Who finds who? Do you take your photographs or do they find you?

That is the question that I’ve be pondering lately. As a photographer, do I actually take the photos or do those photographs find me? Am I creating a photo or am I simply in the right place at the right time?

Yes, I realize this concept sounds rather “out there” but hang with me for a moment.  This idea is another way to look at the concepts that Brett broached yesterday. When I pack my box of mini figures and head out to my intended location, I often spend time simply standing and waiting. Once I have the feel of the place I will look around for a likely location to begin. This could be an area that has interesting light, or a bit of moss that is appealing or a puddle on the ground. Where I begin, rarely makes a difference on how successful my photography experience will be.

Usually I will set up my toys in a haphazard manner and hope for the best. I don’t agonize about my locations or angles until I’m looking through the lens. The photo will either be there or it won’t.

The other day I was roaming around Magnuson Park, one of my favorite places to photograph. This location has a swamp, grassy savannas, small puddles and many nooks and crannies that can satisfy even the most discerning toy photographer. I had two photos in mind, one with a boat and one with a truck.

I played around for a bit and captured a few images; nothing especially amazing. But when I glanced to my left, I was blown away by the beauty of the light on the water.

Eureka! Here was the photo I didn’t know I was looking for!

I pulled the toy truck from my backpack and set it down at the waters edge and began photographing. The image I had been looking for, found me. While this image doesn’t feature LEGO, it maybe one of my all time favorite photos. This photo is filled with decay, magical light and has a story to tell. It’s a photo I didn’t know existed until I casually glanced to my left and it was there waiting for me.

I know you probably thing I’m bonkers but I think there is something to the idea of not forcing an image. The photo will find you when it’s ready. It’s easy to plan, over think, force a situation because you want to capture a particular idea. As I get older I realize you have to relax and be open to finding an image. Open to seeing the world in new ways.

Be open to the unexpected.

This may not make sense for a studio photographer, but I hope this  thought process will resonates with other outdoor toy photographers. When you’re in nature you have to be open to the unexpected. You never know where an image will appear. Some days I go out and come back with several photos, sometimes only one or two sometimes none. No matter what the results, I’m happy because its all part of the process.

Who Finds Who? I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know that the photos I’m looking for are out there. I simply have to be open to the possibilities and wait for them to find me.


Do you take your photos or do they find you somehow?

For more information about how Taoism and photography work together, check out the book: Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing by Phillip L Gross and S I Shapiro.

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