Tag Archives: Paul Strand

The Process. Sometimes.

I was  driving through an unfamiliar neighborhood on the way home yesterday after picking up  scans for some client work.   Off to my right out the car window I saw the flag (I always see the flags) and the fence and instantly the photograph formed in my head.  I turned around, parked the car, grabbed the camera and went to work.  A teenager was playing basketball on an adjoining driveway to the house.   I smiled (always smile) and asked if he lived there, pointing at the house with the fence and the flag.  He responded no and kept on shooting.  I am always careful when approaching and entering private property in pursuit of a photograph.  I stood on the sidewalk looking at the house, listening to hear any sign that anyone was in the yard or visible in the windows.  There wasn’t.  I set the exposure, walked up the path and clicked 4 or 5 times, recomposing slightly every time and opening the aperture from 5.6 to 1.4, changing the shutter speed appropriately.   I was on the property less than 45 seconds.   I was not surreptitious or sneaky, just quick.  I stopped  and shot a few baskets with the kid (I actually hit a few modest jumpers) and tried to convince him to try out for his high school basketball team.  He had a nice little shot and could clearly play the game but had no interest in playing as the coach was a jerk.  Okay then.

I am very pleased with the resulting photograph.  I was thinking of two images as I stood out in front of that house yesterday, the Bresson photo of an old woman draped in a flag, and a photo by Paul Strand:  The White Fence, Port Kent, 1916.  I have always overlooked the Strand image until recently when I had the occasion to view a print made by the artist.  Simply brilliant.

Incorporating the American flag in any photograph adds quite a bit, as everyone feels or thinks something when they view it.  The combination  of the picket fence (Mark Twain) and the flag proved irresistible.  So this is the process, sometimes.

 

Sam

 

 

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