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Saturday, October 08, 2005

The photos I didn't take

I went for a late brunch today at around 1pm at a local breakfast place Rex's Cafe in my neighbourhood. Brought my Leica M3 with me loaded with a roll of Acros 100.
As I sat at the bar and had my 'two eggs with bacon, toast and home fries' a number of scenes played out infront of me; there was the girl that slipped on the floor and sat down smiling as her friend helped her up and there were the mirrors on the opposite wall where people's faces were being reflected - nicely framed by the bottles and glasses at the bar.

I finished my eggs and left, walking down Polk Street here in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighbourhood.
It was a very sunny day and people were taking full advantage of it by dining outside of any cafe that could muster up any tables. Down an alley there were beautiful shadows spreading across the sun drenched walls and damn it if there wasn't even a small black cat sitting there enjoying the early afternoon sun. Quiet, nice scene. I walked on with the lens cap still firmly attached on the 'cron.

Came home. Tired and took a nap on the couch for a few hours. Woke up realizing that the day was slipping away from me and went up on the roof-top and the view out to the Golden Gate bridge was gorgeous in the afternoon light.

Later on took a short walk and the cable car came whizzing up Hyde Street with some tourists standing to the side taking a photo of it nicely sidelit by a late night open store.

I often have days like that. I carry a camera with me intending to capture moments with it - but more often than not I end up not taking a single frame. Honestly I don't mind. The point is not that I raised a camera to my eye and squeezed off the shutter but rather that I saw these images. The greatest gift that photography has given me has been that it has opened my eyes for 'seeing' scenes that I otherwise may have passed by.
It may not always enrichen my collection of contact sheets but I know that it enriches my life on a daily basis.


Blogger Gene Wilburn said...

Thought-provoking post. I've had days like that too, where I carried a camera but just enjoyed looking, without taking a single shot. You nailed it for me -- the seeing is what it's all about.

October 09, 2005 8:09 AM  
Blogger RPA said...

Enjoying your blog, Rich. Thanks.

October 09, 2005 2:14 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I usually keep a camera in the car. I'm always on my way to or from work. Sometimes I luck out, usually I don't. It is a reason to keep my eyes more open. The leaves are in the middle of changing colour up here, and I've seen some spectacular shots overlooking some of the ravines. Other things I watch out for... deer, and the ground hog that lives in front of where I work. The one time I actually sat down within ten feet of it and watched it for five minutes. Then it realized I was there, and it scurried off to its hole. My kingdom for a camera that day.

October 09, 2005 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Gordon Coale said...

I call it Zen photography. Taking pictures without a camera. Being there in the moment. Which is a necessary precondition to being a good photographer with a camera. Henri Cartier-Bresson's favorite book was "Zen and the Art of Archery." I never worry about shots missed. If I see it it wasn't missed. And there will always be more moments.

October 09, 2005 11:52 PM  
Blogger Rich Silfver said...

I like the 'Zen photography' comment. When you think about it there are billions of 'photo oportunities' happening every second all over the world. To not capture the ones close to you with a camera means very little if you very able to recognize the moment and enjoy it.

October 10, 2005 12:05 AM  
Blogger arbus said...

Funny how the days images present themselves are the days I don't have a camera with me. But you are right about seeing. When I stopped shooting for a few years I stopped seeing.

November 21, 2005 9:28 AM  
Blogger taffer said...

well, i was going to submit a comment but just got to the last paragraph and realized what i wanted to say was just that.
you didn't lose those moments, you clearly got them, doesn't really mind if they are recorded on a physical medium, they are in you, and now they are in us.

November 23, 2005 4:41 PM  

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