Even though most of us don’t get a “school’s out for summer” kind of break any more, the warm weather and long days still make summer special. We get outside more, gather with friends, and — if we’re lucky — maybe visit a place away from home. I always look forward to trips and vacations as an excuse to take lots of pictures. But I notice that my taste in subjects has changed over time.
I really like photographs with people in them. Or creatures. Even people and creatures I don’t know.
It used to be that I would go to great lengths to be sure I didn’t have any strangers in my shots. I would wait patiently and compose carefully so I got the picture-postcard image of whatever landmark I was shooting. But those images don’t interest me much anymore. Yes, they prove I was there and saw that thing, but that’s it. Now I like images that have more personality. And that comes from people.
And it’s true that I wish I could go to exotic places to take pictures of exotic people — in India or Egypt or Kenya or Peru. I follow the blogs of some amazing photographers who make those places come alive for me. But guess what? There are people everywhere.
So this summer I resolve to get out and about with my camera on a personal photo safari in my own back yard. I may send out some spontaneous shout-outs to see if anyone wants to come with me. It’s always fun to have a buddy.
As the World Cup winds down, I remember this moment from 2006 when the girls and I were in New York. World Cup fever was everywhere, including under this bridge on the Brooklyn side.
And in the past year I have joined some photo tours run by Light Fantastic. Gale Perry is a wonderful guide who doesn’t hesitate to invite local folks to be part of the fun. Here she convinced a man-on-the-street to become a living part of this mural in the Mission District of San Francisco.
And later that same day we heard music and followed the sound to a schoolyard where a Cuban conga drum band was practicing. The mural-covered walls provided both an echo chamber for the beat and a colorful, interesting background for photographs. Gale signaled to the bandleader and got his nodded permission for us to enjoy the music and take pictures. It was a perfect, spontaneous experience. It’s hard to pick just one image to show you, but I’ll choose this one.
Then there was the moment on the Santa Barbara pier where we watched two young fisherman valiantly trying to protect their catch from some pretty brazen pelicans. I caught this moment of stand-off.
This kind of shooting helps me hone my skills as a portrait photographer. And it’s just fun.
Next week I’m off to Twain Harte for the annual Buchanan/Armstrong clan gathering. That means lots and LOTS of photographs. But when I get back, I’ll start this personal photography project in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area.
I mean it.