Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't Shoot the Mannequins!

When I first went to photography school back in the days of film, chemicals and light sensitive paper, there were some rules. For instance, in almost any class where we were given a shooting assignment, we were told not to photograph:

1. Mannequins
2. Barns
3. Bicycles

It might have been more interesting to be told that if we chose to photograph these ubiquitous subjects, do it in a way they have never been photographed before. Of course, that's an impossible task. But at least it would have encouraged us to consider more carefully how to approach a subject.

In this digital age it's far too easy to see something, think "wow, cool!" and fire off a shot before moving on to the next amazing thing. Snapping a photo can be more of a reflex than an intention. When I'm in that situation, overstimulated perhaps (as in India, almost every moment) it's important to take a breath and remember to be present. This is where my passion for photography intersects with my spirituality. Present moment, wonderful moment. I'm not always successful.

These mannequin's hands were in a window of a shop in the Indian neighborhood on Devon, in Chicago. As I raised my camera I could hear the cautionary voices of my previous teachers. Don't do it! But I did.


  1. Well of COURSE you do it! (And you're right -- the caution should have been to do it in a new and different way!) The thing about manniquins is who would want to just take a plain old shot of them (unless they were wearing something very fun)? But this works!


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