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On Photography and the Aspect of Control

Siblings in the fall leaves at Prospect Park, Brooklyn NY

I’ve been enjoying using this as a space to reflect on what does (or sometimes does not) work about my latest photographs. I have fallen a little behind these past few weeks during this busy season as a family photographer. but I do want to get back on track because shooting for myself is how I will continue to bridge the gap between my own overarching vision as an artist and what my clients – namely the families I love to photograph – want to see in the images I make for them.

Some of my recent blog posts have been partly been inspired by an excellent e-course that I highly recommend called Find Your Eye, taught by Kat Sloma of Kat Eye Studio. One of her early lessons discusses one’s approach to photography: Which preferences emerge when I am most inspired to take a photograph?  What are the common circumstances when I feel most exhilarated to shoot, or when I am particularly satisfied to see an image on the back of the LCD?

I will reflect on some of these preferences over the course of a few blog posts, but for now I want to focus a little bit on something Kat Sloma discusses that she calls the aspect of control. This concept really resonates with me, and it has crystallized for me not only when I am inspired to shoot but also when I am not utterly NOT inspired. Prior to reflecting on this lesson I thought perhaps the reason I didn’t whip out my camera at every little moment –  even if  the light is perfect, even if the moment is magical – is because I was feeling lazy. But I no longer think that is the case. It is because some critical aspect of the resulting image does not suit my vision as an artist, and more often than not, it is an aspect over which I do not have control.

I have never been much of a street photographer, as much as Brooklyn is a kind of mecca for that style and approach, and I think it goes back to the issue of control. For example, I  have become increasingly aware of my attraction to the use of color to tell or enhance a story, and to create contrast and visual interest. This use of color can be quite difficult to control when you are not in charge of what your subject is wearing. Of course, there is always the decisive moment approach, but suffice it to say, that is not my preference when I am behind the lens.

Speaking of color, last week I gathered up the kids on a sublime color-soaked fall day for a very impromptu holiday card photo shoot. (Or what I like to refer to as a non-session session). I knew the locations we were going to use and that the light was going to be soft as we approached the late afternoon. I had that modicum of control I needed and I had a lot fun photographing my kids that day. I didn’t get “The One” from a series of images where the kids were seated in a pile of leaves (above), but I did get many moments of sweet connection that tell the story of their close sibling bond and which I am very fond of nevertheless.

Siblings walking in Park Slope, Brooklyn NY

As I have mentioned here before, I am especially fond of images where the subject is walking away from the camera, including this image and this one from my last blog post, which I captured on the same afternoon.

And how is your heart, soul and spirit today?

 

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