About two weeks ago, I was downtown in Tucson, AZ taking some street portraits of strangers.
Eventually, you will see some of those pictures. Not today.
Today, I want to talk about how I ended up with these particular images instead and decided I liked these more than any of my portraits.
It was a Monday around 9 am. Usually, in most cities, this is not a time of peace and quite in any downtown. That is simply not the case in this Southwestern city. As I walked with my camera hanging around my neck, I realized there was ABSOLUTELY NOBODY outside.
So me being me, I got bored looking for humans.
I started to deviate from the couple of main streets that make up what is considered downtown Tucson and wandered off exploring down some smaller streets. This is when I started to become fascinated by these small details in Tucson architecture that suddenly were popping out at me left and right.
There were red windows, rust colored walls, green doors, purple and blue house shutters, rugged bricks and brilliant splashes of white all over the place. I was seeing textures, colors and patterns everywhere I looked.
I work downtown as a bartender, and I can honestly say I have walked around this area over a hundred times in the past year, yet never have I noticed all of the amazing things there were to take pictures of.
Why was I seeing it all so vividly on that day? Before I knew it, I had taken over 300 pictures, completely engrossed in what I was doing and nearly two hours had flown by.
In the meantime, I had of course stumbled onto a few people who had been willing to pose for a quick portrait but honestly, those pictures are a side note of that day for me.
My real success in my opinion was not the reason I had come downtown, but the images I walked away with that had nothing to do with Portraiture.
I took every single one of these photos plus many more on this exact day. The thing I remember so clear about it was that it was so quiet and empty outside that day that I could hear my own thoughts. It was incredibly beautiful out, a perfect Southern Arizona fall day. I could hear every click of my shutter (one of my favorite sounds in the world).
So as usual I learned a few things about myself. I take better, more composed pictures when I am engrossed, alone and in silence without any time constraints. The reason for this I think is because I was having FUN doing this. Peaceful fun. Also, I was able to control and restrict my framing a lot more than when I am working with people.
I also learned – and this is the big one – that if your creative focus shifts subjects on a particular day, into a particular mood; then go with it!
If you are drawn to something as an artist, follow that instinct and forget TIME.
The end result will always speak for itself, to whoever comes close enough to hear and listen.