The Highline, Chelsea.
This type of shot used to be a staple of mine when I first started the blog. At least one, two times a week I would photograph one or more people from behind, either standing around or going someplace. I think fashion week killed it for me a year ago; all of a sudden I had so many quality front-facing frames that it seemed like a downgrade going back to this type of perspective. The funny thing though is that I never actually stopped taking photos like this. I still follow people and line them up in my viewfinder all the time, and occasionally I even press the shutter button. But I often find myself throwing those frames away (in many instances I don’t even upload them from my memory card). There was just something about “chasing the quality of the more established street photographers” that made my follow-shots just feel second-rate, there’s no other way that I can explain it.
So when I was up on the Highline, I saw this couple, jumped behind some baby trees and took one frame (not this one), and then walked away. I got perhaps 10 paces away and decided to review the shot. It wasn’t this frame, but it basically looked like this frame, (this one and the original were taken in the exact same spot–behind some baby trees!). Funny, but then I had a thought that I hadn’t had in a very long time–the thought that compelled me to take another photo and be absolutely sure it was what I wanted. Luckily the couple hadn’t moved, so I returned to my spot and took a second frame, the one you’re seeing now. While I don’t spend time looking at the work of my peers for the sake gauging the quality of my photos against theirs (photography is like dancing–the foundation of style is imminently dependent on one’s anatomy first; in the case of photography we all have different eyes and perceive the same objects very differently), it occurred to me that on a subconscious level, it’s possible that I’ve been discriminating against my own instincts when I find myself doing things that are too far out on the island. In the world of fashion or art at large, when one is on an island they’d better be trailblazing, or else they’re making a self-mockery, there is no in between. And it’s possible that without that confidence for the first half of the year, I feared the latter.
If there’s a lesson here, it’s to keep doing what you’re doing, but remember that it’s only fully worth it if you believe in what you do. And if you do find yourself on an island indeed, well… you better start blazing those trails. Who knows, your island might end up being a continent.