By John Enman
Last week a photographer friend I haven’t seen for over a year stopped by my shop to say hello. We talked and I asked him how he’s been, and as I always do, what camera he is using and if he has been doing any photography?
His answer was, “No, I just haven’t been into it. I haven’t been travelling and there’s nothing interesting around here.”
Years ago when I taught photography at The University College of the Cariboo (now TRU) I often would make a snap assignment for my students to walk or drive around their neighbourhood and take pictures. I would say I wanted at least two 8×10 prints from them. They could photograph anything at any time.
Then the complaints would start, “There is nothing worth photographing”, or “My neighbourhood is boring”, and so on. My goal was to get them out and force them to try something new with their camera.
Photography is more than just selecting the “P” mode and hastily pointing a camera at a scene with the hopes that the final image might somehow be interesting to some viewer.
I again asked my friend what camera he is using. Most photographers I have met like to talk about their cameras. Asking about a photographer’s camera is a good way for me to get to, “You should just get out and make some pictures.”
When he left my shop he promised to come back and show me some pictures.
The hot weather finally cooled a bit last Wednesday and as I relaxed with a beer on my front porch in the late afternoon I thought about my suggestion to my friend. I had been lazy all day and it never takes much to get me wandering around with my camera.
I should have been putting away all the cameras and lenses that were sitting on my kitchen table unusable. I have been testing cameras that came into my store and charging batteries in my personal cameras. There were also two macro flash units that have been there for a of couple weeks.
I usually don’t eat at the table unless I have guests, but I should put those cameras away, butt my camera was sitting there waiting for me to do a quick photo-drive around my own neighbourhood.
Yep, it never takes much to get me wandering around with my camera. I drove down to the river, along a field with bailed hay and back up the road to circle up and back down past my home. I have been photographing my neighbourhood for many years. As I passed a house with trees and trucks in the front yard I remembered how I once photographed a young girl riding her horse. I didn’t know where she lived, but I made a B&W 8×10 print for her that was in my car for months before I saw her again. Now after many years she has moved back to the house her parents once lived in, and I just found out she has a granddaughter. I have been photographing my neighbourhood for a while now and I expect to continue for a few more years.
As I write this I am thinking it has been a long time since I have photographed the street my shop is on. I think I’ll talk my friend Drew into doing a photo walk with me. I just got a 17-35mm lens in my shop that will fit his Canon 5D that needs testing. I don’t need an excuse, but Drew might.
Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week.
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