Going in with fresh eyes

Prompt: How has the photo work you’ve done so far affected the way you see the world?

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: taking photos is hard. There’s a lot to focus on, and even though I’ve been trying to be more aware of backgrounds and distracting elements, I still miss things.

During a shoot for an upcoming assignment, however, I did find myself thinking about the subjects differently when scouring the room for detail shots. I tried to imagine what different angles I could take, where in the room I could stand to get a different shot or focus on a specific detail. I hadn’t approached an assignment that way before, so some of my better shots were more due to luck than my own skill. I was more focused on capturing interesting movement than anything else. I can’t say I walk through life now constantly thinking about how I could make a picture of that moment, but I am especially paying more attention to light and composition when I see an interesting scene.

I think part of thinking differently about taking photos is thinking about what experience I bring to the subject — as a dancer, I can anticipate certain moments, to an extent, because I have taken hundreds of dance classes. I know the poses that typically end a grand allegro and how to use the music and counts to figure out when someone will jump, turn or land. As I have been photographing dancers, I have to be very aware of those moments because they often make the best images.

I can also be a lens (literally and figuratively) into a world that not everyone has access to. What about a dance studio have people not seen before that might interest them? Perhaps it’s a girl nonchalantly lifting her leg over her head. Or perhaps it’s a cubby stuffed with scuffed satin pointe shoes. To me, those things might not seem so odd or unusual, but to others, they could be strange or make them inwardly cringe.

Whatever the specific subject, I’ve had to have fresh eyes when entering a world that is already familiar to me, and that has ultimately done the most to change how I approach photography.