Looking at photography is one of my favorite pass-times. It’s awesome how the great photographers can make me actually feel the moment of capture. I enjoy the greatness of their talent. What a trap.
As if photography wasn’t full time enough, lately I’ve been charging head down in an ancillary effort to learn what drives people to create. Research, writing, listening and conducting interviews across all disciplines while dissecting my own work.
Most photographers I know can recall nearly every click of the shutter, and those book-worthy gems capture more than just a replica of the moment. We own the image more than the others. There was nothing tentative about the instant we pressed the shutter. There it is – Got it.
My latest talk was with one of the most gifted guitarists I know; a long time professional of both studio and live performances. Recounting the time when he first entered the studio after touring live, he shared a moment of struggle to get something respectable on tape. What probably seemed harsh at the time was sage in its simplicity:
“It all starts from your fingers, I’m just trying to get on tape what you’re sending me” – was the curt response from the engineer.
Since I’m not a musician what I heard was, “It all starts at your eyes”. It doesn’t start at your camera. It doesn’t start with the file download or the choice of a good post artist. I’m a photographer, it starts at my eyes.
It took a musician to remind a photographer that ignoring a seemingly trite perspective can make one tentative. There’s no truth in your work unless you not only understand that it starts from your eyes, but own it like a born again evangelist.
You can view Part II of Will’s interview here.
The trick to looking at photographs is to surround yourself with the art – the emotion. The moment questions start, abandon the effort. Comparisons keep me from starting the photograph from my eyes. Comparisons turn me tentative. Could I do that? No. It’s a trap, there’s no truth found by going there.