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The Fleeting Moment

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
2 min read

This weekend was unusually warm in the midwest. The city of Chicago was enveloped in fog and the streets were filled with families…and photography workshops.

I was on a mission; pushing a stroller with one hand and composing with my iPhone in the other. I was attempting to put into practice a new theory I had for my own work.

I broke one of my own rules a few posts ago, by writing too simply and not clearly enough. Here’s what I wrote:

“Longevity in photos has become inversely proportional to the lack of longevity in the subject.”

Some got it, some asked questions and one person was interested enough to debate the subject with me on Twitter. I realized that I needed to explain myself further, just like when you realize you have to explain a joke because you’ve failed to tell the joke.

I’ve spent most of my 20+ years in photography on zone system landscapes. Now, as I digitize and archive that collection, I realize most of the subjects I captured appear exactly the same today as the day I took the original photo.

Add to that, the amount of photographers traveling those same back trails has increased exponentially.

This means, even if I were a modern day Ansel Adams, my best photos from those years have probably been duplicated by dozens of like-minded photographers.

So, what about photography is still scarce? Well, one thing you can always count on to be scarce are subjects that won’t be the same in 10 years or even 10 seconds; the fleeting moments. This sounds like an obvious theory, but, judging from the photos I see on social networks, it must not be.

For those who take naturally to people-based photography, this theory is nothing new and easy to implement. But for those of us who tell stories sans people (including landscape, architecture and abstract photographers), the search must begin for fleeting moments within our favorite subjects.