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The photographer’s most important tool

I was once told that the most important tool in the photographer’s kit is the u-turn. It has turned out to be one of the most valuable tools I have. Each of these photos exists because of the u-turn. If you don’t stop and get the shot when you see it, a thousand words won’t let you show it to the world.

The Fisherman’s House. I was on assignment in Vietnam photographing for Indochine Style, a book showcasing design, architecture, and style in Vietnam and Laos. We stopped for lunch and saw this colorful cottage sitting in the middle of this emerald rice field. This shot of the interior is the result of stopping and exploring.

Catching the Mist. I saw this scene on when we were traveling from Hoi An to My Son. I asked the driver to stop so I could photograph the nets. In a few minutes I’d captured a great shot and then saw At Rest as I was heading back to the car. Both of these photos have won awards in the International Photography Awards (IPA).

Taco Vendor. We were in Todos Santos photographing for the Rancho Pescadero Hotel and were gathering some local color at a fall festival. I almost passed this vendor without taking his picture. The u-turn saved the evening.

The Lone House in the Field. Road trips are the best. I was on a road trip from Ely, Minnesota to Mill Valley, California with two eleven-year-old boys. I’d start driving before sunrise when the boys were asleep in the back. I saw this scene, made a u-turn, and got the photograph before the boys even woke up.

Relaxed Color. Another one of those cases of photographing one thing, traveling to the next venue, and seeing a perfect shot on the way. I asked the driver to stop, walked across the road, and photographed this beautiful young girl relaxing in the doorway.

Stopping, turning around, taking an extra few minutes to record the event – That’s the importance of the u-turn!

  • Sabina Knotter-Finney - April 8, 2011 - 8:12 am

    Great story – love the pics. Have fun in Mendocino this weekend, hope it is going to be a great photographic workshop. Weather should be nice!


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