notes for ...
Personally, having chanced across something - while strolling in a local wood perhaps, or somewhere else that I thought might be visually interesting - having noticed the way that sunlight illuminates a flower in a vase, as I sit drinking coffee at the kitchen table - having sensed something that moves me then I like to savour it for a moment or two, or perhaps longer.
Having savoured it a little, having sensed a little more clearly - having become a little more aware - of what it is that moves me then I move towards what feels the best position to appreciate and enjoy it. I now have a provisional camera viewpoint.
I then try to identify a little more clearly what it is that moves me - what it is that's important to the way that I feel; and what, if anything distracts from that feeling: I make a provisional choice about cropping - what it is that I want to include in the picture, and what it is that I want to exclude.
(In practice my savouring, moving, and mental cropping activities may sometimes shade into one another somewhat, but their order of precedence - their phasing - is distinct.)
Once I have made all the major decisions I'm then ready to get out a camera and a lens: a provisional choice of subject matter and viewpoint is already there, hopefully, just waiting for refinement via the viewfinder into a final image.
I find myself guided principally by my feelings - by my awareness of what feels most right at the time.
(Verbal thought does play a necessary part in the process, but it's a relatively banal and secondary one.)
My approach to photographing people unposed is analogous: initially I like just to watch – ideally, at least for moment or two, if not longer. Ideally, I like to let occasions warm up, and let people get relaxed before I get my camera out: I like to spend this time observing, especially if the occasion is a little unfamiliar for any reason. I like to try to appreciate what it is that's happening in front of me; and to decide what it is that I'd like to try to photograph, and how.
When I'm ready to make a move I'm already fairly clear about what it is that I want to photograph, and how, and I can go for my picture(s) fairly directly: hopefully without being intrusive or obtrusive: hopefully without disturbing the situation - without disturbing the people - that I want to photograph.
Most people feel self-conscious or uneasy in front of a camera, afraid of being shown at a disadvantage perhaps, or of being made to appear a little foolish. To point a camera at someone can even be (mis-)understood to imply 'I think you're a freak'. - It can help to be aware of people's feelings; and to make allowance for them ...
People lost in the moment can be a little special.
Every picture is selective: it shows only a part of what could be seen from just one spot; and at just one moment in time.
Any movement of the camera causes something new to appear and something else to disappear. Additionally, changing where you stand alters the relative positions and the relative sizes of things.
As the camera moves fresh aspects of the scene are rendered visible, others are obscured. As the camera moves the degree of awareness and attention which each part of the picture attracts ebbs and flows: as the camera moves the balance, and the degree of emphasis concentrated on each part of the picture ebbs and flows. Small movements of the camera may make small differences to a picture's effect, large movements may make large differences.
As seconds, minutes and hours pass appearances change - from patterns of sunlight and shadow on a hillside, to transient expressions on faces - sometimes a potential photograph exists only for a relatively short time.
At some point a decision needs to be taken - a relatively inconsequential gamble must be taken - a particular opportunity is worth taking, or can be relinquished.
A choice among each of the myriad possible combinations of subject matter and disposition is always effected, whatever the intention, or level of skill or awareness exercised. Responsibility for choice may be grasped or abdicated - the actual choice made probably won't be a perfect one, but it may well please ...
"Small movements of the camera may make small differences to a picture's effect, large movements may make large differences."