I had my idea worked out for the photo essay, Anti-Social Networking. But how do I make photographs that don't look like all of my other photos taken in this essay/workshop? Is that even possible? It was at that time that I realized that there is a whole lot of research I need to explore on my essay topic. What other photographs would express this topic? I began to think that I'd have to explore other ways to photograph. Would I need to learn indoor lighting, get people to pose for me? I've never really liked that kind of photography, but maybe this would lead to someting else for me? More questions than answers. I began to think, "What right do I have even approaching this topic?" The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn't know much about my essay idea. These are not very productive thoughts halfway through a workshop on the Photographic Essay, especially when I'm shooting film and have all this work in front of me. Press on! Something will come out of this!
When we were doing our morning photo reviews in the morning with David, he talked about "finishing" the shot. Never heard that term before so I was immediately lit up. He showed us by example, which he is so good at. He showed us his contact sheets from a recent book he did. How we got the shot that he wanted by getting into the position he needed. And that he might take a few shots to get there. "Sometimes you have to take the shot that you don't want in order to get to the place you need to be for the 'shot'." David gave us examples of shots that he took in dangerous situations where a requested shot led to permission to take others. Plant yourself there. Don't move. Let the action come to you. "Ownership" came to my mind; own the shot, own the spot. Pursue it, don't just take one shot. Yeah, take the shot, but then look at what didn't work with the initial shot and try to get in a better position for it. I'm not talking about "chimping" the back of your camera either. In street photography you usually don't get a second chance for the shot, and there's no room for a chimp here.
There was a shot that I brought to class that met this criteria, not finished. There was an element to the shot that David critiqued, "Man, this is a great shot. Too bad you've got this huge section of wall in your shot." If I had finished the shot, I would have noticed the wall and moved in closer, but then I wouldn't of had the glance back by the guy passing by. It would've been a much different shot. I still like the photo, but it doesn't work totally. But that is chalked up to the hazards of street photography... you deal with failure more often than not, and that's the challenge of it all.
That afternoon I shot until about 7pm, got home, and immediately hit it. Develop film, eat some dinner, dry negatives, print contacts, edit from wet contact sheets, and make prints. Had a crop of about 15 photos. Dry them with a squeegie and hair dryer, scan them and put on a USB memory stick. Got to sleep about 3am.
Here's a word about comparing digital to film. I queried the people in the workshop shooting digital and they too were going to sleep around 3am too, and they brought the same amount of photos to class. Hmmm...
Hey, you've gotten this far on my blogposting and I appreciate you sticking with it. Thanks for all the kind words and feedback.
Special thanks to those that have sent me spelling fixes; Susan Catherine Weber, and Frank Brinsley! Thanks for helping me out!
Born and raised in New York City. Lived in Warsaw, Poland, and Portland, Oregon. Now living in Austin, TX, for the past year.