Proof in the Pudding
I knew then and there that it would be a strong image. Now, 6 months later, I can judge it objectively and the assessment stands: it’s a picture that gives me great satisfaction, and I think it will be one of those that stand the test of time. Being as it was, shot on the very last day of our Burma adventure, it pretty much sums up the whole trip, one of the best of recent years. Yet beyond that, it’s an image that in a nutshell defines how I work; the proof in the pudding that all we’ve been talking about in these Composition Tutorials works. Inspiration spawned an idea, which I translated into reality via the process of previsualization, planning and waiting for the Decisive Moment. After a month of shooting every day I was on a roll, seeing and working well, making pictures happen. It’s a happy place to be as a photographer; it’s a pity it can’t continue forever.
We’d been to Shwedagon at the start of the trip, so I knew the location. An idea of how I could use the strong shapes of the golden spires and the patterns in the marble paving lit by the early morning light had formed. However, I knew for the shot to be lifted beyond a mildly pleasing architectural study I would need some random human element; quite what that would be was in the Lap of the Gods. More monks were always an option in Burma, but I was a touch ‘monked out’ after a month of shooting orange robes. I resolved to set up the tripod in the soft light of dawn with my precise composition all framed up and just wait to see who would walk through my frame. It’s a way of working that often produces magic in Asia.
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