Dance couple at LGBT event in Port-au-Prince
Walking around with at least one camera has made me more aware of my surroundings, of people’s actions and their expressions, light, shadows and the ubiquitous things of life. I used to think photographs were about the subjects but I realise they are also about the photographer – both are defining.
The two hardest things have been summing up the courage to photograph people and having the confidence to move from auto focus / programme to manual. In photographing people in particular, I am conscious of the power behind the camera to tell the subjective story and to distance oneself from the ‘object’ – person [s] which is why I make an effort to engage with the people I photograph even if it’s momentarily and it has to be a genuine connection between me and the other person[s].
Don Springer of Inspired Eye [along with Olivier Duong – you have to listen for the wheat amongst the irritating chaff] make the point that the notion of being close to your subject is not about distance but about the heart, the feeling you have. If you dont have that feeling then you are essentially a photo thief [my words not theirs]. Springer spells this out in citing the difference between taking a photo and making a photo. The former is the photo thief whereas the latter is a guilt free creative activity. Once I understood this, I no longer feel inhibited on the streets.
As Olivier says, you have to have the connection and you have to embrace that connection. Duong also makes the point that when he is in Haiti, he has a very different feeling towards his photography than when he is in the US. I agree, in the US I have to make an effort and most times there is no feeling. Whereas in Haiti or Nigeria or Jamaica, I feel my photos.
Other points worth mentioning are
“knowing what you are doing, why you are doing it. Thats what matters. Thats intent.
Professional and amateur, this is the big question and I like Springer’s definition. – This boils down to the question: Who are you shooting for, yourself, for the love of it or a paid assignment where you are shooting for the client !
Me, I’m still in learning mode, I’ve moved to manual because I felt pressure that shooting manual defined a ‘professional’ and yes it allows for more creativity and definition if you know what you are doing – but if I’m in ‘be prepared’ mode then its auto focus and I am happy with it.
The Inspired Eye are excellent podcasts though they can both be irritating with sometimes excessive banter