I managed to get motivated to do a more intentional shoot Sunday. I have had a project in mind, but didn’t have the time or energy to pursue it. As fate would have it, a deadline appeared out of nowhere for what I had been intending to do.
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to make as much time as I needed and didn’t get exactly what I wanted.
I often wonder if any photographers ever says to themselves, “There is nothing that could be better about this image.” Does that happen?
I once read a quote: “It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get” (Timothy Allen). There are times when there are so many obstacles to getting the shot I want that when I finally get something decent, I find myself pleased with it. Weeks later when the memory of how difficult the situation was has faded, if I happen across the same photo, I am only disappointed.
I guess sentimentality has the same effect–the more emotionally attached you are to the event, the people, the day, or whatever might color your personal response to a photo, the less likely you are to perceive your photo as someone who wasn’t there would. Since sentimentality is what drives the bulk of the photos taken in this world, when a photographer manages to create art, those images really stand apart.
I don’t have art yet, but I have a few images I have gotten attached to. I like what’s in these images because there’s something about them that strikes me as a reminder that beautiful things happen in simple ways. They also remind me that I’ve learned to see these things, which is perhaps at start at the most important lesson in photography.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t still many things I miss. I remember taking some corporate class once where they talked about how our brains automatically filter out what we aren’t interested in, causing us to completely miss information. When I took a motorcycle safety course, this phenomena was brought home to me when the instructor talked about how people don’t see motorcycles because they don’t expect to see them–in a large percentage of accidents where the motorcyclist reported having made eye contact with a driver right before the driver hit them, the driver reported having never seen the motorcyclist.
But the point is that photography is teaching my brain to filter less. As I walked home from an errand the other day, I couldn’t take my eyes off the sky. I was passed by cars, bicyclists, and other pedestrians that didn’t notice the sunset. I found myself wondering how many amazing sunsets I had failed to notice when the opportunity presented itself. I found myself grateful I’d taken up this journey–sometimes it frustrates me, but it has given me new ways to see. That’s a pretty big gift.