I was very nervous when Rion and Jake invited me to be one of the presenters at New York City Photobloggers 4. I wasn't sure what I should talk about. Technically, my photos are all very simple. I meter, set aperture, set speed, focus, compose and shoot. What about the subjects then? I don't think my photos have any "wow" factor to them. I don't get to travel very often so, there aren't many exotic places I can talk about. There is no particular theme to the photos either... they are quite random... places, things, people... oh yes, and dogs too. Most of them are just part of my everyday life.
Well, I guess I can share with you what photography means to me... what makes it so special.
At the beginning, I think it was about hunting for a good shot... a trophy to take home. But now there is something more to it. Photography forces me to slow down and see what I used to miss rushing through life.
I have been taking pictures on and off for the last 20 years since my dad gave me a Pentax MX with a 50-millimeter prime. I still use it from time to time. When I started, I only looked for something that most people would consider special... something out of the ordinary... a special souvenir. So I mostly shot when I traveled. These were taken during my rare trip back to Thailand last year.
In my daily life, like most New Yorkers, I was always in a rush. I just wanted results. I just wanted to get from point A to point B. I couldn't care less about anything in between.
Like many of us here, I started my photoblog to motivate myself to take more pictures... to collect more trophies. I started to carry a camera with me everywhere I went. With a camera in my hand, I started to slow down instead of always rushing around. Of course, a good shot was still what I was after. Some days, I managed to take a shot or two. Other days, none. Sure, getting film back from a lab, and finding I had some good shots, was a great joy. But along the way, something else began to happen. When I slowed down, I started to notice things I never had before. I started to be more aware of my surroundings... things, people, lighting and so on. They had always been there.... Where was I? I started to appreciate ordinary life as it is a lot more... one frame at a time.
I take pictures of everything. Very often, there is no particular reason. I can't always explain what catches my eye.
Sometimes, I think it's the light.
Sometimes, I think it's the object.
Sometimes, I think it's both.
Sometimes, I think it's the faces that pop out of nowhere.
Sometimes, it's nothing I expected... just plain luck.
Although a lot of things interest me, I find people are the most fascinating.
I love watching people. With a camera in my hand, I curse a little less waiting for the subway.
I've never directly asked for permission to take someone's picture but in most cases there is a non-verbal agreement. A good smile goes a long way. I'm a slow shooter. I usually carry an all-manual camera with a wide or normal lens so, "shoot and run" isn't an option. There is no hiding. I'm within arm's reach in most cases. They could just smack me if they want to. Whenever possible, I enjoy talking to the people I photograph. And I often find it is very rewarding. It gives me some extra time to find a shot. Plus, it doesn't hurt to be nice anyway. I guess I'm a little nosy and a little chatty to begin with.
Here is Sadi. She's very sweet. Every time I went down on my knees, she came right in to give me a kiss. It took me so many tries to get this shot. I was sure I looked very funny. Too bad, Fredrik wasn't there to capture me being silly.
My love of dogs is also a good conversation starter.
Talking to the people I photograph allows me to enter the picture... instead of just looking in... I get to know them a little better. They show their character a little more and I think it's reflected in the photo.
Sometimes, I get to learn something new too. George and his friends told me a bit about fishing... good spot, good time to fish. These guys caught quite a few.
Sometimes, it's not about the fish. Keith and I met these guys when we were walking around Roosevelt Island... just hanging out. If we managed to get a good shot or two, great. If not, we had a good time anyway. They didn't catch any fish but they enjoyed just being there.
Today when I think about photography, it isn't as much about a chance to take home a trophy. It's an opportunity to slow down and develop a better way of looking at life. I always find a new angle to love about my wife, Pom.
By taking it slow, I'm sure that you will find something you haven't noticed before... even something very close by.