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Cliff Mautner Photography

Ketubah Signing Photos

"Take a look at what you're looking at."

In 2004, I attended my first WPPI convention in Vegas. It was also the first time I had the opportunity to listen to Jay Maisel give a seminar. Jay is an icon. He's one of the most creative, successful photographers of all time. I've always admired his work, and I enjoyed listening to him immensely. Most of all, I admire his vision and the way he sees pictures.

In passing, during his seminar, he said, "take a look at what you're looking at." I literally did a double-take—what a profound thing for a photographer to hear. My interpretation of that quote was clear: look beneath the surface of how you view a particular scene. There could be something wonderful beyond what meets the eye.

Now, I'm fortunate enough to have met Jay on several occasions, thanks to Scott Kelby and the seminars I've given at Photoshop World, as well as other conferences we've both taught at. I mentioned the quote to Jay, and he has no recollection whatsoever that he said that! I thought that was hilarious because that quote has inspired me for the past 7 years! In any case, it's a reminder that there could be a wonderful image right in front of us- we just have to see it. If we don't see it, how can we capture it?

This image was shot during a Ketubah signing at a Jewish Ceremony at Holly Hedge Estate. I love this venue so much. There are so many different rustic environments to shoot in. I constantly stalk a scene for moments, composition, and just something beyond the obvious.

Before they actually signed, I took a second look at a reflection I noticed from the protective covering of the document. It made an otherwise ordinary image of everyone standing around a bit more interesting, or, at least, I think so.

When I shoot images like this, I give Jay credit, and I honestly try and look beyond the obvious. It was a great lesson in how to "see."

Nikon D3S, Nikkor 24-70 G

Location: 6987 Upper York Rd, New Hope, PA 18938.

1/60; f/2.8; ISO 3200; 31.0 mm.