A Gentle Reminder


Recently, I was with a group photographing a location I’ve been to a few times. I was not inspired to photograph what we all came shoot which was fine, I was enjoying the company and just being there. And then, while waiting at the stop light to cross the street, I looked down and found todays blog image.

I’m enjoying Jay Maisel’s book, Light Gesture & Color, where he is confirming things I too have learned along the way.  Things like, always have a camera with you and its all about the light! There is not good or bad light, there is just light. Jay shows some wonderful examples of “bad noonday light.”  And then he speaks about a wall that he painted and how it transformed when the light hits it in a particular way. This is exactly what happened here. I was standing on the sidewalk on a cover of some sort. Probably access to wires underneath. I’ve stood on or driven over this type of thing many times, but this time because of the late day low angle of the sun, it took on a completely different possibility. I snapped three quick images and then the light changed. Yes, the sunlight and the street light!

Jay tells his students to just go out and shoot. Essentially asking them to put away their expectations and simply be aware, aware of what is calling them to be photographed. This is my gentle reminder to you as well. While it is wonderful to travel to exotic destinations and plan or even pre-visualize the great images we will make, great images are right before us. We just need to be open to seeing them. So, as you are out, have a camera with you, be observant and open to whatever gifts are presented and stop worrying about the light. It is what it is, its up to you to use it properly.

By the way and not that it matters, this is an iPhone 6+ image.

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  1. Jo March 25, 2015 at 8:13 am #


    Can you have this pop up as a daily reminder please?

    Thank you in advance.

    • JB March 25, 2015 at 8:17 am #

      Be careful of what you ask for Jo….. 🙂

  2. Terry Rowe March 25, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    Great reminder, I’ve heard Jay Maisel talk about light and gesture and it’s so simple but so profound. Thanks!

    • JB March 25, 2015 at 8:34 am #

      Jay is a legend. It is simple but remember Jay has been practicing for over 40 years! And its my experience that we do need to practice. Thanks for stopping by Terry.

  3. katzeye March 25, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    John, this is a great and FUN shot!

    • JB March 25, 2015 at 9:12 am #

      Thank you Katzeye!

  4. Jeanne Lesperance March 25, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    Thanks for a great reminder, John!

  5. Carla March 25, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Oh so true, John! We have a tendency not to look around in our daily surroundings. I have noticed on several occasions that the “bad” light was just perfect at that moment.

    • JB March 25, 2015 at 10:17 am #

      Carla, it was Freeman Patterson that helped me understand there was no good or bad light, just light. Of course it is our responsibility to see it and use it in its most flattering way.

  6. marty golin March 25, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    To expand your comment to Carla… How many carry a P&S with them virtually every waking moment, at work, at the grocery store, in the house? If one accepts the statement “If one is not expecting to find any images, it is much less likely that they will see them,” the solution for that is to ALWAYS expect to see images. It is our responsibility, if we choose to accept it, to see any subject having at least the potential to be presented in a positive way. I acknowledge that this is an unobtainable ideal, but it is a goal.

    • JB March 25, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

      Marty! I always love Marty’s comments. Right on, AGAIN! Marty nails it, we need to expect to see images. Thank you Marty.

  7. Robert crowe March 25, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    Great shot and advice thank you

    • JB March 25, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

      Thanks for reading the blog Robert.

  8. Peggy W March 25, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    John I am a little intrigued that you shot this at an angle. Having observed street plates and knowing engineers, I know that being symmetrical is normal. Shooting it square would have made an important difference.

    • JB March 25, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

      Not sure I totally follow you Peggy. Are you suggesting I should have shot it so the lines were square to the edge? I shot it this way as shooting it square would have been way too static. For me it needed to be rotated to give it life. And, it is an abstract after all. So orientation is irrelevant. Always appreciate your comments Peggy.

  9. Howard Grill March 25, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    A really fantastic shot….and a great reminder that there are photos all around us. I really enjoyed that book…his personality really comes through in it as well.

    • JB March 25, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

      Thank you Howard. It was you that mentioned it in one of your excellent blog posts as I recall. Thanks for the thumbs up! Funny there are some negative reviews which I don’t understand. Its not a book about technique and maybe that is what they are looking for. For me, it is a great book about the more important things about photography…

      • Howard Grill March 25, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

        Yes, the technique books are a dime a dozen. Certainly important but they don’t address creativity. There is only one Jay Maisel….or John Barclay and Dan Sniffen for that matter. Come to think of it there is only one everybody, which I guess is why we can go to Death Valley and no two pictures look alike. That has always made looking at other people’s pictures fun; the fact that we can all be in the same place and yet see things so differently. Anyway I do really love your shot!!

  10. Peggy W March 26, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    John, I totally agree with your comments. What I was thinking is that you made a conscious choice to shoot at an angle. The designers of the plate and those who installed it were all working with squares. You saw the abstraction and went with it.

    • JB March 26, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

      Ah! Got it… Thanks for clarifying. So you’re saying the engineers would be mortified!! 🙂

  11. Flint Sparks March 26, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    Looks like mindful photography to me, spontaneously opening and flourishing gently.

  12. Peggy W March 27, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    John, your abstract is wonderful and considering the subject is so unexpected. It kind of reminds me of when Bill looked at a blue roof and saw so much more. Your photographs and humor always remind me of things that are important!

    • JB March 27, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

      Thank you Peggy. I always appreciate your comments and kind thoughts.

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