I had no idea how profound an impact a stranger at the Simpson Reef Overlook would have on my thoughts about photography. A brief encounter will forever affect how I think and feel about composing images with my camera.
All seemed ordinary…
There we were, two people each out with family, enjoying a beautiful spot on the Southern Oregon coast. Nothing felt unusual. Casual conversation was exchanged about the cameras that hung at our necks. He was devoted to Canon and I to Nikon. The man with brown eyes and round-rimmed glasses asked if I was a professional photographer. I secretly wished that my reply could be, “Yes.” But, alas, my learning curve is great… I am an aspiring amateur photographer. Not so for him, with a certain pride- he described himself as a professional Photojournalist, mentioned that he has a special interest in people and politics… and proceeded to share his business card.
Then our sights drifted out to sea. We marveled at the wave action below as seas stirred by storms smashed boldly on massive rocks and foamed at the base of sea-stacks. The friendly stranger shared where to gaze. His companions had located hundreds of seals and sea lions while we were talking. With that, we each chose a vantage point and proceeded to drift into our own sweet-spots behind the viewfinders of our cameras. (If only I knew then, what I learned later…)
One thing is true on the Oregon Coast… WiFi and cell phone signals are intermittent. For two days, I was off the grid until a stay in a private campground provided reliable access to a strong network connection.
I pulled the stranger’s business card out of hibernation from my parka pocket. A logo on the front of the card… camera with a globe neatly framed in the circular lens space… gave me a clue that the brown-eyed man with round-rimmed glasses was probably a traveler. His name, phone number, and email address were all appropriately placed on the card.
Then, the fine print on the reverse side grabbed my attention–
Pulitzer Prize-winning Photographer
The significance of who I met started as a trickle of awareness and quickly erupted into a cascading revelation. See for yourself- click on the following link, or do your own search…
As my son-in-law later exclaimed to me… “He’s very famous!!”
Since “the revelation,” I have studied the photos of the man who, at the age of 25, won a Pulitzer Prize for the riveting and poignant images he captured on the front lines in Vietnam and Cambodia. He didn’t stop there; his career spans more than five decades. David Hume Kennerly is described as one of fifty top photographers of our times for excellent reason. If you are an aspiring photographer, like me, or a professional… I encourage you to study his career achievements. Search out his images. I guarantee there will be images that immediately capture attention.
What I’ve discovered about David Hume Kennerly’s photography is far reaching. I will continue to pay attention and follow his social media. There’s a lot to appreciate and understand from his work… especially beyond technique… to find the heart… the art of photography.
I wish to hone the ability to nail the power of an image by waiting, studying, intuitively spotting the essence of a situation. That’s a big order to fill, but I’ve always relished taking on challenges. I’ll be honest and admit that I have developed a terrible habit of taking dozens of shots of a subject with the hope of more. To strive for less and produce more effective shots is a worthwhile goal. A little help is on the way… I found one of Kennerly’s books on Amazon!
David’s description of himself as a Photojournalist also contained a hint of something missing in my self image. I’ve seen myself as an aspiring photographer. I’ve seen myself as a naturalist. I’ve seen myself as an educator.
Part of my revelation tells me I need to look at not separating self image into fragments. The coupling of photographer with a purpose.. as Kennerly has done as a Photojournalist… gives focus.
I think I will try Photo-naturalist on for size… and let the pieces fall into place.