I watched an old documentary about legendary Hollywood glamour photographer George Hurrell over christmas. During a shoot with Sharon Stone, Sharon commented that whilst other photographers take hundreds of shots George takes three frames – and each one is good.
In the world of digital photography there is no film to run out of. As a result we can take as many photos as we want during a session. And it is easy to get carried away and forget to select the shots you take rather than just firing off a sequence of shots in hopes that one of them will be the right one. In the world of George Hurrell all of the work is done prior to actually taking the picture. The exposure is just a means of capturing his creation. I’m not saying this process isn’t constantly ongoing during a photo shoot, but looking back on the time when I did put film in my camera there is a big difference when it comes to knowing when I’ve “got it”. I remember having a very strong sense of knowing what frame out of the 12 on a roll would be the one I liked in the end.
I still get that same feeling, but it isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be. For me this is mainly due to the fact that we can now check our photos instantly on the back of the camera or on a monitor. Even your client and/or subject can check to see that they agree the image has been caught. Don’t get me wrong – there are many many advantages of shooting digitally. But the downside is that you no longer have to trust your gut. And therefore I think it’s easy to rely on the security of knowing rather than feeling it.
In 2013 I bought my first Hasselblad. In 2014 I intend to let George Hurrell inspire me to look for that frame through the lens a bit more carefully.