This fabulous photo was taken by my friend Ted Carter at Jazzfest 2013, and does everything a picture should do. It captures the spirit of the moment. It says more about Jazzfest and New Orleans than a thousand words could ever do. Literally.
Back when I was into photography, my sister gave me a book from National Geographic about nature photography, which had a cliché sort of quote in it. The saying is that the secret to taking good pictures is “F-8 and be there”. For those of you who were born later than, say, 1992, “F” refers to F-stop. That’s a complicated formula best described as “focal length” But never mind. Just buy the best digital camera you can get and go for it. Just take my word for it that F-8 is in the middle of the range, and it’s kind of a photography joke.
Recently, blog friend Vanessa Chapman did a post about how photographers are so mysteriously disdained. They get compliments such as “Wow! You must have a really good camera!” Argghh.
Between F-8 and be there, be there is the most important half. But being there is not enough. You have to SEE it. You can look at something without seeing it. You have to see its possibilities. A great photo captures one moment in time that will never happen again in exactly that same way. You can take a picture of an immovable object like a statue, but even that will never be the same. Because it will be a different moment, in different light. Light is the essence. When you take a picture, you aren’t capturing the subject, you are capturing light.
Instead of a statue, when you take a picture of a moving person or animal, now you are truly talking about something that will never happen again. You could do the same dance and smile the same way, but your hip will never be in that exact same position, the scarf won’t twirl the same way. Ted captured a moment in time that will never be repeated, and told us everything we need to know about Jazzfest and New Orleans.