Chased by the Light is a really fascinating documentary story about world famous National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg. After experiencing a period of burn out from the fast paced, demanding world of magazine shooting, Brandenburg sought to be rejuvenated in photography. To re-inspire himself, he gave himself an assignment: to capture 1 image per day for 90 days. I’m not talking shooting 57 images and picking the best one. His self-assigned task was to shoot one frame per day – one picture and one picture only.
The challenge was tremendous on two fronts. Firstly, it had to be a National Geographic quality picture of awesome content. The substance and essence of the photo had to be there. And secondly, he had to have all the technical stuff figured out precisely *before* he took the shot to ensure a proper exposure. Normally we bang off a series of shots and pick the best one or make adjustments. But Jim’s shots had to be bang on each and every time. The movie compares it to stepping up to bat and hitting a grandslam from a single pitch, 90 days in a row!
The film was really excellent for helping us enter Brandenburg’s world and immersing ourselves in his photos and experience. And really, it’s the only way he could get the shots he got. He was literally “in the picture,” transcending the image. Most photographers, especially wildlife guys, go into an area from the outside and try to get shots. But Jim’s photos come from within North Woods area. He lives among his subjects and you can tell by the quality and intimacy of his shots. The film has an almost Eastern spirituality about the “essence” of photography and the intuition/awareness that makes “the shot” happen.
The video is filled with his own personal reflections and revelations about having to choose between photo opportunities. A beautiful rainbow or a raven feather on a rock. Otters playing in a lake or long-shadow water grass. It must have been a tremendous challenge but also very rewarding at the same time.
I was inspired as I watched it and I highly recommend the video to anyone who likes outdoor/nature/wildlife photography, but also for anyone who has a passion for what photography can be when one is chased by the light.