I wish that taking a photo helped, but it does not. Regardless of the circumstances which put this couple out on this corner on this day, this must be nothing but a humbling experience. It also makes me think…
Yesterday, I was thinking out loud. With a bit more time to think as I talked with folks in the social-mediasphere, I see there are actually two issues here, both worthy of much discussion. One is the audience: the photos they take, the lines they cross. Two, and more at the core of the problem, the hired photographer’s approach to photographing the wedding. Here, we will discuss only the hired photographer.
What is the problem? Photographers following the couple down the aisle. Walking right up to the couple during the ceremony, not only blocking everybody’s view, but going where only the two being married and the one doing the marrying should go. Walking back and forth behind the couple, providing a distracting backdrop for the whole ceremony.
Now, having seen such behavior, new couples preparing for their weddings are afraid of the photographer, especially those who want that special day to be special…and actually about them instead of the photographer. The minister may say something, but often it is ignored, much like the teacher nobody respects yelling commands as the children run wild. What is at the root of this problem?
I attended a wedding this past Saturday, and I had a couple thoughts. Now, keep in mind, this wedding was in Thailand, so this is not completely applicable to all weddings…as if it could be even if it were in the United States, because weddings are all so wildly different these days.
My thoughts were not just about wedding photography, as in the professional hired to photograph the event, but also all the photography which takes place in a wedding. Really, I took a couple snapshots which could say quite a bit in and of themselves.
Yesterday, I took the scenic route back to my parking spot. I was just running a normal errand and had my one-year-old in my arms. Sure, we accidentally parked a little too far away initially, but that had nothing to do with the scenic route. The mood, history, and culture of downtown Temple, Texas inspired us to take a slightly less direct path back to the car…just for the beauty of the moment. I was less concerned with taking photos than I was with enjoying a few extra minutes of the day. What I received was more enjoyable and eye opening than I expected.
The “Learning to See” in the title is a reference to Chris Marquardt’s Learning to See Workshops. Not that I have been to a workshop, but I have listened to his Tips from the Top Floor podcast quite a bit, and really appreciate his approach to photography. I could not agree more with his website byline: “learn to see”. How we experience life, what we notice, and the learned ability to switch perspective are key ingredients to the quality of photography we produce. I learned a lesson in learning to see on that scenic walk back to the car.
Asia is great for photography, especially photojournalistic photography. You can always find people on the streets and, from a Western perspective, there is always something interesting going on. Having just returned to the United States, I have to adjust to the new situation, adjust to the rhythms and patterns of the American culture, to be able to catch those photos which can portray life and work and reality in the United States.
There are many aspects of photography, many different paths down which it might lead. My own path is a journey in pursuit of reality, or “true reality” as I like to call it (though I know how redundant that sounds), and with the potential of photography to freeze a moment in time, “reality” is indeed a common pursuit in photography, but not the “true reality” or the spiritual reality which lies behind, through, and all around that surface-level reality. I heard a quote that really seemed to be attempting to bridge the gap between the surface reality and the deeper and wider reality.
In the biographical documentary about James Nachtwey, War Photographer, Nachtwey said, “It’s more difficult to get publications to focus on issues that are more critical, that do not provide people with an escape from reality, but attempt to get them deeper into reality, to be concerned about something much greater than themselves.”
I have been challenged by War Photographer, a documentary film about the “anti-war” photographer James Nachtwey. As it points out, though he may have started out with at least a partial desire for the travel and adventure, he has become something of an anomaly: he is a quiet and hopeful photographer, who believes his photography can make a difference, even in such overwhelming issues as war, poverty, hunger, and disease.
He says in the film, “We must look at it, we’re required to look at it, we’re required to do what we can. If we don’t, who will?”
I just read an excellent interview with Ami Vitale by The Adventure Life. The interview, thankfully, did not focus on gear or the technical side of photography, but instead gave us a good idea of who Ami Vitale is, how she works, how she survives, and a great feel for how she covers the stories.
Is objectivity an illusion? What does objectivity mean to you? Is it something journalists should strive for? Why or why not?
[Ami Vitale said…] “Yes, I believe objectivity is an illusion but I also believe that there are a multitude of viewpoints and that no one “Truth” exists. I believe that unless we understand and give voice to these perspectives, reason remains veiled. Ignorance in each other’s stories leads us to assume we know them. It allows us to maintain perceptions of differences based on our own preconceived notions.”