An Eye For Photography

Every so often an amateur photographer will write to me with comments on my images or to ask for advice. I enjoy both, even if the comments are negative, because I like to understand what about my images turn people on or off.

In most cases, if my reader includes a website or Flickr account, I check it out. I invariably enjoy the images, which give me insights into the person, his or her likes and dislikes, and their eye for photography. It’s one of the more enjoyable aspects of what I do.

Once in a while I am impressed by a reader’s images and have blogged about that individual’s work. But once in a very, very great while a reader’s images will, quite simply, blow me away.

That was the case a few months back when James Winters commented on my work. We corresponded back and forth for a while and I came to find out that James lives in a geodesic dome in Maine that I actually visited a few times as a starving doctoral student when it was being built by one of my friends back in 1976! How’s that for synchronicity, or whatever you’d call it?

In any event, Jim is fairly new to DSLR photography, but he managed to pick up a Nikon with a couple of lenses. Many of Jim’s images are solidly good, but fairly ordinary, as he is learning to master his hobby. Frankly, a small percentage of his images I would have culled if they were my albums. But then there are images on his site— lots of them— that are so wonderful they grab at your heart. I’ve asked Jim for permission to write about him and to highlight a sampling of his images to show you how they affect me.

First, the gestalt; the cumulative effect of Jim’s work is to show how much family means to him. His shots of people, kids in particular, are fresh, candid and full of life’s magic moments. With eleven (!) children, a wife and tons of friends, Jim has ample subject matter, to be sure. But it’s the joys and disappointments that he captures in everyday moments that makes his work stand apart. If you spend time in his world, and there is abundant opportunity with thousands of images, you gain a sense of his children’s personalities, some impish, some quiet and restrained. You also get a glimpse into the frenetic, loving and creative home that Jim and his wife, Laura, have crafted.

I thought I would comment on each image, relating what I like about each. But as I thought on it, I believe the  best way to go is to just post a bunch of Jim’s images and let YOU, my readers, comment first. Then I’ll chime in with my responses. As always, click on an image to enlarge it.

This next one, though, I can’t refrain from commenting on. To me, this is simply an amazing image. Is it the blur of the boy active on the swing? The girl standing and watching, wearing a “traditional” dress. The expression on the face of the girl? But above all, I see a story here, a yearning on my part to know what is going on. Who are they? What is the girl thinking? What is the setting? And that’s the beauty of photography; it is at its best when it tells a story.

When you have the chance, go to: and randomly go through his work. If nothing else, Jim’s body of work shows me that one doesn’t have to be a pro to get meaningful, dramatic results, even from life’s everyday moments. Jim does what he does in photography simply for the joy of capturing those special family moments and sharing them with his extended network of friends and family. For that, we are all grateful.

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