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This isn't to say that it's a bad photo. It might be excellent – the best of its kind. (Not this one in particular, of course, but hypothetically.) But there are certain photos that basically take themselves, with little input from the photographer. Hence, "self-taking photos". These are the photos we see all the time – out in the world and on sharing sites.

I like this photo of the subway coming into the station. It feels like the city, and it's going to be a part of how I remember it. But take a dozen people on a "photowalk" that involves a subway ride and three or four of them are going to produce essentially identical photos. Yes, I like dragging the shutter, yes, I like moving vehicles, and yes, if I submitted this anonymously to my critique group most of them would still know that it's mine.

But there isn't really much "me" in here.

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This is absolutely me.

The basic camerawork hasn't changed – the same small camera pressed up against something to stabilize it during a quarter-to-half-second exposure, recording a burst of photos because they're impossible to anticipate. Neither particularly took any skill; if anything the subway station was more demanding, since I had to choose what angle to point the camera in, and hold it steady under trickier conditions. This photo, taken as that same subway traversed a bridge, just needed the camera to be pressed up against the glass.

But long exposures with the camera pressed up against the glass of a moving transit vehicle is absolutely me.

I'm not saying this is a unique insight that I alone have discovered. I'm also not saying that this photo, because it reflects my own particular quirks, is somehow superior or imbued with some essence that demands respect. But it's mine – I recorded it, and it isn't such an obvious idea that I'd expect to see a bunch of them that look like this in the post-photowalk slide show. I took it. It didn't just take itself.


This is also hinting at a couple of things that have been important to me recently.

My aspirational goal is to record photos that don't just look like the thing that I'm photographing. If I can photograph what something feels like, I'd rather do that. To me these both feel like what they are: the end of waiting for a train at the end of a long day; glancing up at the evening light as the train passes over the viaduct. They're records of the experiences, not record shots.

But that's not my highest aspiration. Even more than photographing the experience of something, there's photographing its meaning. I'm not there yet. But it's worth trying.

And the other thing that these photos are hinting at, beyond my buying a GRiiiX? That's something I'll look at in another month or two.