I suppose it’s safe to say that being sensitive to the visual environment that surrounds us is an occupational hazard of being a photographer. Having an acute consciousness of light, composition and moments to be captured come with the territory. As I write this, I’m so often distracted to look out the window into the bright sunlit snow piled more than a foot high on a neighbor’s rooftop, every so often seeing a burst of wind swirl the dusty powder into beautiful whirlwinds that are just as suddenly gone.
An important part of composing a sports photograph, which I tend to attempt most often, has to do with finding a way to make sure the subject is cleanly set apart from all other objects in the image. The subject is the hero and anything else that is in the frame needs to add to the story. If it doesn’t add to the story, it’s a distraction.
So there’s always the wish to either find a “clean” background, if there’s not a background that puts the event in context.
That’s not always so easy. Call me hyper-sensitive, but I can’t help but believe that as a society we’re not selective enough about what visual elements we wish to add to the environment or not. It seems everyone wants to get their name, or identity or brand out to gain attention. As a someone who’s worked in the field of advertising, I get it.
That doesn’t mean I have to agree with it. Here’s a recent example. I was on the Greenway bike path today. First, a shout out to the City workers with the snow plow attached to their municipal pickup truck. The Greenway is beautifully plowed and packed down. It’s a virtual bike highway, with today’s temps hovering in the single digits, traffic was down some.
But as I rode along the bikeway, I couldn’t help notice the recent visual pollution taking place.