This is a quote by the famous crime photographer WeeGee (great post about this here), meaning that in order to consistently get good shots one needed to both have a camera set to take a technically good photo at a moment’s notice and one had to be present. While, given the current state of technology, one can argue the technical merits of such advice for the technologically advanced equipment of today, the forceful blunt, practical aphorism is just right now as it was then. Not surprisingly this saying transcends photography itself and becomes a powerful metaphor that applies to life itself.
Too often we feel the internal conflict between what we feel that we “should” be doing, and doing nothing. Be it exercise, cleaning the garage, visiting family or even doing things we actually enjoy (like shooting pictures), we get caught in our busy little lives and when the thought comes for us to “go and do” we remind ourselves of our tiredness and we slouch into our comfortable couches and ignore it.
Once we get moving, however, the fatigue diminishes as we get lost in what we are doing. Much like the physical world the same sorts of laws seem to apply, especially laws of thermodynamics. Inertia is a property of all matter which likes to keep the status quo. If an object isn’t moving it resists moving. Once enough energy is put to moving the object, it wants to keep moving until forces drag it down. A good example is pushing a car on a flat road that has run out of gas. It is hard to get it going, but fairly easy once it starts rolling. The hardest step to “being there” is often the first one.
At The Crossroads of Happenstance and Serendipity.
Sometimes, by just being there, happenstance and serendipity will collide in a way that you could never have planned. Events unfold, people appear and scenes erupt as secret gifts from God.
Last week I set up a photography meetup for after work. Only one person showed up, the sunlit sky was harsh and unforgiving. My friend was more than willing to just chat at McDonalds and forego shooting. But since I planned to shoot, we would shoot, regardless. While shooting the downtown alley a man approached me making some remark. After a short discussion he disclosed that owned and was refurbishing the old downtown buildings. He let us in to shoot in a couple of his properties. Not only did I get some very fun shots, but I also got a contact if I ever want to rent some studio space. The man was heading to the parking lot to go home, we just happened to cross paths; a path that would not have been crossed sitting in a booth at McDonalds.
All In Focus
It is strange that we fight so hard against those things we want to do, but if we want to produce any body or work, that is what we must do. I am not sure what the trick is to forcing ourselves out into the world, but making commitments to people is one good way. Plan time to dive into this wild and crazy world to make yourself available to those sublime moments. As you capture those moments, you will create incredible memories to last a lifetime.