March 2010 Archives

Marketing author Seth Godin has written a post for all those trying to say something and exhausted by the "quick-click, move on to the next thing" culture.

    When you spend a lot of time like I do taking environmental portraits for trade magazines or shooting machinery and workers in an industrial plant, you tend to art direct every shoot, determining lighting and directing every aspect of the shoot.  You make pictures, not take them.  So it's good to occasionally challenge yourself and take on quick moving challenges to keep the eye and reflexes sharp. 

    I photographed a gymnastics meet this past weekend, the Wolverine Classic in Saline, Michigan.  My daughter spent a lot of years perfecting her leaps at the meet's sponsor gym, and I like to help out the owners with photography a few times a year.  And just like my father used to tell me that success playing sports was all about anticipation, so too in photographing them. It's a challenge to figure out where the gymnast will be at what time, and to be at that spot a split second ahead of her.

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    And the secret is not to burn up your motor drive by photographing every second of a beam or floor routine.  We already have a technology for that.  It's called video.  Instead, use short bursts at just the right time.  I'm not a fan of wasting 100 frames to get one usable.  Better to know where the right moment will be. The skill being lost in the rise of modern digital cameras is the aptitude to look, concentrate and select the moment.  The studious ability to analyze beforehand and expose that one sheet of 4x5 film.  I fear we're becoming too lazy while holding down the shutter button.

     It's also fun and fullfilling to keep the photojournalist's mindset and observe all of life that's going on, not just on the competition floor.  Keep an eye behind scenes.  To paraphrase John Lennon, life is what happens while you're focused on the action.


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