Seeing Through Their Eyes

When I returned to photography, I had the perfect project fall into my hands.  The project, which eventually evolved into a self-published book, involved documenting Marian's year of preparation for Ironman U.S.A.

At first, she was surprised that much of the time I wanted to photograph her back.  But for this book, in addition to documenting her achievement, I wanted the book to be about triathlon itself.

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DSC_3992 - Training Run

In portraiture I like to see into your eyes.  But there are times when I want to see through your eyes.

The easiest example is an image which tries to evoke a feeling that the subject is solitary.  If the subject is looking you in the eye, there is communication, and the subject is definitely not alone.

The photograph of Marian on a training run serves as a perfect example.  While there is a lot about the photo that I wish was better, it cannot be denied that this is a photograph of a person in a solitary pursuit.  The road stretches out, and for quite a distance, and there is no one else.  (Perhaps the waterbottle belt suggest the solitary need to be resourceful.)

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I love this shot.  It was a lucky grab, just before the day started at summer camp.  Everything works.  The light is very much a summer morning.  The feet are perfect, both for the girl who is drinking and the girl who is waiting.  And the variety of reds in the image works very well, too.

That photograph is a photograph about solitary endeavour and only secondarily about Marian.

In a similar vein, look at my favourite photograph of the two little girls at the water fountain.  This is a photograph about childhood and only secondarily about the two little girls. 

I am still struck with disbelief when I recall the comments made by one judge in a competition.  The judge just didn't like the photograph, seeing the shot as stolen.  She would have been happier if the girls' faces could be seen.  (That would have made a cute shot, I'm sure, but would have seriously detracted from the mood of the summertime ritural at the water fountain.)

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To me, the light and mood of this shot evoke the most pleasant of skiing memories.  Non-skiers may not totally appreciate this shot.  You have to take my word for it, the light is perfect, as is the skier's posture.

When I think of that judge's reaction, I have to admit that sometimes people just cannot relate to a shot.  The photography of my little skier is a good example.  People who are serious skiers have a strong positive reaction to this shot.  The lighting is perfect, the posture of the subject is perfect.  Just looking at the picture puts you on snow on a late February afternoon.  But it is also probably true that to those who don't have the experience this photograph is pretty close to meaningless.

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I see a wonderful sense of well-being in this photograph.  This was an incidental shot taken after a couple of hours in the park. 

Of course, my picture of the little boy mounting the step is the clinching argument that sometimes you need to be out of the subject's view.  In the subject's view, there might be the suggestion that he is showing off, or performing a task requested of him.  In this shot, however, there is a solitary quality which validates the perception that this little guy has personally decided to achieve something.

Incidentally, that photograph, titled as Confidence, was given a first prize by the same panel of judges.  I guess that this goes to prove that stolen shots can have punch, too.

Posted October 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm.