Today, more than ever, it seems photographers can’t resist the temptation to chase the photograph. With the digital age and Internet, we now have access to millions of images a day, instead of a few thousand each month, printed on the glossy pages of magazines. We see a stunning image and we instantly think, “I would love to capture an image like that.” One fails when they buy a ticket, hop on a plane, go to the spot, and try to take the photograph they saw, resulting in an empty snap shot or a copy of an iconic image recognized by many.
“It’s the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” ~ Eve Arnold
This past year, I heard a photographer say, “a photograph is only great if my friends think it is great.” I was at a loss of words; those of you, who know me, know this is a rare event! Photography, for me, has always been an intimate experience, a click of a shutter when someone or something has engaged me deeply, a moment that speaks to my soul. I believe, when one photographs for themselves first, the image will engage the viewer on a more intimate level, unless of course, you are shooting strictly for commercial value or just to “impress people.”
Another misconception we allow ourselves to believe is that, if we go to an exotic location, we will capture award-winning photographs, giving no thought to skill level. Through emails, social media, and in person, all too often I hear photographers say they are going to XXXXX, because they want to take photographs like XXXXX, without thinking through the skill level and experience of the photographer who made the image. A great and compelling image can be captured anywhere, if the photographer is engaged with their subject and has the tools to capture their own vision technically. It is not the destination that makes the photograph; it is the photographer who makes the image.
I must confess that, recently, I reacted to the powerful images Jassi created when he was at the Holi Festival this past March. I knew I had to go. However, it was the way he captured intimate moments, beyond the typical throwing of color photographs that drew me in and made me curious about the true meaning behind the festival.
In all the chaos a man is reading from a paper that was kept clean, due to its importance. I am assuming it has religious value, but I am intrigued by what it says and the meaning behind it.
Through the mist of the colors the photographer isolated their subject and was able to make intimate eye contact, which always leads to a powerful image.
This image makes me curious as to what they are discussing in the middle of the madness.
I love the moment of friendship captured in this scene.
I can feel the beat of the drum and the intensity of the drummers
In this image I can feel the soul of the music.
I picked a handful of images to share with you, more can be viewed here, because when I look at this work, I see a photographer completely immersed in the event, drawn into the intimate moments, photographing what he is experiencing, and capturing images from his soul. Images that make me feel like I am there, breathing the dust and hearing the music.
So, I say yes, let beautiful images inspire you and let beautiful images draw you to a place, but don’t go to a place to chase an image. Go to experience the magic and capture your vision of the experience.
Jassi is Indian, intimately understands the stronger meaning behind this extraordinary festival, and has participated in it numerous times. By teaming up with him, our experience will go much deeper than the surface level of photographing flying colors. You are welcome to join us for this magical festival in 2018, an experience beyond the photograph.