This is the kind of shot I strove for during my first year of studying photography. The teacher was keen on the great photographers, Stieglitz, Strand, Cartier-Bresson and others. I enjoyed the lectures where he gave slide shows of famous photographs. He encouraged us to go to galleries in Los Angeles. My husband and I spent many lovely Saturday afternoons looking at photos and eating lunch at various ethnic restaurants on La Brea.
Emulating the shots of those famed men was difficult for me. My problem was that even when I had a good photo, I didn’t know it. I would look at my proof sheet (a print of the negatives from a roll of film) and I wouldn’t be able to tell the good from the bad. Most were bad, of course, but there was a gradation of bad and I didn’t know which were less bad.
Once I asked this same teacher (whom I didn’t really like as he was always inserting his politics into his lectures) to look at my proof sheet and tell me which negative to work on. He didn’t tell me I was great or talented, he just said that he didn’t think my shots were as bad as all that. That truthful assessment gave me heart and I continued trying with just a bit more self-confidence. I learned that when someone wants your opinion, you must never be negative, find the good in what they have done and emphasize that.