If you’ve even remotely followed my work over the years, you probably know that I hardly ever photograph people of any age. I think it has a lot to do with photography being a very internalized process for me. Any instructions needed to be given are done for me, to me, and by me all within my mind.
I rarely speak when I’m on a shoot and admittedly get frustrated when I’m broken out of being “in the zone.” So, when you put a camera in my hand and place a model on the business end of my lens, things go awry quickly because I get into my zone and assume that everyone around me is capable of reading my mind and my instructions. So far, this assumption has yet to be proven as real. Go figure. In all seriousness though, I know that I’m more than capable of photographing people. It’s just that through all of my travels, I’ve learned that I prefer photographing them candidly, when they’re still unaware of my presence—or more importantly, my camera.
Despite all of these whiny excuses I just gave you, I’m very fortunate to have one of the most adorable nieces on the planet and her name is Ashlyn. Last year, Nicole and I were visiting her family in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was just as the Autumn season started showing its face and one of our plans was to take Ashlyn and her three siblings to a local farm that was decked out for Halloween. There were slides, little trolley rides, and—of course—a haunted house. But, our first stop was the pumpkin patch. You could imagine the dearth of pumpkin patches in Brooklyn (where I grew up), so this was my first time seeing one.
The photographer inside me instantly lit up at the prospect of having all of those bright orange pumpkins serving as my background, especially because I was using a very fast Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens on my Sony a7R II. I was also lucky because I had such an easygoing model with my niece and I daresay she worked brilliantly with the instructions I managed to blurt out. After a few minutes, Ashlyn would run off, so I’d adapt to her new position and throw one or two quick instructions. Sometimes she’d comply and other times, she’d keep doing whatever it is that little girls do in pumpkin patches. I had my wins and my losses and after a bit of this back and forth, I felt a sense of comfort practicing a type of photography I had always gone to great lengths to avoid.
In the end, I now look fondly at this photo and use it as a reminder that excuses really are only that. All you need is to grab your camera, get out there, and do.