Leaning In

If you want your pictures to be better, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”
– Jim Richardson

“If you want to make more interesting pictures, become a more interesting person.”
– Jay Maisel

If part one of making things with meaning is to learn more about yourself then part two has to be all about leaning in and connecting with the world.

For me a deeper understanding of what resonates with me helps me get myself into situations that I more likely connect with.  Even then I feel that the camera can be a barrier which makes me more an observer, rather than a participant in the world.

The answer to the question of ‘how to break down that barrier’ is seemingly obvious.  Take time to experience the place and people that you’re going to photograph and build a relationship before rushing to grab a few shots.

Michael Kenna says that he takes time to talk to the land before he photographs, I suspect that this is his way of ensuring that barrier is broken down.  It’s a good practice to take time to wander around with out the camera and see what’s grabbing your attention before racing in to photograph.  Not advice I always follow myself and I can tell when I do and when I don’t.

The same goes for people too.  I can’t imagine why you would want to photograph people, to make their portraits, if you’re not genuinely interested in who they are and what’s their story.  Again, I think that you can tell when you look at the work from people who ‘stole’ the portraits and those who really took the time to engage.

Make photographs about things you care about and make me care too.

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2 thoughts on “Leaning In

  1. I think that last sentence describes my philosophy perfectly. I can make the most boring things interesting if I’m interested in it first. The same thing with reading – I read all kinds of topics mostly because the author made it interesting to me.

    Nancy

  2. Great advice and reminder that photography is about the “relationship” between photographer and the subject…and that this isn’t limited to people. It is that relationship we’re trying to share. Thank you.

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