Slow down


I stood before the window, admiring the artwork, camera in hand, sun behind my back. As i began to focus the shot i could see a man walk by me and then linger to my right. 'Is that a Polaroid camera?' he asked, and i sighed a little sigh inside my head and turned to face him.
'Yes it is,' I said, and we launched into a bit of small talk about the age of my camera and how difficult it was to find film for it.
'I'm a photographer,' he said, and as if to prove his words he reached into his bag, pulling out a hefty Nikon DSLR with a huge zoom lens attached.
'Gosh, that's a big one,' i said with a smile.
'Yes,' he said, the innuendo flying over his head and off along the Bath skyline. 'You're going to get your reflection in the shot.'
'That's the plan,' I said, returning to my focussing.
'I don't think i could avoid it even with this camera,' he continued, pointing his vast lens towards the window. I could hear the autofocus beeping. He took six or seven shots in quick succession and then peered into the screen on the back of his camera. 'Nope, it doesn't work.'
I pressed the shutter button once and turned to give him the international sign for please leave me alone now: a polite smile and raised eyebrows. As i stood with my Polaroid developing in my hands, he took the hint and carried on his way, big camera in hand.

I looked down at my photograph and saw exactly what i'd seen through the lens: not the best picture i'd ever taken, but the reflection was just as I'd wanted it. Sometimes you just have to slow down and look with fresh eyes.

Link: The Impossible Project on the BBC website (the video clip explains how Polaroid film works)

22 responses
  1. Tamara

    I read this today:
    I love the photo & I love the colours.

  2. Lu

    Loved this story.

  3. pixie

    I’m so going to borrow that international sign. I’m much too accomodating!
    Thank you for all…

  4. Debi

    My landlord/closest neighbor is a hotshot commercial photographer & art photographer. Several years ago he was hired to shoot a photo of an insurance building here in town. Ugly building, no architectural beauty, no gorgeous landscaping, nothing. Nada. Pondering the problem for a bit, he realized that a return at sunset would work – the building would be bathed in the light of the sun as it fell, the sky behind it a darker blue, etc., etc. So return he did and as he was setting up for the shot, a man walked up to him – “If you come back tomorrow morning”, the man told him, “you’ll have better light.” Whereupon he was scatted away by my friend, who then took the shot – still used in the insurance company’s advertising. You just have to listen to yourself. Thank you for being such a large part of convincing me of that.

  5. charlane

    i’m reminded of a saying by dorothea lange which i will paraphrase. she had been asked by someone what is her favorite camera. her tart reply was that hand her any camera and she could take the picture – it’s the artist that makes the shot, not the camera.
    does wolfgang puck (or jamie oliver) cook better because they have copper pots? or could jamie cook something delish in tinfoil packet.
    yes, i think they could.

  6. leonie

    that’s an awesome shot, you have an amazing eye.
    i love the quote in that bbc article:
    “I often say God must be a lover of instant photography,” says Mr Kaps, “because the major issues, finding all the components, they are pretty much solved.”

  7. S

    i dont know why but your blog is becoming really boring lately…it used to be amazing, and now the posts are just getting dull and boring! you need to bring back the appeal it once had!!!

  8. Jon

    This is exactly why I’m in love with film now. It’s such a challenge these days to just……………… slow…… down. Great story.

  9. Susannah

    thanks for your comment, S – what, in your opinion, would make this blog more appealing to you? Maybe it’s time to read some other blogs that are more exciting than mine? Blogs are written by regular people, remember, not an editorial team with a big budget and tons of ideas… i lead a quiet life!

  10. fresh365

    I couldn’t agree with S less! I was so pulled in by both the image (great reflection!) and this story (I reread it twice!).

  11. Roxanne

    Love it.
    size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with what you’ve got that counts, isn’t it? ;^)

  12. Marianne @ Zen Peacekeeping

    Hilarious story – told with your usual delicious wit. A perfect illustration of the well-worn saying Roxanne refers to…

  13. k8et

    I think that sign is not completely international… in my experience only can a brit do that, and have another brit understand and comply.
    Where I am, it’s a scowl or a piercing glance, followed by a certain finger if the recipient does not understand. gotta love new jersey :D
    while i may have a big(ger) camera, i would never assume I knew what another photographer wanted or didn’t want in their own work, just because I wouldn’t want them doing the same to me.

  14. Pebbledash

    Love the pic, and the story. And if you think you lead a quiet life, you should try mine!!
    Happy (peaceful) weekend

  15. vanessa joie

    This story warms my heart.

  16. Mary A

    Not bored while smiling.
    Smiling some more.

  17. Ayurveda

    This is very adorable blog.
    Thank you to share this one with whole world.
    This is one of my articles about Ayurveda..

  18. denise

    What’s up with those long lens types ; )
    I agree with all who have mentioned something about the photographer’s eye being much more important than the camera. I’ve used all sorts of cameras, from large format with the big black cloth over my head to a tiny Polaroid i-zone. I’ve made photographs I adore as well as my fair share of so/so photographs with all types of cameras.
    It seems like you are enjoying yourself and that’s all that really matters.

  19. susanna

    *grin* Well, this has me smiling.

  20. m

    snork ! ahem I do wonder sometimes what appendages certain photographers are making up for with huge super focuses lenses.
    I’m sorry but whenever I seem someone with an enormous camera I think ‘bet the result is dull and crap’

  21. Jennifer Evans

    This post makes me smile. Some of us are left brained and the other right… my husband and I make a great team. He is left and reminds me all the time about those things. But I am right and have to remind him that perfection is not what I want to see when I look through the view finder. I want to capture what I see with my eye… the beauty around us. Even if that means I have reflection or(gasp!) sun flare in my photo. ;)

  22. la marquise des anges

    thnak you for sharing this lovely blog post .. I love your work and your blog is really great …

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