Photography and Art

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I'm always amazed when I look at a photograph and find something unexpected that takes the shot from one level to the other. I guess I don't look at the world with enough focus to actually see these things ahead of time. Like Mr Magoo, the old cartoon character, I seem to stumble on them. The law of averages dictate that the more photos you take, the better the chances of finding something interesting and serendipitous. Here's what I mean.

I was taking photos of Edmonton, a very interesting city that goes from low-rise prairie town to high-rise city in a matter of one city block. I saw a woman exit my hotel and light up a cigarette. Terrific, I thought, here's an opportunity to add to my smoker project. I like taking pictures of people smoking outside buildings -- they have an lovely contemplative aura to them. It was a nice picture of a woman smoking, leaning up against the wall. When I developed the photo, I was surprised to see a passing bus in the frame that had a fragment of the words "peace of mind" in it. What a lucky piece of luck!

In a similar vein, I was bobbing around in a kayak on Sunny Lake in northern Ontario taking pictures of flowers in a small wetland adjacent to the lake. Later at home, I was developing the photos when I happened on a photo of a water flower that looked quite nice. The composition was fine and the flower was nicely in focus. When I looked more closely, I found an ant on the flower - posed like Yurtle the Turtle at the top of the plant, king of everything it surveyed. The photo transcended the original "post card" look and became a jumping off point for the viewer to create a story around the ant.

It just goes to show that there are terrific moments in time to be captured, when circumstances create a juxtaposition of elements that suggest a story or a mood. To capture these moments, you either have to be very good (think Henri Cartier-Bresson) or take a lot of pictures and be lucky!

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