the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

SEE DICK THINK.

Slow yourself down by shooting someone who is slowing himself down.

Slow yourself down by shooting someone who is slowing himself down.

By MICHAEL PERKINS

FORGET BLOWN EXPOSURES, SHAKY SNAPSHOTS, AND FLASH-SATURATED BLIZZARDS. The hardest thing to avoid in the taking of a picture is winding up with a picture full of other people taking a picture. Hey, democracy in art, power to the people, give every man a voice, yada yada. But how has it become so nearly impossible to keep other photographers from leaning in, crossing through, camping out or just plain clogging up every composition you attempt?

And is this really what I’m irritated about?

Maybe it’s that we can all take so many pictures without hesitation, or, in many cases, without forethought or planning, that the exercise seems to have lost some of its allure as a deliberate act of feeling/thinking/conceiving. Or as T.S. Elliot said, it’s not sad that we die, but that we die so dreamlessly. It’s enough to make you seek out things that, as a photographer, will actually force you to slow down, consider, contemplate.

And one solution may lie in the depiction of other people who are, in fact, taking their time, creating slowly, measuring out their enjoyment in spoonfuls rather than buckets. I was recently struck by this in a visit to the beautiful Brooklyn Botanical Gardens on  a slow weekday muted by overcast. There were only a few dozen people in the entire place, but a significant number of those on hand were painters and sketch artists. Suddenly I had before me wonderful examples of a process which demanded that things go slowly, that required the gradual evolution of an idea. An anti-snapshot, if you will. And that in turn slowed me down, and helped me again make that transition from taking pictures to making them.

Picturing the act of thought, the deep, layered adding and subtracting of conceptual consequence, is one of the most rewarding things in street photography. Seeing someone hatch an idea, rather than smash it open like a monkey with a cocoanut does more than lower the blood pressure. It is a refresher course in how to restore your own gradual creativity.

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4 responses

  1. Wow that was a very inspirational read 🙂 Very valuable in any creative process to deeply consider what it is you are doing exactly before just rushing to the act itself! Did not expect such a thing to come from a ‘see dick think’ article lol

    October 18, 2015 at 10:09 PM

    • Thanks so much. I think we often concentrate on photographing objects or events, when feelings have a visual vocabulary all their own.

      October 22, 2015 at 12:58 PM

      • Yes that’s very true, and too many selfies without taking into account the environment around us and how that would boost the photo haha

        October 22, 2015 at 3:20 PM

  2. I have been researching some new trends in de-constructing the selfie which I hope to share soon…..

    October 22, 2015 at 3:43 PM

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