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Jay Maisel on the importance of slowing and to see more, improving your photography News & Insight

Pearls Of Wisdom From The Legendary Jay Maisel

By Max Bridge on March 16th 2015

So much emphasis is given to the technical side of photography that I feel we sometimes forget, or at least neglect, the fact that it is also art. Jay Maisel is one of those legendary photographers whom I cannot help being mesmerized by; when he speaks I listen. It also doesn’t hurt that he has a great accent. In two short videos by Photo District News, Jay bestows some pearls of wisdom which I am sure many of us can learn from.

In the first video, Jay talks about, amongst other things, slowing down (check it out here). It’s very tempting to get swept up in this almost panic like need to capture the moment, frantically adjusting camera settings, pray and spray, etc. By doing so, I think it’s inevitable that we will miss so much of what is going on. Sure, you may capture some nice images, but you may have let something very special slip past.

In every type of photography, gaining an ability to slow down and absorb your surroundings can only benefit your photographs. This is something that I know I suffer from and am always trying to remain conscious of. Some of the tips I gave in my previous Deer Hunter article are about slowing down to become a sneaky ninja. This not only helps you remain safe but also forces you to be more observant.


Jay Maisel on the importance of slowing and to see more, improving your photography
[Screenshot from video]

Jay clearly has an amazing appreciation for our world. In the second video, he talks about gesture, a subject which you may already be familiar with. Gesture is a difficult concept to grasp and one that I am still trying to fully comprehend. I won’t attempt to explain it myself as he does a far better job than I ever could, but again it’s well worth a watch.

In Jay’s fantastic way, he encourages us to look at a scene, a moment, an interaction with receptive, open eyes. My take away is that I need to slow down more and analyze people. That sounds really clinical, “analyze,” and perhaps it’s the wrong word, but if we can better understand the relationship between two people, the subtle nuances of expression and body language, then we might be able to have our images convey something far more powerful. You can find the video here.

Jay Maisel explaining the concept of gesture and how it can improve your photography
[Screenshot from video]

When I started out in photography everything was about learning the camera and editing software. Now that I’ve got a good knowledge of that side of things, I’m really trying to advance my ability to capture a scene. As Jay says:

It’s not a game to see how much territory you can cover, it’s a game to see how much you can see.

Go out today and see something new.

[Via Photo District News]

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Max began his career within the film industry. He’s worked on everything from a banned horror film to multi-million-pound commercials crewed by top industry professionals. After suffering a back injury, Max left the film industry and is now using his knowledge to pursue a career within photography.

Website: SquareMountain 
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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Graham Curran

    Always useful to get insights from top photographers.

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  2. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for sharing the great masters of photography with us. He is great!

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  3. Peter Nord

    There are interesting hours of video of Jay chatting with Scott Kelby as they wander the streets of New York and Paris. Find them on Very much worth the twenty five bucks for a month’s worth of all you can watch.

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  4. David Blanchard

    Critics of photograph methods often criticize folks like me that figure out what to shoot by just wandering around. Jay Maisel has been an inspiration to me for a long time because that is what I do. What I don’t do is projects. As always, thank you Jay!

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  5. Walid Isar

    Although it was short, but very informative. Enjoyed reading it.

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  6. Vince Arredondo

    What a great photographer!

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