An answer to the Plinky Prompt, “What are your favorite things to photograph?”
My favorite things to photograph? How can I limit it? Why should I limit it? Some photographers specialize in one subject or another and become renowned experts in the bargain.
Take Ansel Adams’ work, for instance, or Graham Watson’s. Adams’ landscape images, most of them black and white, are the stuff of legend; he was and still is among the great masters of landscape photography. By contrast, Watson specializes in capturing enduring images of bicycle racing, and mostly in color. I greatly admire the work of each, and for entirely different reasons. Adams worked with what most would now, by comparison, call “Neanderthal” photographic equipment and he likely labored harder than today’s average photographer to get to where he needed to go with his bulky, heavy equipment. On the other hand, Watson is our contemporary and has the advantage of lighter digital equipment and easier transportation, but he’s still a master of what he does — several steps above most photographers.
But I’m not a specialist by instinct or practice — not in photography or almost anything I do. Meticulous planning and execution are great attributes with big rewards. But serendipity has its place, too, and seems to fit quite well on the “uncut” side of the camera lens. Where photography is concerned, I love a good surprise or unexpected sighting.
I don’t search for it, else it wouldn’t be serendipitous, would it? But when it happens along, “chance” can be so rewarding in its uniqueness, its character, it’s ability to warm the emotions and the spirit to create a lasting memory.
Almost anything, as long as it has vibrant color and/or strong contrasts (e.g., b&w), exciting action, or some inherent beauty, is a subject ripe for the photographer’s eye. Those qualifiers encompass a wide range of easy-to-find photo subjects — human faces, landscapes, kids at play, animals at work or play, birds, flowers and insects, seascapes, sports, human surprise and happiness. Capturing the image — and capturing it well — requires a combination of timing, just the right light, and a bit of luck thrown in. After all, if what you are shooting appears or occurs when you’re NOT there or not ready, then you don’t capture the moment.
Consider the image in this piece, photographic evidence of human life in one of its early stages of development. Notice the stark contrasts, the uniqueness of the life-sustaining environment, the vivid colors and unusual shapes. See the tail? Doesn’t it almost look like a stinger?!
Is this image the result of the photographer’s planning and execution? Perhaps. Serendipity? Perhaps, too. The photographer could have planned diligently to capture an image of this particular baby, but the baby could have turned its back at just the “wrong” moment.
In either event, what a dramatic, endearing, inspiring and enduring image — forever on “film”! Maybe this embryo, with what appears to be an eye trained on its own tail, is another photographer — a great photographer of the future — waiting to be born, to find its own favorite and unique things to photograph.
Carpe diem. Vita brevis!
© May 5, 2011, by Michael E. Stubblefield. All rights reserved. Photo courtesy of Plinky.com