Jay Maisel Retrospective – Day 2: Go Out Open

Jay has a way of letting you know when he is telling you something of importance – he keeps repeating it. “Tomorrow I want you up with the sun.” “I don’t want to see you bright-eyed tomorrow.” “Hey Jamie (his assistant), what time is sun rise tomorrow?“. This was the repartee at dinner on Monday night, and besides, we needed 5 images to turn in on Tuesday. We also heard “Doors open at 8:30 – not 8:20, not 8:25 – 8:30“. Kind and gracious, but absolutely not to be fooled with, this was his way of making sure that we were not reliant on him, that we stayed out shooting for a good period of time.

I wake up at 5:45 am (2:45 am Pacific time) to walk the streets of China Town and Little Italy. I have no idea where I am, where I am going, or what I will find. This too, is part of Jay’s plan: Go out open. Jay knows that not every day, every outing, will you find a jackpot, but his philosophy is that you plan what to photograph, and don’t find it, you will get nothing. You must go out looking for interesting things – he uses Light, Color, and Gesture to define interesting. Look  and keep looking. When you find something – wait for the trigger. Work the scene or situation. Then go out open again.

I went out open and returned with an series of images of this Chinese woman sorting the returnable bottles and cans that she had collected that morning. Look at her hands and gestures. Ultimately I decided to focus just on her hands.

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