How I became a street photographer

Two young men inspect a batch of sunset photos that one of them has just taken with his smartphone, thoroughly oblivious to the fact that they are blocking the view that it took me half an hour to compose and another half hour to wait for. I exchange knowing headshakes of disbelief with the grey nomad couple beside me who have been sipping white wine and observing my careful tripod and camera adjustments all this time.

Later, I congratulate myself for taking their inconsiderate behaviour into my stride and choosing to view them as meaningful parts of my landscape, however unpeopled I often prefer my public spaces to be.

Departure

7 responses

  1. I enjoy your “take” here, Brad, both as photograph and as experience. Sometimes people can be a much too meaningful part of the landscape.

    As someone once wisely remarked: it’s not so much what happens, as what you make of what happens…

    • Thanks, Cynthia. It seems especially odd, after reflecting on alternative approaches to interpreting your words about much too meaningful people, that when meaningful people we hold near and dear suddenly depart from our lives a common reaction is to reduce our future exposure to meaningful people. Lest they, too, become much too meaningful. Clearly the end result can only be a premature descent into meaninglessness, but life feels safer that way.

  2. That must have been utterly maddening Brad, and yet the end product, Landscape With Figures, makes a striking human picture. I hope you also captured the pure landscape shot you wanted.

    • They were in the frame for the full sunset that evening. I was annoyed at first, but that soon passed. I did return a couple of nights later for some uninterrupted photos, but as photos go they proved to be far less interesting.

  3. i hear tell that annoyances that may arise have lessons to teach. but first they are annoying:) my first painting teacher used to say “don’t be precious”
    which was so hard to take because i thought my flawless careful renditions of his rusty old junk classroom still life set-ups were illuminatingly crisp and choice with color. sigh. the lesson was about loosening up. not clinging to even the most precious (idea, circumstance, photo set-up haha, desire, predilection, passion etc etc etc) but being FREE to experience whatever it is, thus illuminating something deeper. I had to let go of using pink and pale yellow lines to make glass look like it was glistening even though i loved it so, my precious. but then i was forced to see the colors differently, and thus began to really “see”.

    • I’m sure the bulk of what I have learned has been prompted by annoyance of some sort or other, whether annoyance at my own inability to achieve some practical result at work or in my creative endeavours, or annoyance when people say/do ‘the wrong thing’. The list could on, which prompted me to google ‘philosophy of annoyance’ to see if that’s a thing, and sure enough it generates some fascinating results.

      I guess that painting teacher was either not familiar with, or maybe not a fan of, Impressionism? If he appreciated impressionism he might have encouraged you to not worry so much about painting the glass and just paint the glisten:)

      • he was an abstract expressionist at the time. now he is doing intricate drawings of tree textures and growth movements. fascinating stuff, but that’s beside the point.
        at that time i was exploring figurative painting, it was cezanne for me, not monet or the impressionist guys. he knew that – so it wasn’t about using an impressionist approach to making glisten, it was about using a blunt flat of paint to create the illusion of light passing through/over glass. as such i found that these pink and yellow lines would somehow “automatically” do that glass thing, provided the rest of it (everything in the picture relating) fell into correct placement color and reflection-wise. but that isnt even the point. the thing is, i started just using that trick without thinking. i “knew” it would make “glisten”. But that approach failed to see the other ways that glisten could be made using what is actually there right now in the moment, such as differences in surrounding colors, lighting, etc etc etc. so you see the pink and yellow lines were not authentic, except for the first time i discovered them, because that was what i “saw”. after that i made a brain connection: “pink yellow lines=glisten”. but it is untrue in the absolute sense that these though they will “work” are the “finest” of fine art choices. they may say “glisten”, but they may not be saying it in the most poetic elegant way. being as how i prefer finding the “fine” in fine art, it behooved me to learn other ways of seeing and not to get “precious” about discoveries like pink and yellow lines making glisten.

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