What do you think while you are waiting to take pictures?

We build our own personal universe

What do you think about during the long hours while you are waiting to take pictures? We have heard this question dozens of times. At first, we laughed at it, because we thought that people were laughing at us. It is not easy to answer this question. We never think about our job that way, but when we thought about it, we realized that over time, we have constructed a personal universe full of our dreams, thoughts, and ideas. Fortunately no one watches us during our photo shoots. Otherwise, they would probably try to send us to a therapist.

A photographer lost in thought contemplating a landscape in Charente-Maritime.

A photographer lost in thought contemplating a landscape in Charente-Maritime.

Two years of work and a lot of thoughts

Our 5 weeks trip in the Charente Maritime department on the west coast of France is almost done. After two years of work, the pictures we need for our exhibition and our next book are ready. It has taken a month of work to get the four photos that were missing from the series. We have achieved our goal.

This photo project is based on landscape photography from the coast of Charente. These shots require careful reconnaissance and spending lots of time taking pictures in the early morning and late evening. We often work as a team, but, oddly enough, we're hardly ever together. We photograph the same sites, but we do this in order to get different perspectives on the same landscape. We also apply this technique in underwater photography. When one of us has a wide angle lens, the other is equipped with a close-up lens. The way we work allows us to bring back many good pictures from one trip.

During these hours of waiting, we are alone with our equipment. Sometimes we sit still for hours. We do not have much else to do. We scour the skies, looking for the moment when the light strikes the landscape at the perfect angle. We are waiting to seize the moment when our picture will show this landscape at its best. We can’t listen to any music, because, oddly enough, we have to listen to the rustling and murmurs of nature. For example, early in the morning when the birds begin to sing, we know that the sun will rise soon. In the evening, when frogs begin to croak, we know that the light will soon be gone. Photography is not just about watching: you must also listen.

During these photo shoots, our senses are working at their peak: we look to the sky and listen to the environment, we evaluate the lighting and listen to the sounds of nature. But we still have plenty of time to think. Our thoughts range from deep philosophical questions to whatever nonsense words we have heard today. We often talk aloud to ourselves. It is a one-person dialogue. After all, dialogue is the best way to solve conflicts. In our case it is simple because we need to solve problems with ourselves. This may seem a bit absurd but with time we have found that 2 or 3 hours of time spent alone taking pictures can help us solve many problems.

Once we have dealt with the issues of the day, we move on to the philosophical stage of our dialogue. We try to answer some crucial questions like "What are we doing here?" "Where are we going?" "What could we do to improve the world?” and other critical issues.

Landscape photography is an invitation to deep thinking.

Landscape photography is an invitation to deep thinking.

Crucial questions

With these great metaphysical problems solved, we need to relax a little. This is the third phase: we sing. The songs range from Daniel Balavoine to Jean Jacques Goldman (French singers who write easy-to-remember songs) to a few bawdy songs from our youth. Anything goes. We especially do this during the winter. Singing is a great way to keep warm, and, over time, our repertoire has expanded a bit.

Between two deep thoughts or two songs, we take the opportunity to snap a few pictures. We rarely change the frames or compositions. We try to capture the changes in light and color over time. The most interesting thing is the fact that over two hours, we see a veritable rainbow of colors. For example, the colors of morning range from blue to bright red. We prefer to show the changes in how a landscape look over the day instead of taking pictures of a bunch of different things.

The life of a photographer, like that of any person, is not only concerned with their profession. We live in a very complex and tortuous universe. We are confident that if we did not have this inner life, we would not be able to see the what is around us as we do. Our inner life is the the reason that we can appreciate the beauty of all that is offered to us.

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