Remembering 9/11…

Recently I was asked to describe some defining moments from my life. (Before you read on I’m curious if, when you think back, your defining moments are happy, sad, frightening or?)

For me I found that happy moments were not what came to mind.

Although the year changes, I never forget this date. September 11, 2001 reinforced the idea that things can change in an instant.

I was standing in line at a coffee shop waiting to pick up some bagels to take to a friend who was ill, when images began to fill the screen of the wall mounted tv. The sound was off and I thought, like those around me, that a movie was being shown.

The chatter from other patrons soon died and we watched in horror as footage of planes crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York played out on the screen.

My phone immediately began ringing and the next few hours were consumed with phone calls, primarily from team members of the Search and Rescue team I belonged to.

At the time I was living in Florida and handling a bloodhound, a scent specific dog utilized when we needed to find one particular person, but the events of 9/11 called for the usage of dogs trained to search for anything living in collapsed structures.

Several of our team members who trained such dogs were deployed to New York with FEMA Task Force II to be a part of the search.

A defining moment as vivid today as it was twenty-one years ago. That day brought home awareness that the world can change in an instant. Many lives were lost in the attacks and more through the years as a result of the attacks. That day changed me in ways I’m only beginning to understand.

My bloodhound has been gone for many years, the hound in the image above was one that I had the good fortune to photograph one cold winter morning.

Defining moments…

in a photographic journey.

on frozen ground
on frozen ground

A shutter working at a speed of one-fourth to one-twenty-fifth of a second will answer all purposes. A little blur in a moving subject will often aid to giving the impression of action and motion.

Alfred Stieglitz

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a challenge of posting three images a day for five days which made me look at my body of work a little differently. I was searching for groups of images that worked well together and in the process was able to give myself a little more direction.

While choosing my first grouping of three I could clearly see influences flow through my work. Those influences were more related to various techniques and use of lenses and not necessarily subject matter. What I found were images that energetically and visually worked more naturally together.

I can distinctly remember how on frozen ground came about. I was photographing an exciting event called skijoring where skiers and snowboarders are pulled around a track and over jumps at high rates of speed by a horse and rider team. There was no shortage of people photographing this event and after choosing a location that would eliminate more of the background clutter, I began shooting.

During a break in the action I was scrolling through my images and remember being so decidedly underwhelmed by my shots that I thought would look pretty much like everybody else’s. I will admit to being more than a little envious of the fellow who had the prime position of being right in the center of the ring and thought, okay, how can I make mine different? What do I want to capture in my shot? There were several things that impressed me; speed, danger, teamwork, and the sheer beauty of a horse galloping across the snow. I love abstract, don’t want to be visually told everything, but would rather have something left to discover. That however was not coming through in my static, high shutter speed shots that froze the action so I dialed it down and began panning with my camera as each team flew by. I got the shot that I wanted and it has become a favorite of mine.

Looking back, I realized that I had become comfortable enough with my camera to start playing with it more; where the risk of walking away without the shot was a far better choice for me than settling for a shot that I didn’t love. I think up until that point my images consisted more of static moments frozen in time even though it had always been my desire to be able to instill more emotion into my imagery.

On that cold January day I didn’t freeze and was able to work through a moment and capture what I had mentally visualized.

Participating in the art challenge allowed me to group together images and make sense of what and how I like to shoot and in the process that has refocused me. Shooting from the heart adds a certain authenticity that is hard to fake. If you’re not moved by your own images how can you expect others to be?

 

For more about Alfred Stieglitz check out my post from February 8th ¬†“If you could tag along with an iconic photographer…”