Monday, July 9, 2012

Live In The Moment

That title is a zen mantra. It describes just how I feel when I'm out in the street doing my thing. If I made it out my door, onto the train, and into New York, I've left everything behind for the time being just to be out in the world and let my instincts take over. For me, shooting like that is magical. When I first began working like that I made a lot of mistakes - if I got one good shot for a whole afternoon of walking I was very happy. That was in my film days which could mean two or three rolls of film - 75-100 exposures. As much as I liked to work in the darkroom, developing film was not my task of choice, I hated it. To get so many goofs was at first quite disheartening. But I learned to value the goofs as much as the good shots. I enjoyed printing the good stuff, but I really learned from the goofs. 'Oh yeah, I'm not doing that again.' When I brought those experiences forward into my digital days, shooting on the street became transforming for me. I was able to let my instincts go, trust them, and just search for faces or moments .... whatever. And my success rate increased. I wish I could say I got better logarithmically or geometrically, but I'm happy with arithmetically.

It takes work. In my film days most of my good street work was done with my Leica M6 and either a 35mm f2 or 21mm f2.8 lens. When I got back to work using my D700 I almost always used my 24-70 f2.8 zoom lens with it's lightning fast focus and everything else. I got lazy. Now that I'm back to my roots - with the X-Pro1 and one of two prime lenses - I find that the lack of immediate flexibility makes me more creative and inventive. And when I nail a shot I feel so happy. At the end of last week I took a walk with a friend of mine who was visiting New York for the first time. I like to shoot alone, and it wasn't my intention to zone in and do my street thing, but some shots were just begging to be taken. The first of these happened while I was standing on the corner watching all the girls go by (waiting for my friend to meet me). This big guy just popped up in front of me and blocked my view, so I got him back by taking his pic. The second shot happened as we were walking up Sixth Avenue. After the shot was made, the gentleman decided he didn't want his picture taken and pursued us up the avenue. He stuck his iPhone in my face and took my photo with it. I guess he showed me .......