Central Park flower beard.

by Tim Soter

I spontaneously made this photo in the park this week.  I took about twelve more slight variations on this theme, very quickly in succession, but this was the first one that I made.  I couldn’t see exactly how it was being framed so I was just kind of winging it.

When I got back home and looked at them all I realized that the first shot (above) was the best one and was IMMEDIATELY disappointed.  I, the subject, was out of focus.  At second glance I noticed the runner far in the background and while that was disappointing in it’s own right, I thought, “oh, I’ll just clone that out in two seconds.”  The out-of-focus “problem” was more severe.  I if shared this photo would people think, “Yeah, great job – it’s not even in focus…”

Years ago I took a photo of a falcon on my arm (BELOW) with a rare point and shoot camera that I was in love with.  I showed the shot and others to a fellow photographer friend and when he came to that one he laughed bitterly, ” the subject’s right and the middle and it (expensive rare Japanese camera) can’t even get it in focus.”  To be honest it was so slight on the 4×6 print that I had missed it, but his sharp heckling had touched a very sensitive nerve apparently because I haven’t forgotten how that felt.  It was personal.

Spontaneous accidents (misfocus) that happen in photography are one of the most, if not the most wondrous aspects of the medium.  Intuitively I know this, but it’s easy to be distanced from that fact with digital photography (see previous POST.)  That runner in the background, sharp as a tack adds something to this image.  Additionally there’s a long history of playing with out-of-focus foreground imagery and of course…

It’s photography.  It doesn’t need to be justified to anyone.  When you take yourself too seriously you get locked in a rut.  Photography is a tool for (self) discovery.

This all comes on a week when I was lucky enough to be asked back to teach at FIT for this Fall semester.  You better believe that I’ll be bringing this up, warts and all.