Jay Maisel on Photography

If somebody said to me, Give me two words that’ll make me a better photographer, its be open. Be open to what’s in front of you, to what’s actually in front of you, to what really is happening at that moment, Not two minutes ago, not five minutes from now. Is it something that moved you? Does it, does it make you feel good to photograph it?

Like people say, Well, what do you go out? What are you looking for when you go out? And I say, I’m not looking for anything. That’s the trick. I’m trying not to look for anything. I’m trying to have it come to me, you know? And people want to go watch me photograph. I said it stumbled bumble and fall, and pick yourself up and start again.

There’s no mystery to it. You just gotta keep working at it. One of the pieces of advice I would give to somebody, A piece that was given to me years ago, and the advice was, Walk slow. Walk slower than you’re walking. I said, How the hell do you know how fast I’m walking? And he said, Well, nothing’s happening in your photographs.

You go from A to B to C. He said, If you stand there and wait, things will happen. And if you think about it, you can take fantastic pictures from. You can take great pictures from a helicopter. You can take great pictures from a car. But if you get down and you start walking, that’s when the intimate, meaningful, insightful things happen.

It’s not a game to see how much territory you can cover. It’s a game to see how much you can see. Look at art. Don’t look at photography. Look at art. Art’s been going on for 50,000 years. Degeratype started 200 years ago. So where do you think there’s a greater wealth of discovery? Where do you think there’s more wisdom in looking at art?

And if you look at art, it’s freeing for you. You begin, you begin to understand that nothing is Barred and you can do anything you want. You start looking at photographs and photographic books, and I got all these damn rules, rules of thirds, rules of this, rules of that. And the thing that I tell people is you are your own person.

You do whatever the hell you want. You have no obligation to me or the teacher or to the camera and it’s damned histograms or any other thing that somebody told you you should.


If you don’t know who Jay Maisel is here’s a link to his website https://www.jaymaisel.com/