March — A Year in Photographs / by Adrian Galli

Three Months in...

And thirty-one photographs of people.

Yellow Coat – Day 61, Chicago, 3/2/2017

Yellow Coat – Day 61, Chicago, 3/2/2017

This month has been one of the most challenging endeavors I've experienced. While I'm very comfortable photographing people, fashion, and anything staged, the theme of March was 'people' and quickly turned into a month of street photography and my awareness of my opportunity in this area became readily apparent to myself.

Never have I felt comfortable photographing people without their consent. And my ultimate goal of this month wasn't street photography, or portraits, or whatnot. The subject of 'people' just meant people would be involved in the photograph.

Part of me became lazy and I rested on street photography despite my being uncomfortable with it as a genre. I spent more time out photographing to get "the shot" for the day but interestingly shot fewer photos. Closer toward the end of the month, my photography became much more intentional and less random. My hope is this is a sign of growth both photographically and creatively.

I learned a lot about myself and really pushed myself to be so bold as to photograph someone who clearly knew I was photographing them and perhaps not too thrilled with the prospect. While on the train one day, I'm pretty certain I made a woman uncomfortable enough that she abandoned her seat to stand far away from me. 

In her defense, I can not say I wasn't paying a lot of attention to her. She looked back at me several times with a scowl. In my defense, I wasn't interested in her face; she had a pristine Gucci handbag but her nails, while painted, we chipped from a week or two of wear. It would have made a beautiful photograph.

I also did not have a guest photographer all of this month. While I had discussed with a few friends the prospect, I focused mostly on independent work. In the end, I think this was great for my street photography growth.

Cristian Zuniga, another portrait not found in March.

Cristian Zuniga, another portrait not found in March.

As I found I was turning March into a street photography month, I tried to expand into some more abstract and portrait forms. Cristian Zuniga, a friend of mine, became my first subject. He may not know it, but I think he missed his called. Without much direction he clearly knows he looks good on camera and works his suave appearance easily.

The month has very little shot on iPhone. The wide-angle of the lens made it too much a challenge but a few iPhone photographs made their way in. I have decided over the past few years not to go with an iPhone plus model, the iPhone 7 Plus's telephoto lens would have been great this month. I spent most of the month with my Olympus in hand; on it, a 25mm or 45mm lens.

Most of this is irrelevant in the end. A Year in Photographs isn't about getting 365 absolutely incredible shots. This project is about learning about myself, pushing my skills, becoming more aware of the surrounding, and finding new skills.

In 2011, I directed a film in France, Karate-do: The Peaceful Way. While the film discussed many social, political, and philosophical ideas, one of the prospects that really has influenced my view of focus, in the sense of vision, comes from "soft eyes."

We, so much of our time, focus our vision so acutely, we don't see around us. In the film, it is discussed in the method of how one can not afford to have pinpoint focus when confronted by an opponent. Our vision is both central, what our eyes are focused on, and peripheral, that which we see but not focused. Our central vision is extraordinarily important to our visual acuity but many times we ignore their peripheral vision.

This month, at least in the sense of street photography, has taught me using "soft eyes" to break the barrier between central and peripheral vision is massively important as to not miss the moment of a great photo. I would at times walk around without paying attention to my central vision and allow myself to become more aware of my surrounding; the advantage to street photography.

Having found this month extremely enlightening, March's theme of 'people' will not be ending. While April will be centralized around Minimalism, March has given me inspiration to continue 'people' as a subject in a special branch of this project.

If you're interested in being a subject for photographing, I'd love to hear from you. I'm interested in all genres of photographing people. I think we could have some fun! Feel free to contact me.

Three months in and can't wait to see where the rest of the year takes me.

Up next: April – Minimalism