The comments on my last post brought up something I hadn’t originally thought of in the context of photographing archaeological sites: the joy of discovery. In photography, and life in general, we live in a world of guidebooks, whether it be a guidebook to the greatest photo location, or a step-by-step instruction guide to being able to make agave nectar-glazed salmon just like that guy on TV. The idea of “winging it” seems to be out of style. Many thanks to Jackson and Guy for getting me thinking about the joy of discovery a bit more.
I recently looked through my personal favorite images from the last few years. What I found was that most of my favorites–the ones that have stood the test of time (in my eyes, at least)–are the ones scenes I did not expect to find. I think sometimes photographers put too much pressure on themselves to get “the shot” of “that icon” that they fail to see beauty as they walk past it. Thus, going for a walk with no expectations can lead to very inspired and personal photography.
“In the depths of our darkness there is no one place for Beauty. The whole place is for Beauty.”
–René Char, Leaves of Hypnos, 1946
One of my greatest sins as a photographer is saying, “I don’t want to shoot there, there are prettier places.” Beauty is indeed all around us. As a photographer’s personal style develops, an “eye for beauty” should develop along with the requisite technical skills. I think this eye for composition and learning to simplify and single out the important aspects of a scene is one of the greatest if not most difficult skills to master.
In seeking this beauty out, the ability to discover and recognize it in the most unexpected of places is perhaps the best gift there is.
Out of chaos comes elegance and grace.