When we ask how one managed to take the shot, often we will get a humble reply that one was “just being at the right place at the right time”. I have to agree that to a certain extent, this statement is true. Sometimes we do need some luck in getting a great shot or a great moment. However, I believe that there’re still credits to the photographer besides being lucky.
From the various photowalk with friends, it’s easy to notice that we see things differently. Even though we walk the same path, perhaps we shoot the same subject, but the end result can be vastly different. To me, that’s mainly due to how one “sees” and envision his idea. So, even if I put you in the exact same spot of where the iconic picture was taken, you may not be able to see that moment as well.
That’s why I believe the “seeing” portion is very important. So important that I can even go as far as describing it as a “decisive” factor that differentiate one photographer from another. Being able to see or envision a moment, being able to see the light and shadow formation, being able to see the lines and shapes, being able to see the beauty within and so on.
Street photographers like to compose picture with a method called “creating order within the chaos”, and to me, that involves a whole lot of “seeing”. It can be something is happening in front of you, you see it and capture the moment in split second; it can be the location or environment that is inspiring you to see something that is not there, but you will then wait for the right moment to capture your frame.
Without being able to “see” it, you can just stand on the same spot and end up shot nothing (or shot a bunch of crappy pictures). Without being able to see it, you can stand on the best spot in the world with all the moments happening in front of you and yet you still do not captured the best and award winning frame.
The art of seeing is something that I’m trying to learn and master. Perhaps it is interconnected with composition skills. Perhaps it is related to your understanding on the subject matter. Perhaps it is just the inner voice within yourself that you need to discover and call upon. Nevertheless, hopefully I can learn to “see” things differently and uniquely in order to build up my style soon. Till then.