Those three young kids ruined the photo I was taking but gave me one so much better.
This photograph, taken last summer at the local firemen’s carnival, is part of my Smalltown: Carnival series. Originally I had framed a shot that included only the older boys. But since I keep both eyes open when I’m looking through the viewfinder (which admittedly sort of freaks out my portrait clients,) I saw those carefree youngin’s about to hoof through my shot. I wasn’t certain, but I had the feeling there was something worth waiting for. Wait, I demanded and held my breath. Shutter finger twitching. Wait, I insisted repeatedly, squirming under all that out-of-character patience. “Now!” And I pressed the shutter.
Those kids became the “it” in this photo. They’re not the subject per se, but become part of it as they introduce a whole new visual and conceptual layer and shift the tension and contrast. They might be what Jay Maisel refers to as the gesture in a photograph.
I left the carnival a few moments after taking this shot, and I left happy. It stands as a personal favorite.