After a break the other day to celebrate my wedding anniversary with my beautiful wife, I’m back to posting more shots from the summer in the Twin Cities. Hope the loyal readers didn’t mind the brief sidestep, but what must be done must be done.
Back to the business at hand…
I have mentioned before about how much I enjoy shooting through windows. I’m not entirely sure why all the time, but I know that it does seem to give some depth to images, with reflections. Of course, it can be overused and get cliche (like any photographic tool/style) but I like it. The technique was quite frequent in my shots from my last trip to England (December 2011-January 2012), and I spoke about it then at greater length in some of those old posts. I honestly don’t have the energy to dig those up and link to them right now, but let’s be honest–you wouldn’t read them anyway 😉
Back to the point I touched on in the last paragraph: I’m not always sure why I photograph what I do. As you may or may not know, I have no formal training as a photographer. It’s a hobby (which has made me a little money here and there) that I have invested a sizable amount of time and energy into over the years. I carry my camera basically everywhere, and when I see something, I shoot it. It’s that simple.
As a result, I have struggled at times when I am forced to think of poses or to manufacture a shot somehow. My style is more organic, I think. Perhaps that makes me less of a photographer, but I’m not sure. Really amazing portrait photographers have a gift to get to know their subject, and to create a scene that reflects the person they are putting on film. I really respect that–it’s not easy.
I tend to think of my style as more documentary, and one of the reasons I have really fallen for street photography. It suits not only that sense of image-making that I have, but also speaks to my personality which tends to be more quiet, reserved, and in the background (that wasn’t always the case–when I was younger I was quite outgoing and the “life of the party”, as it were, and I’m almost the polar opposite of that today; I’m not sure why). With candid/street photography, I can do my own thing, and not interact with my subjects. I can melt into the background, watching and observing, and recording moments of life that happen around me. This is where I find my peace.
Shooting in the streets is a great feeling. Walking around, and being able to focus on nothing but those around me and what they are doing…I love it. Most people are so busy with themselves and their day, and what they are doing, that they don’t stop to look around and notice anything else. I was, and am still at times, the same way–we all are. Life is busy and there is always a myriad things to be doing or thinking about. When I have my camera and allow myself the time to think of nothing else, there is some clarity for me. As I’ve said before, I don’t do photography because I see the world around me, I see the world around me because of photography.
I don’t always know why I make photographs of the things that I do. They don’t always come off, either. For whatever reason, I feel possessed to capture a certain thing at a certain moment. That’s just me.
The great photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson, for example, was more interested in painting than photography. He referred to his camera as his “mechanical paintbrush”. He consistently stressed his disinterest with photography throughout the years, and one of my favorite quotes of his speaks to this. “Photography is nothing,” he said. “It is life that interests me.”
As one of the founding fathers of street photography, and photojournalism as a profession, this is quite the sentiment. In the early 1970’s, when he was in his early 60’s, he gave up photography and would never return to it again for the final 30+ years of his life. Truly, he wasn’t into photography for the sake of photography. Additionally, as the antidote to many modern photographers’ obsession with photographic gear, he famously used one camera and one lens for virtually all of his career.
Those are both things that modern photographers could aspire to more often, myself included. I’ll keep trying for sure.
If you like my work, check out my website for more of it! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below on today’s post, or other musings you might have.