“Chris, how many items are on your brew plan checklist?” I asked.
He paused, considering: “At least a hundred.”
Brewmaster Chris Coyle and I were sampling two flights of 5-ounce glasses. In between tastes, Chris told me about his detailed checklist for each of the micro-brew batches he creates at his NSB brewpub in New Symrna, Florida. Over the years, Chris has tasted and evaluated beer from worldwide breweries.
Learning to make each of his beers with a distinctive flavor and a blend of ingredients so the beer would match the location of the country and culture where it was made, Coyle's process involves a dedicated skill set. His experience, consistency and attention to detail are matched by creative experimentation which adds a depth of taste to each beer. As Chris explained his process, I was reminded of how I photograph.
Making a creative photograph is like brewing beer. First, I make sure the basic steps are completed, using a checklist. This means checking off items to ensure I pack the gear I need and that it's organized for a specific shoot. I ensure batteries are charged and lenses are cleaned with their location labeled.
Next, I visualize the tasks that will take place, in a series of mental steps, which might include a complex shot list for a wedding or a simple formula dialed into the camera for black-and-white street photography. Then, the final step is posing the THREE new QUESTIONS:
What is your name? What is your Quest? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? ( Ha, no, I am kidding here and just having fun... those are the Monty Python and the Holy Grail questions from their classic Bridge of Death scene). Here are the real questions.
THREE NEW QUESTIONS:
I've discovered that posing these questions, I've learned to love the questions themselves. Learning to love the question can be as rewarding as finding answers.
We listened, and watched. The whale came up fast out of the ocean. She opened her mouth. Gulp!
"It's lunchtime. I'm hungry," said the whale. The whale looked over.
"Don't get too close, you'll scare the fish," said the whale, slowly.
She vanished. Silence.
Gulls flew over the water. Not another sound. So, we listened more.
Suddenly, there was a burst of white foam on the ocean. Many, many tiny silver fish jumped up all in a row.
The whale! She rose up to gulp down the fish. She loves her favorite shrimp, for lunch.
We pointed our boat away from her to be quiet.
She rested on top of the ocean. Then the whale went down for awhile but soon rose up for another mouthful.
"Yum," said the Whale. Then, slowly, she went back down to her friends.
The moral of the story, said the Whale, is "Listen. My ocean can show you many magical things."