When I began photography I was most interested in photographing people I did not know, but I had no idea how to do so. And then I saw the photographs of Robert Frank showing everyday life rather than news events or celebrities. The next day I photographed a parade of children and their pets in Palo Alto, CA. I was disappointed with the results and threw away the negatives. My timing was off - way off. I realized that for the type of candid I was interested in, it was often critical to take the picture before the person could choose how to react to the event. I continue to photograph parades and festivals, but have become much happier with my timing and the subsequent results.
Working close creates a dramatic perspective that is unobtainable by any other method, especially when using a wide angle lens. I am most comfortable using ones that have an angle of view of 84 -104°, working 3 feet or closer to my main subject. I don’t pose them or talk with them while taking their picture, but they know I am there. The closer I shoot the faster I need to decide when to shoot and continue to only shoot before the person can make a choice how to react to my presence.
When I take candid photographs I think a lot about the whole history of candids in painting and photography. While Robert Frank’s photographs remain my dominant influence I also think about the 1960s photographs of Garry Winogrand and Tony Ray Jones as well as the Dutch genre painting of Pieter Bruegel the Elder from the mid 1500s. In Bruegel’s work he shows a very large group of people engaged in a variety of unrelated activities. I very much like working with the concept of showing two or more people in a frame involved in unrelated activities in a frozen moment of time.
Like many other photographers one my main objectives is to show that which is invisible when viewing the world without a camera. Cameras show motion in a way our eyes cannot see - blurred motion and stop action. They also allow us to see two people where one is in focus and the other is out of focus and to vary the degree of focus. Lenses allow one to change the way we perceive the distance between two people. With a wide angle lens two people look further apart than the way our eyes see it and with a long lens two people look closer together. The three used together help create something that is invisible to our eyes. The result of this process is often dreamlike.