June 24, 2009

To Shoot, or Not to Shoot: That is the Question

At a recent American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Greenfield, Massachusetts, I had brought a full bag of camera gear, ready to thoroughly cover the fundraising event for my different stock agencies. Once on-site, however, I decided instead to participate just as a cancer survivor and as a mentor to my photography students documenting the occasion. To simply be at the event, soak it in, rather than take pictures.

As the evening wore on, I remembered that I did need to shoot students in action for my school's website. Above, a student connects with a three-time survivor. Below, documenting a volunteer lighting a luminara. The luminara honor those touched by cancer.

I knew I had my shots, but now, camera in hand, I starting seeing photos everywhere. I instinctively grabbed this classic scene in front of the Rotary Club burger and dog stand.

Compare with this less immediate, more thought-out composition.

Then I worked the view from underneath bleachers on top of which the glowing luminara spelled out H O P E. This is the O that was shaped like a heart.

Suddenly I realized that I was doing instead of being. My image making shielded me from the deeply emotional event. Deciding to take the nobler path, I put my camera away.

© 2009 John Nordell


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