Sometimes 85% of Photography is Just Showing Up!

Posted on September 1, 2008

Central Park - Snow Monkey 

I took the above picture last October, in the Central Park Zoo. If I had to name the expression on his face, I’d go with: “irony”.

In the year or so that I’ve had the time (and resources) to pursue photography a bit more seriously, I’d have to say that the above shot is one of my all-time favorites. Not so much because of the actual picture (though I like it a lot), as because of the lessons I learned while taking it.

It made me think of the famous photojournalist maxim – “f/8 and be there.” It’s all too easy to lose sight of that simple truth, especially in the wake of today’s technological sophistication. And that day, I was prepared – I brought my tripod, camera, and a rented lens worth at least one of my paychecks. Not to mention filters, extra batteries, flash – you get the idea.

Still, my first few shots were terrible. Sure they were properly exposed, technically solid – but they seemed to be missing that something which separates a tourist’s snapshot from a true moment captured in time.

And so I learned – as a photographer, you can actually be there without being there – knowing, observing, and identifying with your subject, whether it’s a curious monkey or a quiet landscape. In a sense, it’s the eye merging with the viewfinder, letting the camera become an extension of ourselves. Only then will you know when your Kodak moment’s arrived.

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