Home General Photography An Interesting Quote By Jay Maisel

An Interesting Quote By Jay Maisel

"Skateboarders" by Anthony Morganti

Last week, I posted a short feature about the photographer, Jay Maisel. Because of that, I thought it would be relevant to repost this, that originally appeared on AnthonyMorganti.com, rewritten slightly with a different picture.

I’m working on a photography project and in preparation for it, I’ve been studying the work of some great photographers in general, and street photographers in particular. One of the photographers is the legendary Jay Maisel. I was watching a street photography, how-to video featuring Mr. Maisel and he said something that has stuck in my head and has been radiating around my cranium ever since:

Jay Maisel

“I’m more interested in picture quality than the pixel quality.” 

This simple statement is actually quite profound. Photography is quite unique in that it’s the perfect blend of technology and art. The modern DSLR is a wonder of technology. It’s very easy for all of us to get caught up in all that technology and I’m as guilty as the next guy. I joke that I use the Nikon D800e because I’m a degenerate pixel peeper. The truth is, the technology is there to work for us but we shouldn’t let it rule us. The art of photography should rule us and nothing else.

The context of Mr. Maisel’s statement was that he most often shoots his street images at 1600 ISO not caring about the noise an ISO that high might induce. At 1600 he can use fast shutter speeds and smaller apertures to get the depth of field and sharpness he demands. Noise can be dealt with later.

1600 ISO allows him to get quality pictures. He’s not concerned if the pixels are of lesser quality because if he modifies the settings so that the pixels improve, his picture will worsen.

Two other things he mentioned are things that I’ve been teaching for years and I was happy and actually felt pride that a great photographer such as Jay Maisel feels the same. They are:

Look Corner To Corner, Edge To Edge Before Pressing The Shutter

Mr. Maisel explained that the center of the picture is never the problem. The center is what possessed us to photograph the scene BUT, anything leaking in from the sides or corners can spoil the shot. Frame your scene then look to the extreme left, right, top and bottom to make sure that nothing is creeping into your frame, spoiling your shot.

Don’t Go Out With Any Preconceived Notions Of What You’re Going To Shoot

Mr. Maisel says that he likes to go out empty letting the images come to him as they are. If you go out with the idea that you’re going to shoot a woman in purple in front of that yellow wall that’s in the neighborhood, you’ll probably miss dozens of other opportunities because you put blinders on. So, go out empty. Let the scenes speak for themselves and allow the images to come to you.

Check out more of Jay Maisel’s work by CLICKING HERE.


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