In my photo workshops, I talk about looking for patterns in the way you photograph as a means of discovering if you are in a creative rut, or just need to expand the way you’re looking at the world. To those ends, when you a picture presents itself, go ahead and photograph it in whatever way first comes to mind. Then ask yourself, “what else can I do with this?”
In early August, I was in New York City with family thinking about things my kids might enjoy. It occurred to me that, in all the times I’d been in NYC, I’d never been for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. So, off we went.
It’s a nice ride out into New York harbor. You get a fantastic view of the south end of Manhattan, the route passes by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and off in the distance is the Verrazano bridge.
As we came by the Statue of Liberty, everyone was taking pictures, of course…including me. It hit me that I wasn’t really doing anything especially interesting with how I was photographing it. So I stopped and just looked at what was happening and waited for something to inspire me.
I noticed Lady Liberty was reflecting in a window behind me...and so was I! I'm so rarely in our family pictures that I thought it'd be fun if I could turn this into a decent picture.
After a couple of minutes of looking and waiting, this girl walked up near the window. Definitely better, but there was so much glare you could barely see her.
Then...I just got lucky. The photo gods reached down, put a woman with dark hair in just the right place, for just enough time, that I was able to make this picture. One image, and then it was gone.
It’s completely valid to make whatever the “obvious” picture might be for you, when you’re out photographing. I do. If you enjoy photography, though, don’t let your efforts end there. Stop. Take a breath. Then ask yourself, “What else?”