Sailing up The Nile: the quintessential non-stop photo op
The last time I saw Ryker, we were on a boat heading up the Nile into eternal Egypt’s “New Kingdom.”
If you enjoy looking at incomparable landscapes, or watching timeless Egypt — and one of the oldest civilizations in the world — slowly flow by; or stopping every now and then to explore some of the greatest sites on the planet, a cruise up the Nile is a “must do” and once-in-a-lifetime experience.
And if you happen to be travelling with a photojournalist who has an equally incomparable eye for all that the art of photography encompasses, then consider yourself lucky. I certainly did.
Although Ryker is the kind of guy who willingly shares his photographic tips and skills with you, all you really need to do is watch him work; as I did. I wonder if he knew.
To see an skilled photographer like Ryker “at work” is a travel experience in itself. And I must admit that, if I was looking for “the next great shot,” all I really had to do was keep my eye on Ryker.
The art of photojournalism
With all the “new” technologies, we are all fortunate to be able to try our hand at this art. However I must admit, from my own experience, that having all the latest digital paraphenalia will certainly give you the ways and means to get some great pictures; but creating art through photographic images is quite another thing.
The photojournalist is in the business of collecting, editing, and preserving images that are not only “suspended in time” but also images that tell a story in all its dimensions. Remember the old adage “a picture says a thousand words”? The photo arts, especially in the almost infinite world of travel, can communicate and evoke thoughts, feelings, concepts, and sensations on so many levels. This is an art form (and a business) that deals in imagery as well as images. It is an art form that operates in both the conscious and subconscious mind.
As you will see and hear in my discussion with Ryker, great photographs have a number of principal ingredients, amongst which are the following:
(a) Timeliness and timelessness
It is through a clear understanding of context that such images convey universal meaning; the essence of any art. And that context is also a glimpse of a moment in time that is enduring.
(b) Objectivity and neutrality
Photography becomes art when it transcends socially constructed or contrived perceptions. The art of the photojournalist involves depicting a deeper reality in terms of content, but also in terms of “tone” and all the “hues and shades” of heightened awareness that his or her perceptiveness provides. Although it may seem incongruous, the photographer is both engaged inside the subject matter, as well as on the outside looking in. Having said that, it is also important to remember that we all bring our own experience to a subject and therefore interpret the subject for our viewers based on our own a priori experiences, our own sensibilities, as well as the universal dictates of art.
Human beings have always been storytellers, in many media. It is through their images (whether they are communicated in a visual medium or through the mind’s eye, as literature does) that the viewer/reader is able to relate to or identify with the inherent culture of the story.
When a photo is especially engaging, the viewer is has a sense of truly “being there” when the photographer captured the moment. Such skill on the part of the photographer requires the ability to make decisions instantly or perhaps intuitively.
A great photo has a special kind of symmetry and balance; not only in its composition but in its conceptual “depth of field”; to borrow a term from the photo arts. Great photographs, like great poetry, novels, music, or dance have in them a multidimensional quality that reveals larger human truths. The great Pyramids of Giza are as much a testament to the pharaohs’ vision of immortality as they are a reminder of the transient nature of human existence. The Pyramid is there; but Cheops is long gone.
Sic transit gloria mundi….
“In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little, human detail can become a Leitmotiv.” — Henri Cartier Bresson
Ryker is a contributor to and member of Loco Photo, Western News Service, TravelJourno, FIJET and Touristica.
He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org