Over the holiday break, I happened to be looking through my journal, thinking about the goals and objectives that I want to achieve this year when I came across this note that I had taken in a seminar with Jay Maisel:
“If you want to make more interesting pictures, become a more interesting person.”
Jay’s words proved to be the motivation I was looking for. The day before, I had noticed a barren tree across a river that I thought would make an interesting photograph. But at the time, we were in a hurry to get where we were going, so we kept on driving. The following day was really cold and I was very content to stay warm and cozy in the house. However, while I would have enjoyed reading a book or watching a movie, it would have meant consuming someone else’s content instead of taking the opportunity to create my own. So, with Jay’s words refusing to leave my mind, we grabbed our boots, coats, and hats and drove back in search of that tree.
We found the location easily enough, and to my surprise, the river had frozen over during the night creating beautiful patterns on the ice – it was even better than I had imagined from the previous day’s “drive-by”.
One of the things that I like to do when I photograph, is make sure that I don’t stop with “one and done” especially as I don’t feel I’m as good at capturing wide-angle scenes. Instead, I prefer to focus instead on smaller, tighter subjects where the scale of the photograph maybe seem slightly mysterious for the viewer. I find that if I’m patient and stand in the same spot for a few moments, images start to reveal themselves and, sure enough, interesting patterns in the ice began to catch my eye.
Next, I moved in for some close-ups to see if I could capture the details in the ice.
Growing up in California, I have to admit that I’ve always thought of snow as something that you “go to” in order to ski. Turns out, ice is slipperier than it looks. One misstep along an icy riverbank and you can quickly find yourself in the water. Instead of foolishly tempting fate by trying to get out on the ice, I opted to changed my perspective by walking along a bridge and photographing the frozen river from above.
At the end of the day, I found the images of the ice to be much more interesting than the photographs I made of the tree. And hopefully my adventure made me a more interesting person as well. : )
Here’s to a life filled with less consuming and more creating.
(By the way, if you ever have a chance to listen to Jay speak about photography, do it! His work is iconic, he calls it like it he sees it, and he’s (most likely) influenced your photography- even without you knowing it!)