Guest Blog Friday with RC: Fishing for Pictures

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:

The Challenge

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!

  1. Great post, RC. I remember that part of the 2nd Jay Maisel video where he and Scott decided to just wait for things to develop around them. Good to see another person talk about putting it into practice. Something to try over the weekend!



    P.S. So where’s Scott?

  2. RC, great inspirational post. Reminds me that I need to have my camera with me more often and spend more time just taking photos where I am at instead of waiting for those special moments to happen.

  3. Hey RC, very nice Post, for me it’s allways “will I have time to take some Pictures today?” But I beleave we shuold take more time to relax inbetween and take some pictures and observe what have learned even if they the photos did’t turnout as good as we where expecting.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Still think you got something. If not a big fish, small fish are also food! :-)

    Maybe, if you have cropped the first pictures (the collage), you should have cropped them so the line between the pavement and the wall, makes a straight line between the pictures. That makes the collage look more coherent.

  5. Very good. None of us is at the Jay Maisel level, most of us find street photography in NYC daunting and frightening, and we also are at the half pushup stage. It’s great to hear from RC, in that smooth and kind voice one can hear even in his writing, how he began to work through it. I would like this to be a series, to see how he gets better. Could be very instructive. By analogy, I might learn more about how to play the guitar by watching another beginner learn rather than watching Eric Clapton play.
    PS: Love the HDR book.

  6. I just got a 28-300 lens this week and plan to try the same thing on weekends, in Charlotte. I saw the first day with Jay and the webcast of the second day when Scott and Jay previewed it. I’ve done a little street shooting but my interest has always been landscape, animals, racing, a few people and family. I’m hoping I’ll see buildings and great people shots. But I remember that Jay said some days he doesn’t take any photos and comes home empty.

    I think if we don’t try we never get anything.

  7. Thanks, R.C., wonderful job. I really enjoy the way you tell a story and it turns into a thought-provoking lesson. On the high summit of Kelby Mountain, you are the philosopher of the Photoshop Guys. Oh, and your new book totally rocks! Thanks again.

  8. Great blog RC! I DO carry my camera a lot. Almost everywhere. Remembering to take it out of the bag is another issue. I too try to remember Jay’s words and keep it out and on – it’s only a battery! I have yet to try the “just wait for it” exercise, but after watching Jay’s video (multiple times) and now reading your blog, I’m even more pumped to do this. Thanks!
    (Uh, man, you hate the heat and live in Florida? Wow. C’mon up to Red Deer, Alberta – you’ll almost never have to worry about being too hot!!)

  9. So RC, when the person didn’t show up in the window, did you console yourself by walking down the block to Adorama and cool off in their nicely air-conditioned store? ;-)

  10. Excellent inspiring blog! Our camera club is continuously attempting to come up with new theme shoots to push ourselves outside of the realm of comfort. Your blog will serve as a perfect descriptor for a future shoot wherein we stake out and claim a space allowing our subjects to pass by our respective viewfinders. The collage concept you undertook, with slight variation, will be our goal.
    Thanks RC.
    PS You did not mention whether you brought the thighmaster with you!

  11. RC, your blog touches on an important idea that many photographers have come to realize. The over-the-top moments for a sensational and exciting shot rarely materialize. The true challenge is to capture the mundane, everyday places and events and transform them into something memorable. As a digital painter using PS, I came upon this idea after viewing American artist Edward Hopper’s paintings and how he took the tepid moments of life and elevated it to something that made an impact. Take a look at some of his paintings and this becomes evident. Who needs exciting when you have bland all around you?

  12. I was in the proverbial photographic rut when I watched the video on Monday. It so inspired me, that I took my camera out of the bag and it now will be slung over my shoulder most of the time I get out of my car. Even bought the 28-300 lens to go with it, even though I have a bunch of pro glass. I had been using my IPhone but there are so many shots that would have been nice to have the “big gun” with me.

  13. Hey RC, Thanks for sharing your experience and your thoughts in following Jay’s advice and recommendations. I hardly carry my camera with me but after watching Jay (in the first video) I decided to take it with me on my way to work. It’s part of the walk that Jay and Scott took on that 1st video. I took a shoot of the lobby with the beautiful colors over on 5th and 42nd; would have never noticed it if it wasn’t for Jay. I also took a couple of reflection shot and building (windows) shots. Jay was right when he stated something like how amazing the windows look even though they are the same size, the pattern in the shot looks awesome. In any case, just thougth I’d share that with you. Thanks to you, Jay, Scott and the Photoshop Guys, for all that you do. BTW, as you may already know, if you want to see people outside of their window, you should head uptown or to brooklyn…I hardly see anyone looking out the window in midtown. Take care…

  14. Love it!! Of course the hardest part for me is still getting out of the house and actually going someplace with the camera. I have a million ideas and images to make floating in my head, but I have exactly a million and one excuses as to why I can’t make those shots right now. Thanks for the motivator!
    PS: My fav is the old man in the hat.

  15. A nice blog post, RC and a nice set of images too. Is there a reason why the faces of the people in your shots appeared to be blurred out?

    Your next challenge for street photography is to stop some complete strangers and make a set of portraits allowing yourself only one frame on each. That’s what I’ve been doing, on film. It’s a fantastic way to spend your lunch break and you don’t waste time chimping either :-P

    Check out my blog for examples:


  16. Great post RC.

    Inspired by Jay’s videos and the fact of being on vacation with a dSLR for the first time in 25 years I tried a city photowalk/fishing “city characters” kind of thing … nothing looked interesting enough to be “worth a shot”.

    Architecture is being extensively photographed, but people, not there yet.

    It seems “so easy” when you see Jay doing it, but my “eye” is not ready yet. It’s like when I get my guitar and remember Paco de Lucia playing … seems to be so easy, but doesn’t sound like him.

    I’ll keep trying :-))

  17. I like the idea of “fishing for photos”. It is important to always have your camera with you. There’s always something out there to catch. Even if you throw it back because you think it is too small, you’ve done your daily workout and had some fun, right?

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