“Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success.” Leaders use this quote often to enhance organizational teamwork. Counselors use it to bolster and sustain forward movement among people in relationships who stumble and tumble. The words derive from Henry Ford and their analogy to the work of Life quite likely is taken from first automobiles produced on an assembly line. These words describe that dynamic of steady, determined, hope-directed forward movement towards goals through trial and error and improved performance. The statement articulates the manner of work involved in achieving a productive end through full investment into each learning curve we encounter. We work to understand what’s to be done and how to improve. We act, we work and we utilize feedback about current progress, tweaking action toward better, future performance.
Photography has its learning curves, too. Good photography is about you learning subject and context and about you working to see them well through your camera’s lens. Working together is about you and the camera, it’s about you and the subject, and it’s about you and your environment. The vehicle that serves as subject to these photographs is a 1930’s rusting relic, a sedan with wooden spokes that could be a Chevrolet or a Ford or another make. I saw it last Wednesday in my return journey to Sunrise Beach, near Onoway, Alberta, a trip I was making with a friend to investigate the integrity of a second-hand 2000 GMC Yukon as a possible vehicle to replace my written-off 2000 GMC Sierra.
In photography, it may seem at first glance that it is appropriate to point the camera at anything that is in front of you. However, what is also at play is context and environment. The reality is that context and environment are associated with being property and with ownership. Beyond this, context and environment have intention; people identify what each are to be used for. Here, you’d assume that a vehicle put out for public display would not have any issues associated with it if one were to photograph it. Well, in photographing anyone’s property, there’s the matter of what will the photograph be used for and in this case there was perhaps something more akin to rural crime watch being what was at play, something that should have been anticipated. And, the curious owner who questioned me about my actions was both gracious and concerned. In this instance, I knew better … I could have lessened anxieties and awkwardness by introducing myself, stating my photographic intention and asking permission to photograph the vehicle. Working together, in this best practice for photographers and as one whose been influenced by a lineage of photographers would have had and will now have me working proactively to avoid discomfort and uncertainty for others and myself and work toward ensuring good, productive photographic outcomes … even to the point of accepting the possibility of ‘no’ being an answer to my request to photograph a subject. Proactively seeing things through well for all concerned is a key best practice in photography. This may see me creating a business card that will contain the assurance of contact information for people I deal with. It may even be worth going further and providing them with photographs of the subject as thank you or to create a calendar with my photographs (as bona fide) for this aspect of public relations and good business practice.
Quotes to Inspire – (1) “A definition of a professional photographer: A ‘pro’ NEVER shows anybody the mistakes.” – Anonymous; (2) “The progress of a photographer can often be marked by the accumulated number of mistakes he or she had made along the way.” – Catherine Jo Morgan (3) “Don’t be stupid and remember where you come from.” – Fr. Tony Ricard, NETCA Teacher Convention 2012
Listening to – Patty Griffin’s Long Ride Home, a song about losing a loved-one from the music-filled movie, Elizabethtown, a song followed by You Can’t Hurry Love, by The Concretes from the same movie soundtrack.
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