So as I’ve said before, my favorite thing in life is doing documentary work. Well, my favorite PHOTO thing in life is doing documentary work. That could be a wedding, a portrait shoot, but more directly, a long-term project of some sort.
I like to get out, alone and disappear into a place, a people, a theme and see what I come up with. I turn off all my electronic distractions, I tune out the rest of the world and I focus on what I’m in direct relation with.
Over the years I have noticed a trend with myself, as well as quite a few other photographers.
In short, if in doubt, shoot it.
We always think, “Oh, I can come back later and do this particular shoot,” or “I can come back when things are better and reshoot,” and suddenly the time is the up, the people are gone, the place burned down, the coup changed the name of the country, etc, etc. Again, if in doubt, shoot it. And I mean now. Right now.
These images are scanned contact sheets of crossed Fuji transparency film. I shot them several years ago, and after having a conversation with another photographer, I found out that this place is gone. I don’t know for sure, haven’t been there in years, but I heard it was true. Gone. The “Ace of Spades” the legendary club on the shores of the Salton Sea, reduced to dust. The sea has a tragic history, even beginning, and much of what was there when I first visited is gone.
Are these life-changing images? Was the light great? Are they great moments? No. But I have them, and in some cases, that is what matters. I have a record. It was hot, it was windy, the light sucked, etc, etc. always an excuse, but never a good one.
So next time you are out and you find yourself forming that excuse in your mind as you begin to lean backwards…stop yourself and try leaning forward. You never know what will disappear right before your eyes.