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Metaphor for Life

I’m always amused when people naively claim they could have made the same photo as that of the professional photographer whose work they are critiquing. Despite its apparent simplicity, in that moment there is no consideration of all that contributed to the creation of that image.

An impactful photo rarely happens by chance, or due to a specific type of camera. It's the product of some of the very same elements required for achievements in life generally.  I will highlight a few of those here and demonstrate their importance in making strong images.

NYC April 2010
Being at the right place at the right time is most often the result of careful research and consideration. Once there, depending on the subject matter, techniques like time-lapse photography - as in the case of sports or wildlife photography - may be critical to capturing that perfect moment. 
Time of day is also crucial. In general terms, the golden hour is an ideal time to make photos due to the rich colour and shadows imparted by the setting sun.
NYC January 2012
To demonstrate the power of golden hour, consider this photo I made in New York in 2010. Walking by this building as the sun was setting, I was struck by the light playing off the wall, bringing out the coloured windows and casting interesting shadows from the trees nearby. Notably, when I visited again just recently, during a different season and at a different time of day, it appeared a completely different scene. What stopped me dead in my tracks before, I wouldn't have even noticed.


Often the "right" timing requires a great deal of patience. Many great shots are made only after years of observing a subject, learning when it looks best, and returning to photograph it at its most spectacular. Sometimes you may have to wait years to make certain images. Patience and timing considerations combined allow us to put ourselves in the right place at the right time, increasing our likelihood of capturing an excellent photograph.

Just as we each have a unique perspective on issues, or at different points within our own life, photos can be a good visual reflection of this same phenomenon. You need only consider that ten people approaching the same subject matter will have just as many creative perspectives. So too can one photographer. 

During that same recent visit to New York, I was struck by a brightly coloured mural off The Bowery in Noho.  Upon careful reflection, I returned again the next day and made more images. 

Here are just a few of those photos to demonstrate the many approaches one can take to compose the same subject matter. Perspective informs our reality and in the case of photography, manifests in our creative composition. Similarly, our perspective informs our opinions and ideas in life generally.

So next time you are quick to underestimate the skill involved in a photograph or other accomplishment, remember that timing, patience and perspective can make all the difference, just as they do in life.


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