Saturday, August 13, 2011

Seeking Stillness

When I go out shooting it is most often by myself. I like the solitude I find in working a scene into an image. Even if I'm on a crowded street I can find myself so completely focused on my subject that I'm unaware of the chaos around me. In those situations I make my image and quickly move on. I don't want to get wrapped up in the social frenzy. I want to get to that next scene that seems to communicate only to me.

One day while shooting in the Financial District on a weekday, I was about to release the shutter when I heard a voice that seemed far away calling "What are you taking a picture of?" It repeated over and over. But I was fixed on my subject and never made the connection between the voice and what I was doing.

After I made the image I lowered the camera, looked over my shoulder and there was a woman in business dress with a brief case looking off in the direction I had been focused on still loudly asking "What are you taking a picture of?" She was right in my face. While I was working I had no sense of her being there except for that little far off voice.

I had no response. I was dazed. I was not at all in her world. I was working my craft as a solitary pursuit much the same way a writer does. I simply turned and walked away. I was shaken and rattled into someone else's reality and I didn't want to be there.

When I'm out on the street working I'm seeking a stillness, an opportunity to find a connection with some interesting aspect of my environment. I'm patient and wait for people or cars to move out of the scene. I'm focused. Sometimes patience and focus aren't enough and I don't make the image. It's something for another day. But persistence in this approach to working usually pays off.

People have said about some of my images that they possess a "timeless quality." I suppose those that do, appear that way because of my efforts to eliminate certain elements that may place the scene in a very specific time. What ever the case may be you can be sure that my images are definitely of the here and now. Maybe it's the stillness that seems to freeze time even more solidly than the fraction of a second it takes to commit the image to film.

Photo: ©2011 David W. Sumner

1 comment:

John W. Wall said...

Dave, you have the soul of a nature photographer even though your subject is civilization. :)