Paul Nicklen on the Pleasures of Not Photographing

Before describing how a leopard seal tried to feed him live penguins, National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen spoke to Melissa Block on NPR about the pleasures of not photographing:

“A lot of photographers see the world through their cameras. And I love these animals so much — I like to just sit there, and watch. So no, you have these experiences, and they’re almost as special as the pictures themselves. When I’m on my deathbed, I’m going to be thinking of the bowhead experience and I’m not going to be looking at a bunch of pictures on my wall.”

(Related: Unphotographable, and something I wrote here a long while ago and cannot locate about No Flash Corner and how I used to go there and not take any pictures at all, that I’d watch people and try to learn something about light and people and photography (and how each elbows the other) without putting my camera in anyone’s face, and I realized I learned as much from watching and not shooting as I did when I was shooting, and realizing that, knew that (for me) photography wouldn’t be about the flat photograph, but rather the being there inside the  w i d e  experience. Many of us ratchet between photographic affection for the emulsion-on-the-neg or the proof-that-you-exist-care-and-were-there or the magic of seeing the image reveal itself in a print, but the root of all of them is to arrive in the first place, ready for anything, with honest interest and your eyes wide.)

One thought on “Paul Nicklen on the Pleasures of Not Photographing”

  1. Taking pictures just inside yourself is a nice way to spend your time. The only sad thing is not being able to share these pictures with others that weren’t present (at least in a non-verbal way), but maybe even this adds more zest to it.

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