There appear to be two kinds of photographers: Those who capture sequence or scene artisitcally and those who capture the same with a sort of obscene randomness. When I first picked up my Pentax K1000 (I think I was 15), I never wanted to waste a print. At the time, it was costly to mess around. People took classes to master aperture setting. Today, they take classes just to turn the camera “On.” However, once in the “on” position, our ingenious digital devices have mastered capturing the world as we see it and making it easily, immediately accessible to our eye for approval or dissection. We no longer waste money printing hundreds of shots we don’t like, but spend it sparingly on those we do or burn the entire set to CD for future prints. (This last part alleviates at least some parental guilt).

So then, as an amateur photographer, watching other adults pick up a camera for the first time, I can bare witness to the delight they feel in capturing a slice of time, no matter how mundane or ridiculous. They may shoot hundreds of frames only to delete half or all of them guilt-free. My own children have spent time photographing the vacuum with my Nikon D50 and at first I was overwhelmed with the wastefulness of it all. And yet, what was there to waste? A minute amount of energy? Time? The soul of our aging vacuum? Was this art? What the hell is art, anyway, if it isn’t something beautiful one person sees in something and wishes to share with another? Something about the form, texture and color of the Kirby attracted the eyes of my children to it, but what? Answer that question and you’ve helped define the art.

The funny thing is, I’ve learned a lot more about photography from my friends and family who shoot randomness than from those who don’t. [My step-father aside, who presented me with my beloved Pentax and then taught me how to use it.] From camera phones, I’ve seen airports, bumper-stickers, a heron, a man crying, graffiti, rotten bananas, dogs being dogs, cats being cats and posters advertising some upcoming production. And though the quality is often lacking, the imagery and intent is not absent. The artist is not lacking for content, but perhaps composition and yet, I am drawn more closely into these photos for those tiny imperfections that make them real to me. Like reality TV, only truly real. Honest photography that doesn’t just trace the black and white textures of a sorrowful human face, but captures the breath mid-sentence; holds it there without edit for the world to see, to recognize, to relate to or to feel nothing of any significance at all. You may stand close or walk away and that’s the beauty in it. There are no expectations, just observation. No critique, just a slow taking in of information. No self-scrutiny, just a hint of irony.

The irony is in our desire to capture perfection in an imperfect world:  To uncover beauty beneath the guise of ugliness.

Why do people get their best shots before and after the shoot?  They get the best shot because they are capturing people in the moment and not in the lens.

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