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on Mar 26, 2010 in Friday Thoughts, Simple Click

Simple Click

The room is dark and packed with eyes staring at the screen. By the light of the monitor you can see the character on the face of the presenter as he views his own images. The images appear on the screen one at a time and at a pace dictated by the presenter’s index finger tapping on the keyboard. You can hear a chair in the audience squeak as the room is otherwise dead silent. The audience is riveted by what they see on the screen with only a word or phrase said here and there, the show unfolds. Very few words are spoken during the fifteen minute presentation as none are really required. The photographs speak for themselves. The images, choice images taken in the last six months of New York life, feel the screen, the air and the imagination of all the viewers. While never the same images, I’ve seen this presentation over a dozen times and each and every time I’m just left in awe. Jay Maisel, who is called the father of color photography is the inspiration of the Simple Click.

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If you’re a Moose Blog follower then you know about the Simple Click but perhaps not the story behind it. Jay Maisel is the master of the simple click. He’s images of NY life that he captures by always, always carrying a camera with him (D3 / 70-300VR) is the very essence of the simple click. No lights, no reflectors, just using the faces and places of New York as a canvas for the amazing light he finds on his travels. And for me he tops this off in his presentation with little or no words. The photographs carry the entire burden of saying the words. And isn’t that at the heart of our photography? Or better put, shouldn’t that be the heart of our photography?


Now before you get any idea that I’m some genius with the addition of Simple Clicks to the blog, keep in mind that my Simple Clicks was born just six months ago after seeing my last Jay Maisel presentation. That means I had seen it a dozen times before and after seeing those dozen, the idea never took seed. The message I fear was lost on me. Here’s our challenge, to not just learn all it is to be a photographer (you know, that technical stuff), it’s not to just get out behind the lens all we can (though that is essential), but to take in all the stimulation we get and put it into the click. And what better than a simple click?
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Personally, I think the majority of photographers take photography just damn too seriously. Seriously! With few exceptions like the content of Pulitzers and the like, most of what we do as photographers is create entertainment. We might be creating education with our clicks, but we’re not solving the world’s problems with our clicks, we’re simply sharing the fortunes we are so fortunate to see with others not as fortunate. We’re telling a story, the story of our life and that of the moment’s experience all wrapped up in 1/250 sliver of time. If we’re successful, that story will reach out and touch the viewer of our image and grab them as the moment originally touched us. But this is all entertainment and if we expect to make the experience for our viewer fun, don’t we have to have fun doing it? And if that’s the case, don’t we have the most fun, the greatest enjoyment in most things in life when it’s simple? My dad thank goodness pounded many things in my head, one that really took was the KISS theorem. Keep It Simple Stupid.


The Simple Click was originally posted because, well, to be honest, as a quick way to get a posting up when I had no time. I picked an image I felt told its own story and needed nothing more from me after the click to grab you. I lucked out, it worked and keeps working it seems with most images. Jay planted the seed of keeping things simple and provided the recipe, I just had to follow it. But the response to the Simple Click still blows me away. And what is the Simple Click, it’s no more than what Jay does every day in every way, carry a camera and when light and life strikes, go click!

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We had a participant on our January Yellowstone Adventure who has joined us on many a DLWS. At DLWS, we go through camera technique to the digital darkroom finishing techniques in the pursuit of the gorgeous landscape photo. But when shooting wildlife, all the work, all the stress, all the finishing for me is done at the moment I go click (my wildlife images don’t see PS). The Simple Click. This is what I teach when out with folks shooting wildlife. The Simple Click. This participant though has for a long time dealt with the “pressure” of the digital darkroom for finishing so photography went beyond the click and in some ways, had become a drag because of this extra after hours work. Half way through the week in Yellowstone, you could see what seemed to be a great weight lifted off his shoulders. Yellowstone tends to do that, it’s part of its magic. I asked though what was up and to paraphrase, he said he now felt free again, that his photography without all the trappings of post processing was fun and rewarding for him. He had forgotten that joy. The Simple Click!
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Photography can come with a lot of trappings. All these lenses, this body, those accessories and every imaginable tool and toy for post are available for those willing to shell out the dead presidents. I’m the first to admit that it is really easy to circum to these addictions of photography and get hooked. And in that quest to have the latest, the best, the most treasured, perhaps comes the pressure to take photography so seriously. Perhaps that’s why Simple Clicks is so popular, giving some permission to not be serious, to just enjoy what it is to be a photographer. I think that’s what Jay did for me, said it was alright to be a photographer again and make it all happen at the moment it clicks with what HE so apply calls color, light and gesture. The man is a genius, a one of a kind and a photographer documenting the complexities of life on a daily bases in its simplest forms, with a simple click!