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  • Writer's picturePaul Kessel

The End of The Day

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

The end of the day is the best time to photograph on the street.  No, it has nothing to do with the quality of light. I find that frequently my best pictures are my last pictures. This happens too often to be a random occurrence.  I get my best pictures after I have given up for the day and I am on the way home. I am quite sure that the reason for this is that when I am finished, the quest for good pictures has ended.  Instead of trying hard to come up with something worthwhile, I stop trying and “trying” is the enemy of finding and seeing. This problem with trying cuts across all sorts of endeavors from sports to sex and everything in between. As soon as one “tries”, he or she is in the head and not fully attending to what is out there to be photographed. This phenomenon is nothing original. It has been discussed by social scientists for a long time. However, it is easily forgotten, and most people are geared to “work” at things rather than play. I use the word “play” because for me, street photography is a sport to be played and not so much a job to pressure oneself to succeed, which often involves constant “trying.”

If you take what I am saying seriously, you may try not to try. That won’t cut it. It is merely another form of trying. To stop trying involves letting go. In my opinion, it happens, or it doesn’t. I am aware that there are techniques to maximize the chances of more enhanced vision. For many people, applying approaches to mindfulness, becomes one more job to “try”. My opinion is that it may be best to simply wait for the opportunities and make the most of it. Even world class athletes rarely get “in the zone.”

Recently, I went out without a camera. I rarely do that. I saw all kinds of good “frames” (pictures), that I usually don’t see. This seems to be a bit of evidence to confirm that the quest for good photographs blocks observation and flow.

So, quit and go home. But keep your camera out.

Here are some of the photographs made after I was “finished’" for the day, and on the way to the subway or home.

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Dec 27, 2020

Hello Paul - I really want to know how you manage to take candid photos without people noticing you. Could you write something about how to be successfully sneaky? Lisa

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