"Let their minds fill out the shot.."


The only photography training that I ever recieved, short of online workshops recently, was during High School.   I joined the Yearbook group for all the wrong reasons.  It would give me this full period of time during the school day that I could wander around, even offsite at times under the guise of "yearbook activities."  It gave me a pass to hang out with any clubs I wanted.   Football, baseball, cheerleading or band.  I could shadow any organization in the school and it was perfectly okay.   I eventulaly met my wife, a band chick, through this newfound freedom to explore the school with a camera.

Back to the training, though.   They sent us to this Olin Mills or Herf Jones workshop to learn compositional style and camera fundamentals.   I was a teenager and remember hardly anything from the class except for the girl that oddly enough, paid attention to me..

As the "photo editor" (ha ha) for the yearbook and working as a trade-school sort of arrangement for a local newspaper, I developed a pretty passible darkroom skillset.   I loved the develop photos.
Which brings me to this image from the Holiday photowalk, this weekend.  

The head of the yearbook organization was this really effective, mildly crazy, super-intense ex-Cop-turned-english teacher named Jim Reeves.   I always sort of imagined him as a strange mashup of Jimmy Buffet, Ernest Hemmingway, Dirty Harry & Steve Jobs.  I'd pour through the photos of the others (far better photographers than me, by the way) and he'd pour through my list and pick out the best.

Like Steve Jobs, he'd thumb through the photos into two piles, all the while, saying outloud "crap.  crap. crap.   decent.   crap crap crap decent. crap crap crap crap... "  until the stack of paper was reduced two a tiny piles of decent images and a large pile that would immediately find itself into the wastebasket.

As I took this shot, I thought of Jim Reeves... He would applaud the action shots of people and of photos of innanimate objects, he'd tell me..
"Let the viewer's mind fill out portions of the shot, it's okay if everything isn't in the frame."

I've improved in camera handling since then but I don't think I ever did get the nack for natural - epic composition and I constantly struggle with when it's OK to exclude a portion of the shot.   But, I did get that girl's phone number from photography camp.  However, to paraphrase the sitcom, "Kids, this is not how I met your mother..."