Friday, April 04, 2008

Shoot Quick, Leave

I haven't done much painting, this week. I've been taking a lot of photographs instead.
I 've always travelled with a couple of cameras but I really only got into using them a lot outside my studio (where photographs have always been an important part of my preparatory process for a painting) last year. I am quite shy and it wasn't until I learnt some of the 'tricks' of traditional documentary photographers – Larry Burrows and Mary Ellen Mark are among new-found favorites – that I gained enough confidence to do the sort of work I really like.
I've had to stifle my compulsion to have everything perfect before I push the shutter button. "If you see the shot you want," a very experienced photojournalist once told me, "it's too late." He taught me to shoot a few frames quickly as soon as I thought there might be a picture; only when I "had the shot" could I afford to spend a moment refining the composition, focus and exposure. Another thing he taught me was, "When you think you're too close to a subject, take another couple of steps forward."
I don't pretend to be very skilled. A camera is just a tool that I use to make visual notes or to keep track of some external narrative. mostly when I travel. But I would like to become as good at using one as I am a pencil or paint brush.


Lynn & Horst said...

i really like it,

i maybe use the camera in the same way, a tool for taking visual notes, interestung struktures or constructions...

Corky said...

I like to indulge in a technique called "drive-by shooting". When I go on a long car trip I clamp my camera to a rolled down window. My Canon G5 allows me to set it to take one shot per minute for 99 minutes. Get some interesting shots sometimes. And some interesting looks from other drivers when they realize they may be the subject of a random photo.