20 Questions With Photographer Chris Orwig

Chris Orwig provides quick candid answers to 20 questions.
What’s the best thing about photography?
Life is short and time moves too fast. Yet, photography has provided me with the way to try to stop, slow and savor moments that otherwise would have been lost. Even more, good photographs seem to be a concentration of life, a distillation like evaporated sea water where only the salt remains. And photography has become a means and a passport to get out into the world and to live life with more focus, intensity and passion. In a sense, what’s best about photography is that it has saved me. It’s saved me from myself and helped me to focus on others and on the grand mystery of life. And in doing so, photography has given me a new way to see and live.
What’s the thing that interests you most about photography?
The idea that the camera can help you dig more deeply, see more clearly and live life more fully.
What’s the thing that interests you most about your own photographs?
In my own photographs I am always struck by the autobiographical nature of them. In a sense, I can look at a photograph and remember who I was when I took it and how I changed because of it. And collectively, these photographs help me appreciate, remember and make sense of my own life story.
How do you know when an image doesn’t work?
When an image is too obvious, too straightforward or too cliché I know that it isn’t going to work. Often, it’s these images that first catch my eye, yet the eye can easily be deceived. As one of my mentors once said, “Learning how to look and then look again, is as important as learning how to capture a frame.”
How do you know when an image is good?
I’m interested in capturing photographs that are authentic, alive and real. I like pictures that don’t feel staged but get beneath the surface of things. I like pictures that are simple, strong and can’t quite be placed in a particular time. What makes one of these photographs good is when I still feel it has these qualities a number of weeks after the fact. An image is good when it stands the test of time.
How do you know when an image is great?
An image is great when it can’t quite be explained. Rather than being “clear” these images have a poetic element of mystery that draws you in and deepens who you are and how you see the world. These images are timeless, they captivate and compel.
What’s the most useful photographic mantra?
As Marc Riboud said, “Photography is savoring life at 1/100th of second.”
Read more of this Q&A with Chris here.
Find a collection of Chris’ favorite quotes here.
Browse Chris books Visual Poetry and People Pictures here.
Watch Chris’ TEDx video here.
Find out more about Chris Orwig here.

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