Overall I quite enjoyed the exhibition, but what I found most interesting was seeing notes from Tony Ray-Jones’ journals, as well as a backlit wall full of his contact sheets with marks showing which pictures to choose for prints. It was so fascinating to get an insight into the thinking process of a famous photographer, and so encouraging to see that I’m not the only one overshooting and then having a hard time selecting the best photos.
Today I want to focus on a few notes taken by Tony Ray-Jones titled ‘Approach’. His points really resonated with me, and I think they relate to any kind of photographer who has been taking photos for a while and is learning.
So, here is an extract of what Tony Ray-Jones wrote, in my own words, addressed to myself and to anyone wanting to grow:
1. Be patient and talk to the people you’re photographing. If you’re photographing people (especially if you’re working on a story) you can’t just expect getting a whole bunch of great photos without investing time and effort into it. It’s important to spend time with the people you’re photographing, and really listen to them.
2. Take simpler pictures, be aware of composition and play with it. I often find that the best pictures are the simple ones. It’s a skill keeping it simple even if there’s a lot going on. And being able to keep it simple comes from varying your composition and playing around with it.
3. Don’t take boring pictures. Be creative.
4. Don’t shoot too much. Well, just what I mentioned above.
5. Don’t shoot middle distance and on eye level all the time. It’s easy to get comfortable shooting on eye level and not trying out different viewpoints. The same is true for shooting middle distance, which seems to come easily. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone and shoot more close-ups as well as more long distance shots. In general vary the style of shooting.
I find these points very interesting to look at and think about. They all relate to me, and I hope you can relate to at least some of them as well. As I always say, it’s good to challenge ourselves in order to grow. So let’s see this list as an encouragement on our way to becoming better photographers, just as Tony Ray-Jones was trying to improve as well.