Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Travel is the great passion of our lives, my wife and me. We are determined to see as much of the world as possible before we get old(er) and unable to travel. I've often wondered what it is about travel that makes my heart sing.
What is it about those precious few days before you leave on vacation? Why does my heart beat faster? Why does music sound better? Why does food taste wonderful?
I am pretty sure that we are born to go out into that great big world and "take a look." Photographers have an added mission -- to communicate their vision to people they may never meet.
Taking the picture is about trying to SHOW how it FELT to stand at the foot of an ancient Aztec temple...or what you may have thought as you looked at a person sleeping outside Central Park in NYC with all their worldly possessions loaded into a shopping cart. I took the pic on the left on the last day of our last trip to NYC and I really felt moved by the image of this woman sleeping in the midst of all that activity. It didn't seem right to photograph her face...the posture of her body was enough.
The picture simply didn't work in color. It seemed far too ugly. This picture needed to be grainy and uncompromising. This is, after all a very definate "up yours" from street people, isn't there?
You need to stand and THINK about a photo before you take it. Think about how you plan to compose it. Think about how the visual you are creating will show how you felt as you stood there. We wound up at a Renaissance Fair one enchanted summer afternoon. Having never been to one of these before, I was simply blown away by the color and the passion of the people there. Some were in costume. Some weren't.
This precious woman WAS. And I loved the idea that after all these years she could still dream. And she could still dress up and put flowers in her hair. I wanted a picture that showed her doing something...and a picture that would allow us to look into her heart...just a little.
When we're on vacation, there's a tendancy to concentrate on where you are going, on the next meal or drink...to fail to be THERE in the precise place you've travelled to get to.
When you travel, consider taking your camera everywhere. Always try to see the picture. And after you've SEEN it, try to think how you will communicate that to other people.
They (whoever "they" really are) are planning to shut down Coney Island soon. How sad. This place is an icon. But it continues an existance in New York's progressively tough neighbourhood anyway. There are rides and food stands. There is a massive boardwalk and a beach and, of course Nathan's which is the birthplace of the hot dog.
I took a ton of pictures on the day we went there. This is my favorite. I looked at these people for a while before deciding how I would take the picture. I wondered if they had maybe met at Coney Island or courted there. I wondered who they were...and smiled when I saw the tender way the man had his arm draped over the shoulder of his bride. They were sitting together enjoying the day in the manner that suggests that they have enjoyed many days together.
I chose to put my subject a little off center, because I suspect that they have fallen a little out of step with the society that surrounds them. And they don't seem to care...which is the coolest thing of all.
Travelling is an experience. It is the task of the artist to try to communicate that sense of wonder to their audience. Look always around you. Study the environment. Smell the air, look at the people. THINK. THINK about how you will convey this in a visual image.