Sunday, 23 March 2008

Art Wolfe: PBS: India

I watched an episode from Art Wolfe's Travels To the Edge on PBS early evening yesterday, and I was struck by his using a heavy-duty tripod during all of his photo-shoots. Art Wolfe, who's a superb photographer, was in Allahabad during a Mela, and was televised thigh-deep in the Ganges river with his Canon perched on a tripod (Bogen?) and what appeared to be a 400mm lens. This is not unusual for such a situation, but further on, he photographs sadhus in their tents also using the tripod as well. In fact, Art used his tripod for all of his photographs in this particular episode.

I rarely, if ever, travel with a tripod as I much prefer to retain the freedom to move horizontally and vertically to photograph my subjects. There's no question that it's a trade-off....and involves a different style of photography. I guess that Art Wolfe's style is less photo-journalistic, and more focused on specific subjects and scenes. He is also (probably) accompanied by a few minders who help him out in 'crowd-control', who allow him to photograph perfectly-posed environmental portraits. This is invaluable in India, especially during festivals such as the Kumbh Mela.

Perhaps it's just that most travel photographers don't have the luxury of having minders and a production crew, and have to rely on quick reactions to capture their images....but even then, I would still have a hard time using a tripod during my work.