Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/08/07

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Subject: Re: [Leica] On Photographic Seeing
From: (Ted Grant)
Date: Fri, 7 Aug 1998 20:32:38 +0100

Joseph Codispoti wrote:

<<<<<As a first challenge (albeit a small one) for Curt Miller, or anyone
willing to comment, I would like to know what exercises photographers who
"can't see the forest for the trees" employ .  In other words, how can one
keep sharp
in spotting a potential photograph among the mundane.>>>>>>


I think this is harder to explain than do. When I lived in Ottawa I would
get mad when magazines I normally shot for sent stranger photographers to
"my town."  In other words, "How come you guys sent him here when I already
live and work here? And regularly shoot for you people?"

The answer from the photo-editor was usually..."You live there and don't
see your town with new eyes!" And when the magazine would come out with the
picture spread my reaction usually was, "Damn I never saw it that way and I
drive by it nearly every day!"

And over the years I have learned that shooting your own home town is the
toughest assignment you can be given.."What? You want me to shoot my city?
Hell there's nothing new here, surely this would be a better story if you
sent me to Athens or New York."

They were right and so was I, because we do a better job looking at new
territory whether we want to admit it or not, than we shoot in familiar

How do I get around this?

I pick a completely different time of day to shoot!  Start before dawn wrap
around 10 a.m,  veg out until 4 p.m. and shoot until after sunset.  Stay
away from the traditional hours of the day unless it is absolutely
necessary. And then as little as possible.

Besides the Leica glass shines golden during those off hours and light levels.

Another thing to try,  take one lens and one camera and force yourself to
use it like you have never used it before.  Say a 15mm lens and that is the
only lens you have and shoot like crazy, on some just let yourself go wild
with imagination.  Sure you're going to blow a bunch, but that's not
relevant as the ones that really work will blow you away.  And that is the
bottom line of a successful shoot,  a few dynamite images like you've never
done before.

>When I travel I find all I see to be exotic while in my home surroundings I
>tend to became blase at seeing the same haunts day after day.>>>>>>

And that's why you have to shoot your familiar surroundings at times you do
not normally drive or walk around it.

Another one is to shoot your area when you have just bought a new Leica
lens or camera and want to try it out.  When I do it this way, because the
lens is new, it creates an inward feeling of wanting to do something
magical with a lens I've always wanted to own.  The first 21mm R lens I got
way back when, I went out after a rain storm one evening and shot one roll
of slide film. One of the frames sold for $1500.00 and I was merely
screwing around playing with a new toy and not working at it.:)

But the lens gave me an enthusiasm to do something that I couldn't have
done before and it also  help pay for the lens. :)