Listen to My Eyes

In Film, Inspiration
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Laura wrote a little while ago about the inspiration she gained from the online Masters of Photography course taught by Joel Meyerowitz that we took together earlier this spring. Today it’s my turn.

Full disclosure, I’m not at all an impartial reviewer. I admire Joel Meyerowitz’s work beyond measure because he chose color over black and white when serious photographers didn’t, in part because they didn’t, and then set out to demonstrate just how much depth and emotion and wit and intelligence a color frame could convey. Turns out it’s just as much as the real life it’s cleaved from when done properly. So for me, there was no small bit of hero worship happening as I moved through the video lessons. I expected to gain most from the technical lessons, but instead what I found most inspiring was Meyerowitz’s energy  – his enthusiasm for people, for beauty, for living, for seeing and for photographing all that delighted him – the act of tearing slices of life out of the slip stream to hold, share and revisit. It was completely contagious, and it fired me up to get out with a camera more than anything in recent memory.

Lesson by lesson he urged me from my comfortable sidelines, closer to the crowd, as I shared in my last post. But when I saw those scans I realized that while I was moving in the right direction, I still wasn’t IN it with the crowd. So the next time I went out shooting, at the Cherry Blossom Parade and Japanese Street Fair that closes out Washington, DC’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, I pushed myself to go even closer. Honestly, in the shooting, it really felt way too close.

Again, as last time, the photos didn’t all hit, though more did this time, so I’m making progress. I do feel I’m transitioning into something new that feels risky, and a bit unresolved, and I wonder if in some small way that energy translates from photographer to photograph. I do understand that I can’t photograph the kinds of connection or juxtaposition that I find myself drawn to right now from a distance.

I will eventually go back through the MOP videos, so I can see if Joel actually said this, or if it’s, instead, something I extrapolated from his words, but I have a line in my notebook in all caps that reads,


These days my eyes keep saying, “a little closer, Debbie, just a little bit closer.”


  1. I just signed up for the course as well! I totally understand your hesitation to get into the crowd — it feels so chaotic, especially for someone like me who focuses on small details. But I’m going to push myself and hopefully I can get some images as rich as these. xo

  2. It is so rare that I have the opportunity to shoot in a crowd or city scene and when I do I find myself hesitant to intrude with my camera. I admire that you are listening to your intuition and going outside of your comfort zone!

  3. I never get close enough; it feels like I am encroaching, and what if someones says something. But you have inspired me to give it try with this colorful photos. And that class, I keep looking.

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