Never Say, "I'll Take It later!" April 13 2008, 0 Comments

Sometimes I laugh to myself as I recall so many things that others have shared with me, when I find myself in situations where I know what I need to do but…

There is always a but!

I few years ago, I was taking a class at the Maine Photographic workshops, called, “Seeing in Color.” The opportunity to see through the eyes of an instructor who had been teaching at the Maine Workshops for years, not to mention his experience at the Smithsonian, was an exciting prospect. Determined to learn all that he had to teach, I brought a tape recorder and a notebook.

Frank, an easy person to learn from, knows how to teach, critique, and encourage. His approach was gentle but we worked night and day. Up before dawn, we waited for the light along the shores of the Maine coast. Our cameras loaded with slide film, we had specific assignments for every shoot. (We used slide film because, if you make a mistake with your exposure, it shows! In my view, it is one of the best ways to learn to read the light.) We would shoot, process the images, then analyze the work. We had lectures at night.

One day, we were in a beautiful little port town. We were chatting away about the day and what we were capturing. Frank looked up and said, “Never say, I’ll take it later. If you see an image, take it NOW!” Of course I have learned over the years that the image in front of me will be different five minutes from now, ten minutes from now, the next day. It is sometimes tempting, if I have been working since 4:00 AM, to want to pass up a perfect late afternoon sky.

Recently, Frank’s words were ringing in my ears. After working all day, I was debating whether or not to head out to Drayton Hall, a beautiful plantation house I have been trying to photograph for some time. It is heavily visited and difficult to capture as a lone subject. If it is too sunny, the harsh light drowns out the brick’s brilliantly deep crimson colors.

On this particular day, however, just after 5:00 PM, the light was diffused behind billowing clouds. So, I drove up RT 61 hoping that the gate to Drayton Hall would still be open. Happily, it was! I explained that I just wanted to capture a few shots. I would not be long. “You have the place to yourself” Joe said to me. “The last bus has just pulled out.” Ten minutes later, I had what I had come for.

“Never say, I’ll take it later!” Thanks, Frank Lavelle. I think of you often and all that I learned.

The Drayton Hall image will be posted in the Charleston/Southern Landscapes Collection in mid June.