A Wise man once said
"Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking
the photo as a judgment that the photograph is good."
– Garry Winogrand
I saw these words Garry stated and immediately thought that this is too true. I find that I have done this far too often, especially in the earlier stages of my career.
Before a formal education the only way I really knew my way around a camera was with a book in hand. Then I learned the specificities that first year at photography school and could gracefully stumble through the settings to at the very least appear like I knew what I was doing. It was during this period of time I realized I still needed subjects that weren’t things. Learning the cameras ins and outs were difficult enough, now I had to factor in a person!? On top of it all I factored in the rejection, which played far too large a possibility that I generally opted for the more stable subjects, the static. Needless to say taking pictures of people was my greatest obstacle. Trees were my best models, buildings, homes, leaves and so on.
(A picture I took the first year at school. Yes, a reflection, how could I go wrong with something reflecting a reality, right?!)
When school required other less willing models I’d panic. When we had an assignment I had to work up enough courage to ask an approachable person. At this point I did not care what the person looked like or what kind of “story” I would want to describe, I just wanted a damn picture of a person. And when the subject would cooperate, I became overwhelmed at the prospect. I would have a picture … of a person!! No, this was too much for my poor armature heart to bare. A few clicks later and I had it! Of course I had it, the moment felt too good for the pictures to be anything else but the most wonderful capture!
(Another image from that first year. Of course, you knew I would chose a dog as a model ... right?)
Quickly rushing with the sense of elation towards a computer the feeling of happiness lingered. The images couldn’t import quickly enough. I would scroll through these pictures in anticipation, looking for the perfect one, the one I had taken just moments before. When I reached the end and did not come across this image I must have somehow concocted, the dejection would inevitably stroll in and wipe out any happy feelings that remained. I would feel disappointment for I had the cooperation, I had the model, I had the camera and everything with the possibility to make a decent enough image. Yet somehow in the midst of all those good feelings, I missed. I did not even hit the target! Did the feelings overcome all other emotions and steer me away from all instincts that tell me what makes a bad image? I’m not sure but I what I did not have was a good image. And here is where Winogrand’s words hit home. As a photographer I need to do more than point the camera and take a picture. I need to multi-task between handing clients, composing a picture, changing the settings and emotion is just another aspect I need to control.
I look at Garry’s images and wonder what he might have been thinking. He certainly did not let his focus wander. For all those who are just starting out, maybe this is a good point to consider. I look back and think so many bad pictures could have been avoided or maybe I needed to let them get out of my system! Either way, I definitely see things differently now, for better or worse you tell me!
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