Capturing the Moment

Garry Winogrand‘s perfectly timed photo reminds me of the day I was photographing on the street and captured an unusual moment similar to his. See my image below Winogrand’s.

 

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Some of the” first impression” feedback I’ve received on my image above is that I caught this guy just as he fell, crashing to the ground, as in he’s fallen from a building. I admit it does look like that at first glance. In reality he was heading my direction with his companions, suddenly stopping on the sidewalk right in front of me, where I was standing in an alcove, and started breakdancing – one reason the image lacks clarity – the element of surprise! Rather than delete the image because it wasn’t sharp, I focused on the authenticity of moment. It is one of my favorite street photography images.

Photographer Eric Kim writes: ”

If you want to get a deeper insight into street photography and take better photos, I feel it is very important to study the work of the street photographers who came before us and paved the way for the rest of us. Not only that, but reading the quotes and words by these influential street photographers is a great way to train your mind to take better photos as well. Below are some of my favorite street photography quotes that are concise, inspirational, and have influenced me in one way or another.”

“I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.” – Bruce Gilden

After he unwound his tangled limbs and hopped up off the pavement, I got to know something about him, not as a subject but as a person. His name is Wanderer. He has a son by the name of Madison. He and his friends travel by box car around the country hopping off at towns along the way to leave their mark on the world – graffiti. I instantly liked him and his gang, who at first looked intimidating, but in reality turned out to be really sweet guys who shared a common passion. They were in no hurry to rush off, but hung around with me for a while talking with me about themselves as though we were friends reconnecting after a long absence and catching up. I suppose that to them, I was one of many people across the country that create a sense of community for  them wherever they go… one moment at a time, connected by thousands of miles of track.


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Moments – Obstacle Turned into Opportunity

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Sequin, Texas 2011 – In the fall of 2011 I was teaching four subjects in a Texas middle school. The one I enjoyed the most also offered unique challenges. That class was 6th grade fine arts; which encompassed visual art, drama and music.  I was so excited to teach that class because I love those subjects; the job was made for me.  My feet barely touched the ground, until reality set in.  It turns out that there were many obstacles in my way.  One of those obstacles was that I had nearly no supplies.   I was left agonizing over how to teach music without instruments.  I had no trouble teaching visual art and theater arts, using minimal art supplies.  For music I knew I wanted to have the students make their own instruments, but I was at a loss as to just how I would do this.  I wanted to build instruments that would be fun, unique and offer interesting challenges for this age group.

The answer came to me unexpectedly over Thanksgiving break.  I liked to relax on Sundays with a wonderful weekly TV show called “Texas Country Reporter” with Bob Phillips.  That day Phillips was interviewing a colorful gentleman who built cigar box guitars.  I had never heard of cigar box guitars before, and leaned closer to the TV, entranced by every word.  I had found my solution!  I spent the following weeks educating myself on cigar box guitar construction.  I built one and shared it with my students, who absolutely loved it.  The added bonus was that it offered a teaching opportunity to explore the instrument’s link to American history.

Unexpectedly, cigar box guitar building took on a life of its own.  After I left teaching, I continued to build guitars and sell them.  Some are even owned by performing musicians.  Ultimately, though, it helped to motivate me to pursue my dreams of creating art; both in a visual and a musical form.  I have gone on to reconnect with my creative side, long held dormant. I am growing as a musician and as an artist and crafts person.  I don’t know what is in store for me next on this journey, but it has helped me to meet some wonderful people, develop my creative potential and bring music back into my life.

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Cynthia playing an original song titled “Just Trippin” one of her cigar box guitars, which was made from an Oliveros box – sanded, stained and steampunked.

Here’s the cigar box ukulele that Cynthia created especially for me with a maritime theme. More about Dinan cigar box creations at Cigar Box Nation and on Facebook.

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Moments Contributor – Cynthia Dinan from  Sequim, Washington. She has worked as an educator, a luthier and now designs and builds custom cigar box guitars and ukuleles.

How many stories in an ordinary moment?

 

 

Everywhere we go, everywhere we look, there is so much more to what we see than we can take in, process, and remember. Life is made of stories. Even in an ordinary moment such as this, there is more than one subject. We observe that there are children in the foreground, people milling about in the background. They are in a certain place , all doing different activities, looking different directions. There are hints about who they are by who they are with, what they are doing, what they carry with them or have near them.

I know for a fact that the bicycle belongs to Cape Cleare Salmon; it is one way they deliver fresh salmon around town. I can tell you that this is a farmers market, and that the girls are listening to music. I overheard they are visiting with family from California, and they don’t want the sun to come out. I can tell you that this photo was taken in a town in the Pacific Northwest. The rest is now left up to your imagination… isn’t that what we mostly do when we people-watch.

With a photo, we capture a moment but give ourselves as many opportunities as we wish to look and reflect upon it again. If it’s a image with people, like this one, we have time to find more clues as to who we think they are , that is, how we chose to think of them based on the information we gather. One of the best outcomes is to learn more about ourselves, how we process visual information that comes through our eye-gate, even our other senses of smell and hearing, and our perceptions of those we encounter or view in a photograph.

As “ordinary” as this black and white image is… we can find one story or more stories, and with a little imagination craft an interesting one.

 

Here’s an image from my collection of street photography. What’s your first impression? Look again. One or more stories possible? Now what does your imagination beg you to write about these guys walking down the street?

 

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“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt