As an advertising and editorial photographer and videographer, much of my work consist of assignments where the subject is defined for me. I have the challenge of discovering the best way of illustrating the purpose of the photograph depending on the requirements of the client. It can be rewarding when that moment happens and you know you are on the right track.
It is totally different when there is no assignment or even a specific purpose for my photography. Each day I get up looking forward to the chance make an image. Note, I said “make an image” not just take a photograph. Anyone with a camera can take a photograph by just pushing the shutter, to me that is not making an image but just recording a scene.
I was recently listening to how Sam Abell talked about making his layered images and the discovery process he went through. It reminded me that it sometimes takes trial and error before setting on an image that you like. I think most photographers go through a similar process of sorting out how and what to use in making images.
This evening, just after sunset, as I strolled among a nearby beach, I found the tide was unusually low. I noticed it exposed the ocean floor that normally would be under several feet of water. There as a different texture to the sand and some interesting patterns. But, in the quickly fading light there was not quite enough drawing of the contours. Then, I saw the piece of seaweed in the first image which looked promising but again the light had faded a little to much. There was still enough side light to create interest but the values were now too close to really make a statement.
As I walked along, I noted shore birds wading near the shore with beautiful golden light reflecting off their white chest feathers. But, I was not prepared with a long enough lens to make anything worth while.
As I walked past the birds, I started to notice some chest feathers had come loose from those birds and were now sitting on some of those ocean bottom contours. I selected the ones I felt would make the most interesting images and quickly composed them in the fading light. See my final picks below.
As you can see by the time I found the last feather, the light had almost faded to nothing.