Hey everyone! RC here doing a quick blog post on this Friday to see if I can convince some of you to do something I just recently did. Go Fishing with your camera!
I was inspired to do this after watching “Another Day With Jay Maisel” over on the Kelby Training website. I’ve been an admirer of Jay’s work for a while, and as a friend I try to visit with him when he’s available in New York City. Every time that I do, I’m always nervous as to whether he’ll ask if I have been carrying my camera around everywhere I went.
I’ve always seen my relationship with Photography as a “I will decide to do it at key points” – and to that i’ve always been quick to leave my camera at home. Because of that, I am always the guy who runs into a scenario when I see a great shot, i’m never able to get it. To counter that – i’ve made myself a little bit more disciplined in carrying a camera. While it’s not all the time, it’s certainly a lot more than it used to be.
I was traveling into New York City to give an interview over at School of Visual Arts with Katrin Eismann. I figured, while I was there, I would take advantage of the time and try to make some images. After watching Jay’s event – I became tempted to do one thing:
Take my camera – nothing else – and wait for a moment to come to me. While i’ve heard this concept before – Find your stage – the actors will come to it – I’ve never really been confident enough to actually give it a shot.
I took to the streets of Manhattan, and just walked around until I found a place that I thought was interesting – a colored wall. Standing across the street, I aimed my lens to this newly found stage. Rather than run around and try to find the killer image that I would put into X – I took a deep breath and said to myself “Lets wait here to see what kind of moments come to me.” I also gave myself a limit. I wouldnt go out to find a great place in the city. I could only choose the location of the scene between where i had lunch, and Penn Station – where I was boarding the train back to Long Island.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I cant stand being in hot weather. Anxious as I was – I noticed that the feeling of frustration that I had was replaced by anticipation. Excitement. It almost felt like a fisherman – setting up a spot and casting into the water, and wondering what kind of story you will be able to tell your friends at the close of the day. Some of the shots that I got from the day are in the collage that I have above.
Watching The Stage
I noticed that as I started working on getting these shots, I became more focused on the types of color relationships that were coming down the street. Blues on Greens, Reds and whites on Blues.. things like that. I also started looking at things like negative space – and how biased I was for one direction versus another. I changed its usage and saw images that I thought were cool become that much better for me. I started looking at how people could affect these relationships, and I nervously sat around waiting for magic moments to occur.
For example – I had my camera trained to the picture of the windows of this post for a long time. That picture on it’s own doesnt really do a great deal. However, I stayed fixed to that spot for two reasons:
If a person wouldve shown up in this general area, I would have been incredibly happy.
If a person wouldve shown up in THIS spot and looked down to that center window I would’ve been overjoyed!
Unfortunately for me – neither of those things happened. As much as I wanted to make these moments happen – luck just wasn’t on my side. There were no fish to catch today.
Packing it Up
I got to Penn Station with a mixture of disappointment and intrigue. I sooo hoped to have that Henri Cartier-Bresson moment of the man jumping the puddle but all I got back was a bunch of OK pictures, and a lot of sweat.
Then I sat and thought it a bit more:
I sat at these places and wondered about color and the relationship between the subject and enviroment. I played around with space, lines and composition in a quick paced enviroment. I exercised my technique by moving focus points around, and tried to relearn hitting my automatic “Center Focus” button.
I spent time looking at scenes and wondering what kinds of things would make them more interesting. In effect – I was pre-visualizing my scenarios and making calculations on this. It was as if I had gone to the photographic gym and went through a workout on my technique. Yes – for me I looked like a chubby guy doing a half a pushup – but it was MY half a pushup. I went out with a goal to try something, and in the process was inspired to get a bunch of other lessons.
I was also reminded of one thing we often forget as photographers. Try as we may – luck is still a portion of being in the image. The more practice we have, the luckier we can get, this is true. But sometimes luck just doesn’t hit.
Or maybe not in the way you originally intended it. Happy Friday everyone!