Satchmo Fest. Second Line. Street Portrait

Little second liner...
Little second liner…

This picture came near the end. Of the parade.

I don’t know if she was hot. Or, if she was tired of walking in a crowd. Or, or, or… She may have just gotten tired of looking at everybody’s legs without actually seeing much of anything else. But, she doesn’t look particularly happy.


You know me. I like using events as a way of making pictures that are about something more. Or, about something else. Or, something like that.

I see this as a kind of environmental portrait. It’s not in any way formal. It’s not even planned. I just saw her and pushed the button. It’s a hand – eye thing. Coordination. A kind of athletic reaction. It’s probably why I have sort of a “pre-game” routine when I attend events like this one. It centers me. I gets me into the zone. It clears my mind so that my eyes can see. It’s probably not what you’re thinking. It’s just a lot of normal little things that I do in that same order. Every time. It’s not even intentional. I just do them.

I even do them when I’m traveling and am going to take pictures most of the day. That’s a little hard for me. I work pretty intensely. When I’m done, I’m done. Usually, that level of energy lasts about three hours. I can’t just call it back when I feel like it. I know a psych doc who calls it “psychic energy.”

Nooooo… it’s not that. It’s not anything weird, metaphysical or mystical.

It’s a combination of putting everything that you are, or ever have been into whatever it is you are doing. It’s mental. It’s physical. It’s emotional. It’s spiritual. It’s raw personal energy. Using it is also very, very draining. When you work this way and are done, you are tired.

Sometimes, a nap helps to recover. Especially if I have to keep going while I’m traveling. But, the work feels different. It’s not as intense. I don’t see as clearly and I tend to miss stuff. Or, I just get lazy. I stop photographing the subject before I feel like I’ve got the picture.

That’s me. What about you?



  1. It is different when traveling, I think. I find that tend to get a little lazy or even frustrated. I find that sometimes when I am on a trip it seems like I find it difficult to get the shot that I think that I want. I’m not sure how to explain, but yeah…taking a step back and putting the camera down for a minute helps me. That could actually be a sign that I spend too much time with it, though.


    1. Hi.I think everybody is different in how we approach these things. When I step away from making pictures, I have no choice. I’m completely blown out. If I keep going at that point I start making pictures that don’t count for much. On Sunday, when I made this picture, I actually was wondering just exactly how I walked back to the car. Of course that may have had more to do with walking in the extreme heat and humidity. And, for me, if I’m working for myself I rarely shoot in the middle of the day unless I’m shooting some kind of scheduled event. That gives me recovery time.

      Travel shooting is a whole other issue. You never really know where you are, even when you do. You don’t know where the good light is going to come from. You don’t know when something will occur. Think about it. 15 minutes and another road and you likely would have not saw or photographed the wildlife that you were after. You can sort of pre-fabricate and research some stuff, but knowing your way around really helps as much as anything. That doesn’t means I think you should stay in one place all the time, but there is a reason that a National Geographic contract is usually at least 16 weeks long. 🙂


  2. A powerful photo and fascinating discussion of your “pre-game” routine. I recognize the “purpose focusing” process from the days when I taught, gave speeches or developed new programs to address social issues. Now in retirement, I garden and write. I’m grateful that I don’t have to travel or deal with others when I’m exhausted from the focus on writing.


    1. Thank you, Carol. I’m not sure — maybe you could say more about it — but I think there’s a difference between “purpose focusing” and what I do. If anything, I’m trying to defocus and just be open to the picture. Whatever that may be. In any case, either excretes is very tiring. Whew.


      1. I wonder if what I did (and do) is different. I have always had a clear idea about what I hoped to accomplish when I taught or spoke, and I (over?) prepared before I walked into a room. But when I walked in, I took time to observe what it felt like and breathed before I began. What I said and did flowed “with the energy in the room” without conscious thought. It was like “being in the zone,” being totally present and able to adjust and respond to changes spontaneously. I’m not sure if this makes sense, and it’s not a mystical thing 🙂 It is being open, present, and focused on a purpose at the same time. The purpose? To connect with people and somehow touch their hearts and ignite their curiosity about an issue while also providing necessary information so they could come to their own conclusions. And, while exhilarating on some levels, it was also exhausting.


      2. Hi Carole. I think we are headed to the same place, but through different approaches. What you wrote makes a lot of sense. The difference between us — I think — is that I try to empty everything out so that I can take in whatever is there. You, as a teacher, also needed to put information/energy out to your students. I don’t do that until I start working in post production. All of that is, as my old doc used a say, a form of psychic energy. I think. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree I lose myself in the photography and sometimes have to be told to put the caemrs down and just view it naturally. Found that with the northern lights I recently had the privilege of capturing as an amateur. Just blogged some of those phtos too, not the most amazing ever but was happy with the progress. When I put the camera down suddenly I saw so many new angles and appreciated the event for myself


    1. I stop shooting because I can’t work anymore. If I could train myself to keep going I would. But, I do have a limit which seems to be about three hours of intense seeing and reacting.


      1. Three hours is a long time. I think. I work pretty quickly but seeing is everything. That, and practice. Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the more you don’t have to think about what you are doing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel that way now and not just with photography. I have a span of energy and when I am done that’s it. The only difference between “being done” now and a few years ago, is that I don’t mind admitting that I am “done.” Of course, a few years ago I was photographing professionally and I was a lot younger. Now that I am older and free of deadlines, I don’t mind turning off after a couple of hours to think about something else.


    1. Pamela, I still have deadline and all of that but that’s a little different for me. Oh, these days I talk a lot about recovery time and letting pictures “marinate.” I really dislike having to edit — pick pictures or do the post — immediately after I’m done shooting. The memories of taking pictures get in the way.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.