Reflections of Living

Now let's look at the third C. First there was Content, next Composition and now Context. Our external vision is contextualized by our internal sense of self. In what context do you see what you want to photograph? Even if you're not immediately or even consciously aware of it, you see things (we all do!) in the context of your own life and experience. Are you attracted by what you are photographing? Are you repelled, awed, frightened, overcome, angry at what you see? When you are conscious of these feelings, you can make them work for you, or - if need be - overcome them.

Think about what bothers you, and confront it. Are you afraid of height? Try making photographs from a glass elevator or from the top of the Empire State Building. Are you shy? Try approaching people and asking to make their photograph. It's not as difficult as you might think. It has been my experience that many people participate in the photo-making process because they are flattered by the attention. Remember you are making a record of their being and offering them another view of themselves.

People always ask how I gain access to shoot many of the ceremonial photographs that show people worshiping. Let's face it, religion is an emotional issue that people fight wars over. Faith is intensely personal. People have to trust you - and your vision - to allow you access to their most sacred moments. Trust comes when you learn to suspend your opinion and approach people without judging them - in a non-judgmental context

Shoot from the Heart

It takes practice to learn a language. You probably don't remember how long it took you to learn the language you speak. But most of us don't start forming coherent sentences until we are at least four years old. That's a lot of practice time. A visual language takes just as much time and commitment. When you become fluent in it, you will be ready to handle the split second decisions necessary to make exceptional photographs.

By putting your heart into your picture making, your eye will follow.

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