there's no time to get the camera up, ergo shooting from the hip is justified. But .... the point of my exercise - which I'm still working on - is to have the camera so ready that I can get it to my eye quickly enough to catch those moments. I watched a video made of Garry Winogrand talking and shooting while walking in Los Angeles. I urge you to spend a few minutes with it here. His instincts and responses are very fast, and that takes practice.

Shooting with a very wide angle lens allows me to capture a whole scene unfolding, but also requires that I be in very close to the subject to be in the moment. So when I see someone of whom I want to make an image, I have to wait patiently for him to get close enough and be quick enough to grab a gesture that tells a story.

I saw this gentleman with the hat walking towards me on 59th street and as he got close he puffed out his cheeks and hoisted his pants just at the same moment the other gentleman in the white t-shirt walked in the opposite direction.

What can I say, I'm partial to hats. It's what attracted me to this person, along with is white outfit in stark contrast to his very dark skin. The dog yawning was the icing on the cake.