Monday, January 5, 2015

In Photography as in Hunting, Sometimes it's Best to Stay Put

I know that there are a lot of similarities between photography and hunting. Take, for example, that both result in "shooting" your subject. I don't mean to carry that analogy further, but believe it's appropriate in this case. In working to photograph a particular subject, as in hunting, the photographer can choose to cover as much ground as possible, photographing what he/she sees along the way, or they can find a likely spot (not just any spot), and wait for the story or subject to come to them.
I've written about this picture before. (Click Here) to see my original post in the context of the project I was working on.
Goodbye My Friend, by Reed A. George
I shot this picture while attending the Magnum Days workshop in Provincetown, Massachussetts. (Click Here) to see the whole series of posts from the workshop.
I was hoping to photograph the end of summer in Ptown in a broad sense. I was struggling for how to do that more specifically. I found this summer bicycle rental shop, which was clearly wrapping up its season, and decided to stop and hang out. I met this very nice young man from Bulgaria, and just stayed around talking to him. I found out that he would leave for home the next day. Finally, after nearly moving on from there a couple of times, and getting hints from him that leaving would probably make him more comfortable as well, this nice lady from the neighborhood came over to say goodbye to him. There was my shot.
I just read an article on the NY Times' blog, Lens, about the same technique. (Click Here) to read how Fred Conrad used this technique, sitting on the roof of a building in Kosovo, to get his story.
This idea of finding a good location and waiting for a story is not new. In fact, I've read and heard it many times. But, like all good lessons for me, until I'm using it regularly and successfully, it's okay to be reminded of it. It's so easy to grab my camera and just start walking around, shooting what I see. Sometimes that's not the most productive approach.