A moment for Moment Design...
February 22, 2016 , LIFESTYLE
What draws you into a photograph? Is it the light, the way it envelops the subject? The shadows and the way they seem to dance across an image or make us want to see just a bit more? If the image is of people, is it how they are connecting and experiencing one another, maybe an intimate moment coupled with a voyeuristic point of view? Does a direct gaze from the subject pull you in? These are all questions worth asking. So think about it…seriously, take a minute and ask yourself these questions. What is is that tugs at your heart strings, pulls you into a photo, speaks to your soul? What makes you feel something!? And why aren’t YOU creating these types of images?
As visual storytellers, we know it’s a much simpler task if there is actually a story to tell. Hiding behind our cameras with clients that we are likely encountering in person for the.very.first.time., it feels like something akin to a first date. Awkward. Uncomfortable. And tiring. It’s hard to fill the silence, to keep a conversation rolling. This takes beaucoup cognitive resources! But as photographers (and let’s not kid ourselves, as human beings), we feel we have to. So we do it, we make the small talk. We get through the session, get home, curl up with our camera cards and computers, pour a glass of wine (you all do this, too, right?), wait for the magic to happen. The first image appears during import and er, where’s the magic? Where’s the connection? And most important of all, why don’t you feel anything? Think back to that small talk you made with your subject. Were you interested in what they had to say? Did you LIKE the story that was unfolding? Was there even a story there at all? Let’s forget about the photography for just a minute (trust me!). Did the conversation itself make you feel anything? My guess is no. My point being, have awkward conversations and you’ll make awkward images. Have conversations that are uninteresting and that lack feeling and you will make images that are boring and make you feel, well, just blah. Al Ziontz said, “Though the photograph is only a two-dimensional artifact, it is actually a record of a conversation between the photographer and the subject.” The good news is that every conversation has the potential to be genuine and interesting. This is the idea behind Jesh de Rox’s epiphany, what he calls Moment Design. Moment Design is an exercise in self-awareness that facilitates the lowering of personal walls (walls that keep you trapped in the “niceties zone” of conversations). It allows you to enter something more intimate and real with your subject. It’s being comfortable with silence and even creating it, knowing that its preparation forges a space for something more authentic to surface. I don’t know about you, but this makes my little psychologist heart sing.
Moment Design is exactly what it sounds like, designing moments. I’m not suggesting that the moments made during a session and captured in camera are contrived in any way, rendering them disingenuous.
Instead, Moment Design is creating a safe space for both the photographer and the subject(s) to interact authentically and on a deeper level. I’m not going to go into it in great detail (though, by all means, read more about it here), but suffice it to say that Moment Design begins with the Photographer opening up their eyes and seeing the potential beauty and interesting images right in front of them, moving away from the schema that guides (*cough* dictates) photographer-subject interactions, and just being real with oneself so subjects feel comfortable enough to follow suit.
So, at your next shoot, ask questions and really listen to the responses. Play games! Encourage silliness with kids! READ body language. Give it a try. You may even fall in love with your clients! I’ll leave you with one last quote by photographer god, Henri Cartier-Bresson, “It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.” So get out there and use your eye, heart, and head to make some authentic images!