Each time you take your camera to a spot, you look at that place with certain conscious (or unconscious) goals. You want to show what a place looks like, show the folks back home where you visited, or maybe trying to collect a few artful images. For this visit to Pacific Grove, my goal was to photograph the life of this place in an almost stream of consciousness mode, a kind of improv on one spot from multiple points of view.
During the previous days I had been doing a photo tour of the Monterey Peninsula with a bunch of other photo enthusiasts. At those locations, we had been fairly rigorous: bringing tripod, cable release and a range of lenses, weighing what worked and what didn’t. Mark Common, our leader, encouraged the group to look for unique image possibilities and follow composition best practices.
So with the class over, I wanted to keep that kind of rigor but work more on-the-fly without the tripod to slow things down. So for the next hour or so, I tried to keep one eye on good composition and the other on capturing the spontaneous moments of this popular beach in Pacific Grove.
The mistiness of the beach got me thinking of how the rocks and sea worked as abstraction, like a Zen garden in water.
Capturing a seagull at just the right moment is pure chance. But taking a lot of shots helps to even the odds.
Juxtaposing two design elements creates abstraction. The curvature of this wall gets emphasized when I went wide angle.
The wall creates two design planes.
Improv with People
Adding people to the mix still requires an awareness of abstract composition. But people also have a habit of engaging with each other in ways that are telling. So I try to use layout to tell the story.
Being girls and boys
Two kids enjoying the water in very different ways.
A young scientist
Something about this woman looking out at the swimmers appealed to me.
Mother and child, two friends on a wall, smiling for the camera, composition as relationship.
After over an hour I had 300+ shots, an improv on the life of a beach. It was a fun exercise, part landscape, part street photography. Kinda like real life.