There is a professor at my university who, every time he would see me outside of the school events I spent four years photographing, would joke that he didn’t recognize me without a camera in front of my face. Sometimes, I think this is perhaps the way people see me the most. Peeking over the top of a lens.
I forget how obscuring it can be, until I get my photo taken and that photographer’s face disappears behind a big camera. It’s necessary to put the camera down sometimes, to connect with your subject and get them to open up. Particularly in the case of portraits, I try to chat with the subject for a few minutes before I start taking their photo, and then (if it doesn’t distract them from the moment) I continue to peek up and chat with them throughout the assignment. It puts them more at ease, and they get to look you in the face instead of your lens.
The other side of this is that sometimes you can miss quiet moments if you can’t raise your camera fast enough. Photography requires a lot of patience. And I probably wouldn’t have described myself as a patient person too much before this job, but it has really taught me to sit and wait for just the right moment. When a person cracks a smile or they look lovingly at a friend or their face settles into that perfect expression for the moment, that’s what you wait for. And these moments can last only a second before they’re gone. I’ve missed a few lately because I haven’t been as vigilant, but I’ve also had a few frames where the shutter clicked and I knew I’d captured that split second.
Here are a few moments from the last week, some of which I caught as they flew by.
I don’t normally caption this blog, but these last three need a little context. There’s a lot of construction going on for a bridge in Bayonne, a town in the south of Hudson County, and this couple has a house right next to this bridge that leads to Staten Island. They called the paper because they’ve started to notice tiny cracks developing on the walls, door frames and other parts of their house from what they say are the vibrations caused by the construction. Lucia and Dennis gave the reporter and I a full tour of the house, and I’m glad they were unfazed by the camera after I introduced myself and listened to their story for a bit.