Streetshooter … Thoughts and Findings … Defining and Finding “Intent”


Sometimes I just want to make photos and not for any other reason then the enjoyment it gives me. Whenever I do tho’, I feel guilty. I feel like I’m not working which is bullcrap. I mean I still get my 5 miles walk in. I’m still carrying my camera. I’m still trying to find my photos and trying to allow my photos to find me.I would think it’s a matter of intent but I know that is wrong. My intent is to make photos. I feel that everytime I pick up the camera, Hmmmm. So what is happening when I feel that I’m somehow working different but I’m not.


So if I’m doing things kinda the way I do things and I’m thinking about things the way I do and the camera is too, where is the variable?

Maybe it’s not me at all. Maybe theres some kinda Kinetic energy from the subject matter that is working in a strange way and maybe I am responding to that energy in a different way. Nah, even if that’s true, I can’t let it alone like that. I am accountable for everything I do and make in this world. There are no accidents and there is only my incompetence or inability to deal with life and all things living or dying or dead. So that must mean photographically that I am the origin of my work and I don’t accept that. I believe that I am only partially the origin of the work. That must mean that I am only partially accountable for the things that’s don’t work. Mayne this sounds like a bunch of contradictions and maybe you think you don’t have these issues but I beg to tell you that you do. I see it as more an act of discovery. I’m 65 and been a shooter all my life but doing something for a long time don’t make it right, it just makes it a long time coming.


It is also said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity. I have my VA Shrink, what’s your excuse? So maybe it’s the fact that I work in Center City all the time, well, most of the time that is finally taking a toll on me. Funny, I was shooting Market Street for a while last year and I felt like this. So I took the Elevated Train out to 69th & Market. I walked around about 90 minutes, went back to Center City and worked for 5 months and never felt stifled. That alone amazes me. I mean it’s not like going to Paris for vacation. It’s just a few miles away from my normal stomping grounds.When I’m having these moments, even changing cameras means nothing. I just see the same shit with a different camera.


I write this because I know everyone with a camera goes thru this. It’s normal and it might seem like the doldrums will never pass. Well, let me point a beam of light onto the subject. I think for me, it’s more internal then external. I mean if I bring up the old preconceptions that are harbored in my mind and heart then my eyes shall see them as old preconceptions. Regardless of my intent, I am destined to fail.Sure, I’ll make photos and sure I’ll probably like some but, I wont get what I am looking for because I am not connected on all levels.

Here’s some things I discovered and figured out. I am not claiming to be the inventor or Doctor of Photography. I am just a guy that’s made photography a very important of my existence and these are things I try to live by.

There are 3 facets to photography. Eye, Heart and Mind. The Important thing is INTENT. Try to visualize a Pie. In the center is INTENT.  Equally at three points are Eye, Heart and Mind. There are 3 parts because Intent is why you do things and not how you do things. The other 3 are how you do things. All parts are the sum of one and effect each other at different times.

Now I am distracted on the streets and don’t know why. SoMy intent is to make photos and my heart and eye are working together butmy mind is preoccupied with why it isn’t working right.

So if the center of the pie is intent and lets say, that’s where the photo wants to live,it’s impossible because even tho my intent is good and my mond and eye are good, my mind is on vacation so I can’t get what I want because the system is failing. All parts must work and if one part doesn’t, well, don’t fight or pressure yourself like me, just go with the flow and in time it will fix itself.


Thee is a place I try to live in most times but I can’t be there all the time because I’m human as you and it’s impossible. The place is called, “The Here and Now”. To get there you must apply the principals I just described. If you don’t know where this is, it’s no on a map, it’s not found by Google, no GPS will get you there. The only way is to Understand and LOVE your Eye, Heart and Mind and then when your out shooting, pay attention to the MOMENT because that’s where you need to be to be in the HERE and NOW.

If you think this is nonsense, well look at your work. I promise you that this is where your images live. They may only speak visually but you need to be able to understand why and how you came together with the. If your not in the here and now with your camera, where the hell are you and why?

11 thoughts on “Streetshooter … Thoughts and Findings … Defining and Finding “Intent””

  1. Thanks Don … you have given me some stuff to ponder. And sometimes I really have to ponder in order to wrap my head around what you are saying … that’s just me being a bit slow sometimes. Take care out there.

  2. hi don

    i’m late to the party, but wanted to say that i really enjoyed this post. i like your visual description of the “parts” of the photograph, and will ponder that image.

    i find that if i don’t bring a camera with me when i walk to town, i see lots of things i wish i could photograph. and yet if i do take a camera, i often end up not taking shot, or force a shot “because” i have the camera. but then there are other times i shoot quite a few. all of these examples are when i’m out (primarily) on an errand.

    but if i go out specifically “to photograph” then i go prepared with an open eye to see what catches it, rather than looking for something i “should” photograph. subtle difference, perhaps, and i’m not sure what my point is, but your pie chart of intent, eye, heart, mind has things stirring in me.


    1. marke, thanks.
      This principal should not live in your here and now but just be watching from eh background. I mean it’s like any art form. There’s a difference between practice and the performance. We practice diligently so that when time for the performance all we learned is at our side waiting to help us perform.
      So be in the here and now but keep all you learned in the background so you can work freely.

      Something like that……..

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