I admit it. I'm just not all that good when it comes to photographing people. Lines, shapes, patterns, colors ... boats, buildings, windows, tableuax - that's my thing - I can take my time and compose to my heart's content. Nothing is moving too fast - or at all.
But people are a lot more dynamic than that, and I find it hard to keep up and catch that decisive moment that divides an interesting people-photo from a not-so-interesting one.
Something I've mentioned several times before in this blog is the wonderful photo workshop I took with Karen Gordon Schulman five years ago. Karen taught us about the special qualities of early morning and late afternoon/early evening light, something I've used again and again in my photos since then.
One thing I remember learning about shooting people from Karen is to look for gesture in the image. A body position, a lean, a pointing with the hand.
Well, walking to work one day along the Inner Harbor waterfront, I came upon a scene that I thought would make for a nice image. There was a device with the politically-incorrect name telescoping-boom man-lift. The machine was adjacent to a big glass wall of the National Aquarium, and there was indeed a man, lifted well into the air on the platform at the end of the boom. He was caulking the large window panes making up the wall.
I liked the abstarct feel of the scene, with the big panes forming a Cartesian background for the chevron-like design element of the man-lift boom and it's reflection. The little bit of color in the man-lift and the man himself added a nice touch, I thought. As I watched, I saw the man lean well to the right while reaching out to caulk a window joint...and there was my gesture.
I composed my shot and waited for him to do it again, which he obligingly did.
National Aquarium, Baltimore
I don't think this photo is one that will ever sell, but I find it very, very satisfying.
So Karen, thanks again! You've been a great teacher, and what I learned from you keeps coming back to me.