There is an adage which goes something like “don’t go looking for something because that’s all you will find”. Unless I get an assignment whereby the client tells me exactly what the client wants with a shot list the best way that I can assure that I will come back with interesting photographs is to not go looking for any particular image. Instead I try to go into the situation as untainted by prior expectations. I want to take every experience as new and fresh: hopeful for the unexpected.
The worst case is when I have to shoot something that I’ve shot before. When this happens I hear myself saying, “Nope. Shot that two years ago. Hmmm nice but similar to a shot from five years ago. Oh! I could … huh-uh. I did that and it turned out nice enough for my folio. What else is there?” It can be daunting and for me that’s the fun: to always find something new no matter how familiar you are with the subject matter.
Some people say that if you are in a visual rut you should take a trip to someplace far away that you have never been to before. The new environment provides loads of stimulation due to the foreign and exotic nature of your surroundings. It’s both the appeal of much of the imagery we love about National Geographic and a good deal of the phrase “Wow! If I was in Africa/Japan/Russia/wherever I’m sure that I could make great photos!” … the places and people don’t look like what you are used to and instantly take on an interesting quality.
But what if you could do that, see things as exotic, while in totally familiar territory? Besides all the savings in travel you would constantly be seeing new and amazing things. That’s what I try to do. It’s not easy but for me it’s the way to be.
So I got assigned to cover another triathlon this year. I know ‘em and I love/hate ‘em. This one was blesses with some lovely light so that helped but as much as I love to play with shadows I made a point to not do that at all. I forced myself to find a way to make photos of a subject where I have limited physical access to different from what I’ve done before.
So one thing that I did was put my camera on a monopod and trigger it with my remote cord. That way I could shoot straight down on the swimmers as they swam past me on the floating dock. There were loads of images that were, EH!, but this one made me happy. I think that it’s the feet which I didn’t expect.
Next time I’m going to get a housing and get in the water with them. I wonder if I can shoot UP?