I begin this blog as one always should, by expressing gratitude; I wish to recognize and thank my first and most constant mentor, George DeWolfe.
His mentoring began back when we were both shooting b&w film, and it continued into the digital age. He has now retired and has taken down most of the images that he had formerly posted, but his website still has some quite valuable educational material. I can highly recommend his two recent books, “Digital Photography Fine Printing Workshop” and “B&W Printing.”
When I took workshops from him, he presented us with a mantra that has proved useful to me: Be Still, Observe Everything, Desire Nothing.
Be Still: George was the first to teach me to slow down and curb my impatient impulses. Unless one slows down, the second step of the mantra is impossible.
Observe Everything: It is certainly possible to take an excellent photo by accident, but that is not a good long term strategy. Instead, one must recognize that one can’t take a photo unless one sees it. Only by slowing down and observing everything, will one be able to see the best opportunities for finding good photographs.
Desire Nothing: This third maxim is easy to misunderstand. The best photos always spring from a passionate emotional response to the world in front of us. George DeWolfe does not mean to deny this. What he is asking us to do is to make our response be single minded and pure. We shouldn’t be thinking about fame and fortune, about adulation and praise, while we are engaged in the photography. If we do, we will lose touch with what is in front of us. We should desire nothing other than that which is in front of us.