Focus, focus, focus. These are gradually becoming the three most important things in my journey as a photographer. What? Wait a minute. How can I say that the same word repeated three times would mean three separate things? Shouldn't they be 'Composition, Exposure, and then Focus'? Well, yes. That makes sense but by now these three distinctly separate things should be a given, something permanently secured in the back of one's mind when preparing to capture an image.
If the word 'focus' repeated three times pertained to taking very sharp photographs time after time, then I would have made the title of this post, 'Diopter, Diopter, Diopter,' as my well-used middle-aged eyes require that I use a diopter adjustment on almost all of my cameras in order to make a well-focused sharp image, but this is not the intent here either.
Back in my university days, I had the good fortune of taking a few classes at U.C. Irvine with an art professor by the name of Ed Bereal. The way his last name is spelled is a clue here to where I'm headed with this; 'Be-real.' Get it? No matter what class he taught and no matter what kind of wacky creations we students brought into his classroom, he would defer to his default question during the critique time which was what he would ask over and over until our fragile little egos had cracked apart and he was able to reach into our heads, pull out the essence of what the heck we were trying to say with our art, and present it to . . . ourselves: "Yes, but what is it?"
Oh! That's what we intended to convey to the art-viewing audience. Either there was something there or there was nothing, in case we were not 'being real.' Well, I certainly intended for my photography to be real.
After acquiring some photo gear, I ran out and photographed just about everything, especially landscapes. However, after attending meetings at a handful of art/photo associations, I discovered that everyone with some disposable income had run out, bought either a Canon or Nikon and was busy running around photographing . . . landscapes! They shot other subject matter but it was mostly landscapes. "Too easy," I thought to myself.
I struggled to find what other photographers had not found. What I did find was that just about everything under the sun had already been photographed, both by professionals and by amatuer hobbyists alike. I fled from the quiet peaceful world of landscape photography and dived into the urban environment which around here means L.A. I found compelling architecture and structural design, people, animals, gritty things and scenes that sometimes made for a good image and sometimes were just so-so. What I found in abundance was heavy traffic, scarce parking, made even scarcer by parking meters that only take ATMs or credit cards, and security guards reciting some obscure and questionable regulations about not being allowed to photograph the exterior of a building seen by all in public. !!!!! Whaaat?
So, I focused, focused, and focused again until I became real with myself. I will be heading back to the natural world photographing landscapes. I'm an outdoor guy. I love the quiet, the freedom to capture images of most anything I point my camera at and the lack of traffic and parking meters. Unh uh, no way am I putting my plastic into a parking meter!
My work with landscapes will probably be less prolific than in the past but hopefully more selective and more relevant . . . at least to me and perhaps you as well. Sit back, relax, be patient and when the time comes, enjoy.
- David Behar