Are you guilty of chasing the photograph?

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.
Holi Ceremony India

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.

Holi Festival India

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.


8 Responses to “Are you guilty of chasing the photograph?”

  1. giovanna

    So wonderfully written Piper. You are so correct in what you have written, I always feel so inspired by you and counting down the months , weeks and then days to when I can be again on another photographic journey with you , Giovanna

    • Piper

      Thank you so much Giovanna. I have been so inspired by the post of your beautiful shop and display of your work!!! I am really looking forward to traveling with you again!

  2. Buzz Parker

    I plead GUILTY !! Your writing really made me think about what I have been trying to do photographically in the past. I really enjoyed your presentation (both times) before our DIG camera club in Phoenix-inspiring !! Buzz Parker

    • Piper

      Yes, I think most of us can plead guilty, but as long as chasing an image is for inspiration of a place where we seek out our own experiences and capture them as we experience them that it is ok. I am glad you enjoyed the presentations!

  3. Nancy Moon

    Hi Piper, I do this too, in fact I have your name on my wish list of workshops to attend for years. I love reading about the experiences you create for the attendees, and yes your photographs are wonderful. I want to be in that festival or in the OMO valley seeing things the way I see things. Thanks for communicating all of this. See you in 2019 😉

    • Piper

      Hello Nancy
      I put a lot of passion in creating unique experience for my participants, which bring incredible photographic opportunities. Each year I work hard to create new itineraries so if not the Turkana Festival or the Omo, perhaps you will join us in a new exciting destination!