I tell my students that photographs can be reduced to light, lines, and moments. Everything else is derivative.The more I study photographs from the past century — the incredibly short lifespan of our art so far — the more convinced I am that everything’s been photographed, that our challenge now is to manipulate light, lines, and moments in the frame in a way that expresses our unique view of those so oft-photographed subjects.
I often find myself resonating with the writings of photographer David Duchemin in his books and on his blog, but this quote in particular really hit home.
Don’t you find yourself thinking sometimes that everything has been photographed — and way better than you can do it — so what’s the point exactly?
Well, as Duchemin says, it has. So I find it incredibly helpful to think in terms of light, lines and moments when I have my camera with me and we’re meditating together on what we see.
It is a rare, rare thing when they all come together — light, lines and the moment — but once in a blue moon they might — and you have yourself an image that speaks louder than any words.
This image is one of those for me. When I was photographing at the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, a young woman busker in a medieval-type dress with a tousle-haired toddler pulling at her skirts moved into the archway facing the staircase to start singing.
She had the voice of an angel. I think she was singing Gregorian chant because the words were not intelligible to me, but that didn’t matter. It was a moment when time stopped. I raised my camera to my eye and clicked.
This image, which is now framed on my wall, brings it all back every time I raise my eyes to look at it.