05 October, 2007

3.2 Seconds

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to meet two great professionals. The first, Jay Dickman, a Pulitzer prize winning National Geographic photographer and master storyteller, and the second, Jay Kinghorn, a literal digital photography guru. They were opening their limited show at the John Jellico Gallery at the Art Institute of Colorado, which had begun using their new book Perfect Digital Photography as one of the primary texts for incoming photography students. Now, I haven't had the time to completely go through the book, but from what I have seen it is not arrogant to call title the way it is. The author's skill sets compliment each other completely as the text goes through the process of taking a picture. I say process because that is what it is. Sure, anybody can click the shutter, but as Jay Dickman put it, it takes a lot more to make someone spend more than the 3.2 seconds most people give to an image. Now I may have gotten the numbers mixed up (I've also been told 20 seconds), but stop and think about how long do you look at a picture in a magazine before you flip the page? Do you think that the images that you linger on were really and truly taken with very little planning?
One of the best things about the Jay Dickman's talk was how he described the way he told a story. This really resonated with me because that is what I really consider myself: a visual storyteller. It's what I want to be. His explanation of how you put together a photo essay made so much sense, yet I had never really thought of it in that way before. Even as we talked at the reception, he did nothing but inspire me. And of course, when he asked me what I wanted to be doing 10 years from now I drew a blank. That's a consitent problem with me, nowing here I am in the moment, but in the distant future, things get a little foggy, but we're getting off topic.
Talking with Jay Kinghorn was pretty much the same way. He really emphasized and reinforced Jay Dickman's comments (see, just like I said about their book) about how the great images, the ones that move you and inspire you are all previsualized before the lenscap is even removed. Yes, there is an element of "right place at the right time," but on the same token, it took a little bit of planning to put yourself in the right place at the right time. I'll admit, that I end up more lucky than anything, but on occasion I'll see the perfect location and I'll wait for just the right moment to come along and the picture will be exactly what I envisioned.
As a side note, I just got around to getting my film scanned this morning, so with any luck, I'll be able to post some new pictures in a couple of days.

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