Random happenstances

One of my favorite things to shoot is the “enterprise” photo. Sometimes called “wild art” or “stand alone” pictures they are usually shots that run by themselves without a story, just a caption. They are usually “slice of life” pictures that show something interesting or picturesque (or both) in the community. It takes equal amounts of skill, timing, talent and knowledge as a well as a good amount of luck to find a good one. I’ve probably spent hundreds of hours driving around looking for such pictures with varying degrees of success.

Lately I’ve been posting an occasional series of pictures to Facebook that I’ve called “random photos. Sometimes it could be just one, other times there are several. There is very little rhyme or reason for them other than I just like them. Like enterprise photos they aren’t something that I’m assigned to or that I’m specifically looking for but just things that happen to catch my eye. They may contain a kernel of an idea: lighting, composition, emotional and literal content, but not enough of a combination of them to make a comprehensive enterprise photo without the reader saying to themselves: “why did he take that?” Or “what’s this mean?”

While a full-fledged enterprise photo should like a completed song the random photos that I’ve shot are like a musical phrases or even just a few notes that may sound good but aren’t yet finished pieces.

Sometimes I’ll be driving along and see something that piques my curiosity or I may show up a bit early to an assignment and find something interesting that wasn’t’ related to the task I was sent there for. It could be the way the light is striking something just so, or a combination of shapes and color in a scene, or something that just creates a mood or feeling that, while they may not be something that I can use just then, but can be picture-worthy nonetheless.

A few that I got recently include a shot of an egret just as it took flight from a raft of water hyacinth on the deep water channel in Stockton. A Chinese pistache tree that screamed out in its brilliant red fall hues as it matched the color of a nearby stop sign on Columbia Avenue and Willow Street in Stockton. The orange-painted corrugated steel walls of J. Ramirez Autobody Repair and Grillos Creations Custom Upholstery begged to be photographed as an older blue car peeked out from the partially opened garage door.

Light played a key in two photos on Main Street in downtown Stockton at different times of two different days. Warm light from the setting sun glanced off of buildings in the 600 block while later a single streetlight illuminated the 700 block. Both scenes set their own unique tone and mood.

I showed up about 15 minutes early on morning to shoot a portrait at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. While I waited for my subject to arrive I spied with my little eye several things to shoot just outside of Knoles Hall. First I saw a bicycle parked in a rack with two flags flying on its handlebars. I liked how while the bike was silhouetted by being backlit, the flags, illuminated by the same backlighting, stood out against the shadows of the university’s library in the background. Then I was drawn to a fallen sycamore leaf on the sidewalk, its shadows creating an interesting pattern. Another leaf lay among the ivy nearby. The light of the morning sun shone through it turning a golden brown while the leaves of a small weed grew in front of it. Not far away a yellow fire hydrant matched the color of the fall leaves on the tree behind it and a single raindrop (it had rained the night before) clung to a leaf of a plant like a tear ready to fall. All these things were found within a 10-yard radius of each other.

A few of my random shots (the stop sign and the egret) have translated into photos that have actually run in the newspaper, others I just file away in my head to perhaps uses as an idea or technique in other pictures in the future. It’s a way to strive to look at things in new ways and to keep one’s creativity fresh and alive.


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