What makes a good photo? Is it razor sharp focus? It is amazing color?
I love the days of travel photographers roaming through some wild country side in central Asia or North Africa capturing whatever they can on 36 exposure rolls in their 35mm cameras. If a photographer in Africa was being chased by an elephant through the jungle he did what he had to do to take that shot and thought in the moment and when he/she was safe and sound back in the studio developing photos it didn’t matter if the focus was a little soft or if was just a little underexposed.
I find that it is these photos that trigger something inside us that show us that we are all human, in a world full of airbrushed and photoshopped images, a gritty photo cuts through all the noise that is filled with “perfect” images. i like the sense of urgency in a photo that is a bit blurry. I am not saying its ok that a photographer produces less than quality work, but it doesn’t always have to be a half step short of a magazine cover photo.
Well I can’t say I have ever been chased by an elephant but i have had to deal with a less than perfect shot to portray the perfect moment. The example I am talking about today was on a trip through Normandy, France. In my opinion, Normandy is one of the most beautiful countrysides in the world. The family farms there are all divided by these ancient hedgerows that have grown thick and strong over hundreds of years. They are so thick, they were known to sometimes stop German tanks from moving forward during WWII. Well, many of these farms raise horses and are free to roam throughout these farms that are protected by these thick hedgerows. I was traveling at dusk in a coach driven by a very cranky English man who was not interested at all in stopping to let me take photos. Lucky for me, it is very hard to drive fast on these thin winding back roads of Normandy, so I was able to snap some photos through the windows of the coach.
After turning a corner, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a fine specimen of a horse had taken interest in our coach, I could only barely see him through the hedgerow but as we started to speed off he galloped along with us. After a couple tries, I was able to capture this:
I was so astounded by the horse’s conviction, he continued to follow us and caught our driver’s attention, well even the cold exterior of the brit was melted away and he actually slowed to stop as we came to a larger opening to get a better look at our friend.
As we came to the opening, I was surprised to see that he had been joined by a friend who were both looking at us very curious. I don’t blame them though, we were in a very big bus on a very small road. Before we left again I snapped this one:
Though, neither of these shots are great, helped me tell my story and from this leg of the trip, these are definitely some of my favorite images that I took. I will treasure having these forever because I know I was there, I know what I saw and it helps depict what it was that I was seeing at the time. The light was fading fast and I could barely see the horses during that last photo but because of the wonderful advances in photo manipulation I was able to pull out enough detail to see what I was trying to portray.
Don't ever be afraid of a less than great photo; photos are meant to tell a story, and if they do that, mission accomplished.
Stay tuned for more!