I’ll say it again. The biggest gift photography has given me is the gift of “seeing.”
It wasn’t automatic. At first, I was consumed with all the dials and settings. Trying to get the exposure right. Trying to nail the focus. My brain can only think about so many things at once.
But eventually, with hours, and weeks, and perhaps even years of practice, all that became second nature. And I began to “see” differently. I began finding art everywhere.
I noticed a shift in my senior sessions recently. After getting the “safe” portraits my clients are expecting, I’ve started to take more risks. What will it hurt if I try something crazy? It might be an epic fail. Or it might be simply EPIC.
This senior had an amazing concept for his senior portraits. He wanted to wake surf wearing a suit. We spent an afternoon on the lake shooting tons of action shots. I knew we had nailed it. As we were heading back to the dock, I “saw” that sunset. And I decided to shoot this last shot - an image with him surfing home in the shadows. In the end, it turned out to be my favorite, even though you can’t see his face in detail.
I get two questions over and over when I share this image. First of all, “Why isn’t he wet?” That even led to a few people suggesting that maybe I used Photoshop to edit him into this scene. Actually he is wet. You just can’t see it because he is in the shadows.
The second question is, “Didn’t he ruin that suit?” Probably. But he bought it at Goodwill just for our photo shoot so it’s all good.
While traveling this past summer, I shot this senior’s portraits in downtown Huntsville, AL. She was all in for both traditional and more creative shots. I love the way we were able to use the hard light and shadows to get this unique image.
Later, we placed her in this street art mural for another unique portrait.
With my own work, I’ve been experimenting a lot. Sometimes “seeing” involves seeing what could be more than just seeing what is already there. I’ve been working on a series shot through rainy windows. Often these do involve combining more than one image. I see it in my mind first, and then I shoot the images to create my vision.
Art. . . Creativity. . . Seeing. This fall, I’m pondering these ideas as I teach photography at a local private school. My students are 4th-8th graders. And they are amazing. Creative and fearless. We talk a lot about “seeing like a photographer.” And they get it. They see light and shadows and reflections. They experiment with unusual angles. They are true artists in every sense of the word.
To read Part I of “The Seeing Series,” click here.