Sometimes I feel as if I'm shooting the same picture over and over again. I go out on a bright sunny day and the minute I see some sort of geometric interplay between light and shadow I get all excited. I do all I can to position myself in such a way that everything seems to fall into place so well that you can't imagine any element being anywhere other than exactly where it is. If a human being is part of the composition, so much the better.
I could shoot like this for days on end. Given the opportunity, I would. I also think nothing of loitering around a particular scene for minutes at a time, waiting for the light to be just right or for someone with just the right colored clothing to walk past. Sometimes I'm lucky and get the shot I'm waiting for, sometimes I'm not. I'll tell you this: I'm lucky often enough to believe the adage that good luck favors the prepared.
To some this qualifies as borderline obsessive behavior. To me it's a sign I'm on the right track. I've learned over the years that talent is all well and good, but if you want to excel at something you've got to give it all you've got; live it and breath it; understand it to an extent that "normal" people find strange; practice it to the degree that you make it look easy when in fact it is anything but. You learn to swim in a pool that may not be all that large, but is as deep as you want it to be.
There's contrast in this photo too, but in this case the contrast is less about the bars in the background and more between the clothed, burly male in the foreground and the nude woman in the background. Once again, this theme is often repeated in my work.
If you want evidence, consider Ansel Adams and his western landscapes, Ralph Gibson's dreamscapes, Arnold Newman's portraits, Henri Cartier-Bresson's street photos, Elliot Erwitt's dogs, Diane Arbus' misfits... I could on like this for paragraphs. I'm sure I don't have to. Just consider this: For all their photos you've seen and are familiar with, they have hundreds more just like them that were almost-but-not-quite-good-enough for publication.
(By the way, this is why I have sympathy for photographers who can't seem to bring themselves to trash their borderline photos and instead they save them in the hope of future discovery and rescue. Obsessions aren't something you can simply switch on and off. At best they lie dormant, waiting for just the right spark to set them ablaze.)
So the question I'd like to ask in today's post is this: What's your obsession? What moves you to pick up your camera and venture forth, either into the world or into your studio? If you're lucky, it's something so characteristic of you that if someone familiar with you work was to see it, he or she would say, "I know exactly who took this picture."