Levels of an idea

I’ve always thought of a photo idea being shot on several different levels. A quick definition is 1) documentation of the idea 2) refinement of the idea
but lacking the final composition or emotion…and 3). The shot that says what you felt and wanted to convey.

Here’s an example using a few photos of my mother. As mom got older, she got shorter, and eventually had trouble seeing over the dash of the car.
I kidded her about it but also had an idea for a photo that would illustrate it in a slightly humorous way.

I didn’t get the feeling that the shot would work from inside the car, so I decided to try to shoot it
from the outside. The first shot was after we got back from having coffee one afternoon. I had a 50mm 1.2L lens on my Canon 5D3 camera and
thought I could blur out the background and highlight her eyes looking over the top of the door.

Here’s the shot, but I didn’t think it achieved the feeling I was looking for. It didn’t touch that something inside me that makes me smile
when I look at it. The background, although blurred, is still distracting.



A few months later we were on our way for coffee in Oshkosh. I stopped off at home to pick up my camera. It was a nice summery day and
I was reminded of the photo of mom looking over the door. This time I grabbed a 500mm f4L lens on my Canon 1DX to try a different perspective.
I had mom put on a pair of my sunglasses and told her to look at me. The longer lens really blurred the background and brought attention
to just over half of mom’s head peaking over the window. I knew when I shot it that this was the photo
I was looking for and would convey the feeling I had.

Comparing the two photos, the second one is simpler, cleaner, and because of the compression of the 500mm lens, does a better job
of showing her face.

One Comment

  1. Dan Beauvais February 26, 2013 at 12:34 AM #

    Jim, I truly enjoyed following the Facebook series of photos of your adventures with your Mon, on her good and bad days. I felt like I got to know her a little. But it was this photo of your Mom peeking over the window sill that got an audible laugh and big grin from me. She passed just a few weeks later, and I felt I lost something.

    This photo has stuck with me. I enjoy telling people about it, and it has inspired me. First for career reasons, then for environmental preferences, I have lived hundreds of miles from my folks for 26 years now. And visits home have always been for an event of some sort. Well, I’m changing that. I am going to visit for a week next month, with no intent but to visit and capture memories, in both digichromes and in neurochromes. I don’t want to wait any longer. Who knows when it’ll be too late. And your series on your Mom, and this photo in particular, is my inspiration.

    Thank you for sharing!

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