Seeing & Looking
Soul Before Shutter
IMAGINE A FRAME OF MIND
Has this happened to you too? You are out on a shoot, and someone sees your gear and begins to ask a series of questions. With the best of intentions, it seems some of the questions box you into a certain mindset: "What camera system do you use?" "Are you a (Nikon) shooter?"
Let's think deeply about the mindset. The idea of defining ourselves by a brand or type is nonsense. You never hear a violinist say "I play Black and Decker." The brand, the gear and the machine always take second fiddle to the idea.
The frame of mind frames the frame.
APOLLO & DIONYSUS
Sure, there are technically-oriented folks who love the mechanism. And when people ask about gear, they have good intentions. Some want to share the shots they've taken. Some tell you a little about their gear. Yet, others go on about gear 'til the cows come home, steering the exchange away from expressing the essence and to the science of gear: "You use that big lens?" "This only has 10 megapixels, but...", or "That's so heavy; I use my cell phone- it takes shots just as good, and when I sent the video to..." These topics are from our Apollo side, our rational balanced side. But this may be the time to let loose our Dionysian self that is intuitive, musical and emotional.
When silence is vital to photograph nature's creatures, gear talk can distract, and when such talk becomes debate, vision is interrupted, so I walk on. Now, there are times for gear talk, depending on context; when I am with people and we are not photographing, a lively conservation about gear is appropriate and I love the exchange.
Here's the thing. When the conversation shifts to gear, brands and types, only you can guide it back to what's truly important. Moment. Color. Light. Less information, more interpretation. It is our responsibility as visionaries to evolve, and to frame the best of our craft. Who crafts essential photographs? The creative, conscientious, curious brains that shape each mindful frame.
Let's keep working on the subject matter of our photographs, contemplate scenes that emerge from our inner being. Let light, culture, and expression be first and foremost. As we ponder ways to deliberately practice our intention, we can ask "why am I taking this?" Photo gear has been around for over 180 years. Your singular visual creative mind is here, now, in this place. Put the soul before the shutter.
Photos and Writings by Jim Austin Jimages
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