Friday, November 11, 2016

The Shots We Miss are the Shots We Don't Take

The day after the election I needed a break from all the vitriol on social media. I recently came across some old pictures that my dad took. He had his pictures appear in Stars and Stripes, The Chicago Tribune, Playboy, Marshall Fields, Carson Pirie Scott, various galleries in the cities of Chicago and Dallas and other places in his career. 

I wondered what treasures awaited. I knew his work. He trained me. I have studied his albums. I know his style and sometimes I emulate it. These were different. They were of my mother from back when they were dating. She was breathtaking and he was in love. It showed. It came through. His usual sense of composition and lighting took way to something else. The lens was an extension of his soul. 

I knew it. I felt it. It was raw and honest and it was different from anything else he ever took. I only remember the fighting and the end. Not this side of him. 

He had a whole albums worth of these. One shoot. Film. Film cost money. He had to have used ten rolls. He developed his own negatives, prints and slides. That was time. 

I realized that even in this age of digital I had never invested that time and effort into one subject and never with that level of raw and real emotion. 

Had I never loved?

No. I had. And something hit me when I saw them. 

There was a woman I had dated briefly and we spent the day north of the city. One of the spots we went to was Glencoe, Il. I had brought my camera. I was grossly out of practice and I was shooting in manual and the Pentax was in need of a good cleaning. 

During the day I had stopped being self absorbed. I was immersed and present. I was not distracted. I listened as opposed to waited for my turn to speak. Every moment was wonder and it was the beginning of love. Those are the moments that we do not realize when they are happening, but we know them later. 

I had taken some pictures that had the same level of rawness that I recognize. Sure the composition and use of natural lighting was not perfect. Currently, I am shooting better than I ever have and it is not because of the upgrade in equipment, it is because I am organic again and not overthinking. 

These were raw and passionate and true. These were real and honest and the camera was forgotten because it was a part of my soul. 

I do guilt very well. In that brief relationship I was usually self absorbed and had one foot out the door. Most of the time my brain was somewhere else and I was constantly sad and a little lost. I was never present and I was living in a past full of ghosts that were long gone but haunted me because I allowed them to. It was rather like driving down the road of life looking in the rear view mirror.

But not this day. This day I was present. This moment I was there and I was fascinated and arrested and fully immersed. 

My father once told me when we were shooting together in abandoned oil fields in West Texas , "Son, the shots we miss are the shots we don't take. There will be moments that you will need to forget the f-stop and the shutter speed and the composition. You will have to say to hell with the rule of thirds and just let your heart and the camera become one. When that happens, just fire the release with every beat of your heart. Let your breath be taken away by something or someone and what you do will be breathtaking."

There is a time for thought. There is a time to reflect and think. There is also a time to be immersed in the moment. 

I have not allowed that in the past. I have two choices. I can lament or I can learn. I have chosen to learn. That is all any of us can do. Learn, grow, and let the heart have it's say.

Not everyone is a photographer. Not everyone has a romantic outing with someone. We all have beautiful moments in life and we will have more. In those moments, stay in them , live in them. Make the most of them so you have nothing to regret or ponder, just a treasured memory. If you miss something, do not beat yourself up over it. Those are shots you missed because you did not take them. You do not get to have those moments given back to you. You just have new moments in life to seize.

Go seize some beauty, take the shot, and let every beat of your heart guide the release. 


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