Thursday, September 19, 2013

More interesting stuff?

I visit several photo blogs and newsletter websites each morning just for a little inspiration. Recently, during one of my visits to Theme Photography Daily website (, there was a posting of a video ( where National Geographic photographers talked about why they still are photographing still images and the impact of a still image. While the Theme response was overall positive, the writer took one exception to the comments from the Nat Geo photographers.
At the very end, one of the older photographers said: "If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff." The writer said "True mastery is to find wonder and interest in what others find commonplace."
As I ran the video a second time, I concentrated mainly on the photos of people. (I am not a landscape or nature shooter so I was not sure if I could determine if they were "more interesting.") In the end, I agreed with what the writer was saying but also agreed with the Nat Geo photographer.
How, you say? Think about it this way as you watch the video a second time. Pretend that instead of looking at a pair of Afghan men with their pre-teen brides, you ARE one of those Afghan men. Now is it "more interesting stuff?" No, it is the others' commonplace.
On the occasions that I have visited foreign countries or gone someplace for the first time in the USA, I look at everything with wonder. I shoot like a madman, looking to get as many views from as many different angles as possible because, for me, it is "more interesting stuff!"
I have watched many Londoners go through Leicester Square without a single glance around. Yet, for me, it is a shooter's paradise with so many different ethnic groups passing through.
So, "more interesting stuff" really boils down to what appeals to you as an individual. I enjoy shooting people in documentary fashion. I have never been a poser of people so I do not find it to be "interesting stuff." I am not a big nature or landscape shooter even though I appreciate the artistry of photographers like Ansel Adams or Galen Rowell.
This is one of the reasons that many high-profile shooters say you don't have to travel the world to find a story, just look in your own backyard. Of course they are saying this as they are jetting off to some "exotic" location.
That is why, for a former small weekly newspaper shooter like myself, I seek to find the extraordinary in the ordinary around me. I have mentioned Bryan Moss' book "Photosynthesis" in an earlier post. Moss, a top-notch newspaper shooter, shows the simplest of images in his book. He tosses out some words to title a few of the images. The words alone are boring. The images are not.
So here is my attempt at titling some images with boring words which will be followed by the images. Don't jump ahead. Read the title and put an image in your mind. Then look at the image. Is it "more interesting stuff" or not? Only you can decide.

Titles like "three girls talking at high school football game".

 I captured this image as I was leaving a high school homecoming football (American football, not soccer) game. I did not even bring the camera to my eye, just to waist level, pointed, and hit the shutter. As usual at these events, many of the young ladies comes very dressy as they look to go to the dance afterwards. The young men, as you can see on the right, barely dress at all much less in something more formal.

Now, how about "man walks past open Tube doors".

I really was pleased with the way this image turned out. And I actually planned this shot!

Next up is "woman picks up glass at volunteers' meeting".

This lady was actually the founder of the CVHN organization in South Walton county, FL. I was covering the meeting and was looking for something that said what the meeting was about. I saw one of these folders, put on my 12-24mm lens, and was focusing on the words. Just about then she walked up to pick up her glass of wine and thought she would play with me not realizing how much area the lens covered. Boy, was she surprised when she heard the shutter go off!!

Finallly, "teenager opens school locker".

I saw this young lady with all the kids behind laughing and carrying on as they started the first day of the new school year. She seemed so alone as she worked to try to open her locker. I grabbed several images and then got distracted. When I turned back, she was gone. I had really wanted to get her name and show her the shot that I hoped would run in the newspaper that weekend. Just wanted to give her a little pick-me-up....
Well, did the actual images surprise you a little?
And, as always, make a comment!! Let me know what you think! Until next time, keep on shooting.....

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