I was recently re-watching a video podcast series over on Peachpit where the illustrious David DuChemin had a series of roughly 20 short videos that incorporated ideas from his book “Within the Frame”.
It’s somewhat dated in that the podcasts themselves were published back in 2009, but so much of what he did in that short series is timeless, even though the videos only encompass about 4 hours of air time. David was also a guest on the podcast here a while back, so we’ve crossed paths a few times. As you may or may not know, David also suffered some pretty painful injuries from a fall in Italy while teaching a class a while back. He is in therapy and from my last understanding, almost fully walking again (doctors have given him permission to bear weight on his legs), so if you get a minute, stop over to his blog and give him some “get well” wishes if you haven’t already!
Anyway, todays’ post isn’t so much a back story on David, rather it’s on something David mentioned in his first podcast (you really should check out the entire series too, it had a limited scope, and that gave the arc of critiques he offered that much more meaning and impact – here’s the link again for those of you who missed it above: Within the Frame podcast series ). What David mentioned almost in passing was this concept of “If Only”. The thing of it is, we’ve all had these “if only” moments before – can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had this experience.
On one such occasion, I was driving down a road in south Denver, and a wizened lady with her possessions in a shopping cart was crossing the street. beyond her, the street sloped downward and the mountains of Colorado were shooting up in the distance, in all their grandeur. It was a moment that beautifully combined elements of several of the artisans I admire, including Cartier-Bressom, Moose Peterson, and of course, Ansel Adams. It was such a “clickable” moment, but I ended up said to myself (wait for it, you know it’s coming):
If only I had my camera!
If I did have my camera, I would definitely have probably parked the car, halted traffic, and made several compositions to bring one into my permanent portfolio. There have been others too. What struck me though, is that we can spend our time cursing the timing, the light, our gear, what we could have, should have, or wanted to do to capture the image….or we can make a mental note of it to hopefully make the image again later!
In his podcast, David mentioned the phrase “In a perfect world” as well. These two ideas convey rather nicely the entire reason for photography – because there is no perfect world. The planets will never align themselves for you. You have to align things yourself. By recognizing the composition of the moment, the timing, the light, what’s present, what’s lacking, and how you can make the image better – you actually are making yourself better. So, the teachable moment here is to not kick yourself for the timing of things or the “if only” moments…rather to make note of these elements, because that’s how you truly grow as a photographer – seeing what’s right (and wrong) to make your work and your vision stronger!
What kind of “if only” moments have you had in the past? Did you make note of what could have made things better? Did you remember? Did you ever go back to re-create the image? Share your own thoughts, moments, and comments below!