Thoughts on Photography – Chance

Whether I’m shooting street photography or abstract lens-based art, the element of chance is always an important factor. I generally start with intention in a loose way. There are things that I want to achieve and capture. But since I’m not able to predict the weather or what will appear in front of my lens, the element of chance takes part in the process as well.

It’s too easy to get disappointed. You wanted a long exposure of the skyline at dusk and it rained that day. Or it rained and you wanted long shadows. Or or. . . Fill in the blanks. I guess I’ve become flexible. I shoot in almost all weather. I like to shoot everywhere and just about all the time. That said I’m urban through and through. Urban photography requires flexibility of body and mind. Living in a big city or shooting one is always about chance!

Monochrome Street Photography
Beastie Boys, New York City, September 2017

Chance also implies change. Like being a shapeshifter. Adapting to the environment. Photography never bores me. You could say that I love it! And I give it my everything. Or at least I always try. I almost always come home with a handful of keepers.

I shoot because I am. What it all means I don’t know. But photography is a way of life. How cool is that? I consider myself lucky to do what I love. It took me many many years to get here and I still have a long way to go!

Photography is a Partial Truth

Photography is a partial truth. It is not the whole truth. And certainly not truth with a capital T. It is always subjective. When we take a photo we are translating a situation into our own way of seeing and believing. It is a version of reality.

A photo is always past tense and the subject is taken out of context. This is especially true in street photography and photos that are candid, that are taken without the subject being aware of their photo being taken.

Memory, New York City, June 2010

The opposite is also true. When you take a photo of someone and they know that you are taking it, they may smile when they aren’t actually happy. They respond to the presence of the camera.

There are a number of different examples. But perhaps more importantly, people are always more than what a single image is capable of revealing. We are always a composite of many images.

It does however happen that we attach one image in our memory to represent a person or event. Photography has provided bookmarks for the memory to utilize when recalling the past. And they are even capable of deception. (That is another topic that I will be writing about in the near future.)

I wonder what happens to the minds of people who are constantly taking selfies everywhere they go and if all these photos that they amass of themselves actually become meaningful to them? Or perhaps it’s a form of self-deception.