Gary Descending Staircase, Parc de Sceaux

While it’s Monday morning as I write this, this may not be posted until later, as I’m currently at 35,000 in the air feet on my way to the tropics for a shoot. I apologize if I’m late. Today, I’m posting a favorite picture that conjures up for me three different things.

First, I have found that when I am able to let go the most, my pictures are the best. This was shot in Paris, at an old building on the grounds of a French Royal Garden called Parc de Sceaux.  We had shot for about an hour upstairs.  We were just leaving and as I saw the model, dressed in a robe, descending this beautiful staircase. I asked him to run down the stairs once more.  I snapped a few frames.  It couldn’t have taken longer than a couple of minutes, and it ended up my favorite picture from the whole shoot. If I keep my eyes open, and my sense of awareness keen, good things will come from it.

Second, this picture helps me explore the philosophical, or even psychological aspect of the way I shoot.  Many of my pictures look carefully planned out; however, as I’ve illustrated above, it is often the spontaneity of the moment that creates great photographs.  For this reason, I do not shoot Polaroids, and I do not shoot digitally. Many photographers, in order to please the client shoot in-camera polaroids as a way of confirming they have the picture.  For me, this drains the shoot of spontaneity and mystery. The same goes for on camera displays in digital photography.  I appreciate film for the mystery, and I’ve used the same films all my photographic life: Kodak Plus-X and Tri-X.

One thing I really love about being a photographer is the fact that you can play with perceptions of reality. People have a certain concept of reality: gravity makes objects fall; fire burns; running encompasses certain qualities. The camera can slightly play with this perception of reality. As I’ve never been sure of what is real or not real, this has always been appealing to me.

I think this clicked for me when I first read Kierkegaard.  He talked about the Leap of Faith, a moment in time where one must leap off a precipice and act on faith and trust. I guess this is where people are able to say “I believe.” I’ve never been able to do this. I’ve never been able to leave the real world and believe in a supernatural one.  On the other hand, I’ve always been willing to use a camera and play with reality.

The last thing this picture conjures up is the spirit of romance.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s just the location.  Maybe it’s the spirit of the picture. Maybe it’s the movement. Maybe it’s the altitude of this flight. But it seems ethereal and otherworldly. This spirit of romance is totally lacking in most contemporary photography. The vernacular in which most photographer work –be it the landscapes they shoot, the locations they choose, the clothing they select, or the attitude of the subjects—is quite distant, cold, and unappealing to me.  It usually connotes neither a time nor a place that I would like to know or live.

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