Monday, March 29, 2004

PJs are humble

Another interesting PJ quality is humility. Some of the greatest PJs are very humble. When you tell them you like an image, they normally say "thank you" and try to change the topic or talk about the subject rather than the final image.

I do it too. I'm not sure why. I think it's because we all have studied the great photographers and compare our small body of work against the aggregate of great work and realize we have nothing. This holds true for even the greats like Jim Mahoney, Richard Michael Pruitt and David Leeson. They're all humble, personable guys.

We recently assembled a book of prints as a going-away present for our esteemed lab manager. Each PJ was invited to donate one image for the book. Some staffers have 20+ years of images from which to choose. So, almost everyone chose something from the last year (many were less than a month old).

Why? We're only as good as our last image. If each image we make is better than the next, then the best image should be the last one. Right?

We all know this isn't possible, but it's ingrained in us to not settle for less. Likewise, our next shot should be better than something we shot a year ago because we've learned new techniques and polished our craft over the last year. This is why there are annual PJ competitions. The results inspire us to try new techniques throughout the year to expand our visual range.

Something else just came to mind. If someone talks too much about the image-making process, I'd think they set up the image (a big no-no).

To me, I capture the image (portraits and illustrations excluded). I don't really do much other than get myself in the right place and wait for the right time. If possible, I'll light the place (strobe) or the subject (flash). Consequently, when someone talks about an image, I think of it more as the subject because I simply made sure the light and CCD exposure were correct. I get a little credit for timing on the shutter and focus, but not much else.

In this method, a football player is the same as a pop singer is the same as a firefighter. They're all low light - fast action. Focus, shoot, hope, miss, quietly curse, try again. Because I see all the out-of-focus shots and missed moments and viewers only see the one that worked, I suppose it makes me humble. I know I messed up. I should have had the shot of the upside-down soccer player, but it was too soft (out of focus) to run. The viewer never knew this image was a possibility.

Enough for now,

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