I once had a photojournalism professor called Joe B. Swan. He was one of the kindest people that I’ve ever meet. He was from West Texas. He taught at San Jose State University. He had a pronounced West Texas accent. He talked about “shaders and siluets.” That’s what you are looking at right now.
Shadows and Silhouettes.
He also talked about making pictures from the “dog’s eye view.” Or, as I call it, “What the dog saw.”
Lessons learned in 1974 are still true today. Obviously.
Why him? Why now?
I had a couple of WordPress conversations with a couple of you. One talked about how well my picture turned out. One said, even after two years she doesn’t have pictures like mine. The third was about “What would Ray do,” to not shoot a touristy picture.
A dangerous thing happened. I started thinking. You know how that goes. Heh!
I thought about how I learned. Forget the technology. I learned using film cameras, developing the film and making prints in a wet darkroom. Today, most people have never done that. Doesn’t matter. Many people do not even do any post production. They shoot auto everything, make an in-camera .jpg and put the picture on their blog, or on Facebook, or Twitter.
None of that matters. Really. The picture is the thing. The thing that matters. It also matters that the picture is printed on paper. That’s another story.
In order of the conversations.
My pictures never “turn out” good or bad. They are an extension of my vision. Even when I talk about “tinkering,” I’m trying to get to the picture in my head. Not just the look. Also, the feel. If I can do that in camera without any real post production help, so much the better. For me, there are no accidents. That’s the difference between making or taking a picture. By the way, if I can’t get to “my picture,” you aren’t seeing whatever I did get to. No point in that. Think about it.
The other two comments — two years and touristy — are about the same thing.
Unless you are photographing every day, making a lot of exposures, curating tightly, and learning from your mistakes; two years is nothing. You are just getting started. When I say make mistakes, I’m talking like this. Your keepers — the good stuff — usually should average out to about 10% of your entire take. That’s not so much.
Same with not shooting touristy pictures. You have to take them to get to the good stuff. You don’t have to show anybody. If you live in a place in which you can return to a specific location frequently, great. You learn its ebbs and flows. You learn about its shadows and light. It will teach you. If you can’t return frequently then follow this saying… as a wise man once told me, “Don’t take the picture, let the picture take you.” Find a place. Sit there and wait for something to happen. When it happens, you’ll be ready.