Thursday, July 10, 2008
On Not Seeing
I have been thinking about my experience in San Francisco, not so much about teaching the workshop but about the walk abouts we scheduled as part of the workshop. While spending much of the time helping others see, I was on the prowl for images too.
In hind sight, two things have become apparent.
1) I saw all sorts of images in this foreign city (to me) that I don't see at home, and
2) In San Francisco, I had absolutely no hesitation in asking anyone if I could take their picture, where here I'd feel foolish and shy.
It's all very well saying that San Francisco was full of lovely 1890's houses well preserved and beautifully painted - but I saw images in ordinary houses, like the one above, and in routine details. At home, I am so used to seeing these and accepting them as background to my life, I don't in fact see them as subject matter.
As a tourist, I had no issue with asking to take a picture of someone. I suppose it's that if I made a fool of myself I wouldn't be around for long - but that certainly isn't what I was thinking - it just seemed like as someone visiting the city, I could play the tourist and happily snap away.
Calgary has a population of 1 million, so it isn't likely I'd meet someone I know while out shooting, but somehow it feels more intrusive at home, turning on one's own.
Does anyone else find that being elsewhere changes the way you see and photograph?