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Breathing Through The Lens….

Aug 27

In Uncategorized at 6:39am


When asked, I’ve occasionally described shooting pictures, for me, as being akin to breathing. Something I just have to do. I accept the fact that there are many interruptions in the photographic breathing process that would not be tolerated or fortunate if they occurred in the natural breathing process, but suffice it to say, drawing air creatively and physically is very important to me, as they are to anyone who ever picks up a camera with serious intent.

So when I get the hiccups with my pictures, it gets me down. I spent two weeks recently getting a story off the ground for Nat Geo, and it was stressful, as always, in the photographic sense. This one was extremely stressful because of the physical risk involved. Thankfully, I had angels on my shoulders, and stayed safe, and managed some good frames along the way. My editor hasn’t seen it yet, so I may be apprised differently about these alleged good frames, but for now, for me, the pix are good to go. (Bill, my friend and editor, has a favorite phrase for pictures of mine that go away permanently during the edit process. He’ll say, “This one’s going to Toledo, Joe,” even if I argue vociferously for its’ inclusion. He tends to dispatch these unfortunate frames that will never, ever see the light of day, or the glow of a computer screen, or, God forbid, ink on paper with a malicious little chuckle and rueful “What exactly were you thinking?” kind of tilt of the head. As I always say, apologies to folks in Toledo, cause there’s evidently a suburb out there filled with my shitty pictures.)

Left that job, and had one day off before coming to Maine, where I’m winding down now after two weeks of teaching. Those damn days off. I think it was during that 24 hour period somebody let the air out of the tire. I mean, I’ve been teaching well, with good energy, but I couldn’t buy a picture over the last couple weeks. Last week, even my demo pictures on the first day of the class sucked. (A new low!)

So this week I was kind of determined to get something I could, for a moment, anyway, hang my photographic hat on. Luckily, Tom Sommo, a terrific young dancer, was modeling for my class, and for a demo, I lit up the boiler room in an old school. (The lights are out in the parking lot, for the most part.) Only shot 6 or 7 jumps, and I missed the mark on most of them, but did get a frame I like.

Amazing what just getting a decent picture can do for your spirits. He’s actually physically expressing through his dance what I needed to do at that moment, photographically. Get my eye into the camera, take a leap, make a picture. Breathing easier. More tk….

63 Responses to “Breathing Through The Lens….”

Eric says:

on August 28, 2009 at 8:10 pm

As usual Joe, great shot with a good story for desert.

Gail says:

on August 29, 2009 at 10:40 pm

It’s heartening to know you have bad picture moments too. It makes me feel better knowing it isn’t just me.

Megan Bean says:

on August 29, 2009 at 11:02 pm

It was an honor to witness Joe creating this shot. Believe me folks, this is a dark, dreary, and probably highly toxic location. With a touch of magic, Joe transformed it into a place of euphoric energy. Wow. (PS. When in doubt, don’t forget to pack a smoke machine).

Baine Carruthers says:

on August 30, 2009 at 9:31 am

I’ve never made it to Toledo but I look forward to spedning some time there, especially now that I know of the remnants to be found. Surely there’s much to learn from.

All one needs is to have the vision and to persevere, no matter if others see what we see. You realize that we can’t make others see but we can be a positive example as you are, and it makes no difference at what level we play : ) It’s a game where the ones with faith and vision come to know everlasting life.

And yes “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and he delivers them” It always pays to know where the good things come from.

Have a great day – you’ve made mine


J. Matt Buchanan says:

on August 31, 2009 at 8:49 am

Joe -

I live in Perrysburg, a suburb of Toledo. We’d love to have your rejected frames. Send as many as you’d like.


Joseph Rowland says:

on August 31, 2009 at 9:57 am

Would love if you could include your famous lighting diagram scribbles with these images, so that I can feebly attempt to recreate and understand :-) As always, love your stuff.

Rich Charpentier says:

on August 31, 2009 at 10:26 am

Great photo, great story! Been following your blog for a little while now, and I’m glad to not be alone when it comes to “off” weeks.

Looks like your off week is over. Thanks for sharing such a cool image!

Denyse Conrad says:

on August 31, 2009 at 7:33 pm

I was there, in Maine, an attendee! Cool beans! Joe created this image on day two of a week long workshop, just another lighting demo (ho hum). You can imagine how jazzed we all were! Needless to say, the rest of Joe’s demos yielded similarly impressive results.
The cool thing was, he demystified the process, in a most generous, candid, and always entertaining way. I’m sure I speak for everyone in saying we enjoyed the week immensely, and gained a measure of confidence in our lighting capabilities. You rock, Joe!

Chris says:

on August 31, 2009 at 8:16 pm

A compelling image, and great reflections.
Congratulations on shooting for National Geographic! That would be a dream.

dawn kish says:

on September 2, 2009 at 5:08 pm

that shot rocks!…i’m having the same problem lately…my photos just suck…when i looked at this one it makes me want to rock the camera…a little hope goes a long way…thanks buddy!

Ani says:

on September 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Ealier this year I attended one of the seminars in Cologne for the Nikon Solutions when you talked about photography, what makes a photographer tick and some basic, but highly inspiring philosophy.
Back then I found myself agreeing to almost every sentence. (probably all of em once I get 30 years of experience under my belt ;) )
This post really reminded me of those words. And again I’m amazed to see how similar everyone’s experience is to my own.
Thanks for always finding a unique way of describing the undescribable! ;)

Mick says:

on September 9, 2009 at 1:41 am

Damn! I wish I had taken this one of Tom instead of the one I took.
Great photo, Joe! Thanks…and Keep Breathing!
ps. BTW your demos the first week weren’t as bad as you make them out to be.

yuga says:

on September 10, 2009 at 12:53 am

saavadi in tamil language means perfect!!!!!
gud shot….amazed with dat
thanx joe for being unique

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