“I’d look out over a beautiful sunset and my mind would say, Nah, I got a better one yesterday. Or I would take a shot from a far distance of someone doing qigong with the fog behind them and think, Damn it, if they were only 20 feet higher on that hill they’d be better silhouetted,” he said. ”[I’d] just be noticing–noticing the aversion, noticing the clinging, noticing the judgment.”
For me, this is what it's all about - not making photos of everything I see, but rather, being selective and challenging myself with simple questions like:
- have I seen this done before?
- have I photographed something like this before?
- what can I do to make this unique?
If the scene before me passes through these filters, then I spend some time with it, carefully looking, composing and looking again. I treat each set-up as a journey, an exploration of the scene and what it represents to me.
The result? Decidedly fewer set-ups and far fewer frames to edit, but far more memorable and enjoyable photographs. In fact, particularly when travelling, I often find that as a result of my intense interest in a place, a scene or an experience, I often remember far more details of the encounter than the casual observers who may be with me.
Much like MIke's experience, I credit this approach to working first with Pentax 67, then 4x5, where frames were precious. Ten backs = twenty shots, and each set-up was far more time consuming than it is now, so each shot demanded careful consideration. While this approach to photography would not appeal to everyone, it works for me.