Friday 23rd March 2019, England, Day 49
I follow David du Chemin‘s blog and receive his Contact Sheet emails. David is a charismatic photographer with an outlook on life and photography that I admire, and which echoes my own. He describes himself as:
a world & humanitarian photographer, author, adventurer, and entrepreneur. I want to see this world for the astonishing place it is, and help others do the same.
Earlier this week, I read one of his email’s whilst I was waiting for someone. It was meant to be a time filler but actually it was engaging.
His thoughts were about competition and concern that our photography work never gets “seen” because there are too many amateur photographers these days. Here’s the gist of his argument:
- Art isn’t what others say about our art, but what we say through our art
- The camera is a way to see the world, to be more alive in the world. It brings joy. It’s a tool to say things about the world and ourselves.
- The camera helps to slow life down if we grab those little moments that we might otherwise forget.
- He ends off saying that in remembering these aspects of his craft, it is easier for him to pick up his camera and make art without comparison, overwhelm or too much seriousness.
I do sometimes feel the overwhelm that he talks about. Often, the urge to compare myself with others raises its ugly head too. I know competition is not the answer and I’m not really a competitive person. When I start down the comparison path, I remind myself that I am taking photos for myself and no one else. Years of doing my 365-photo project have taught me that. From experience, this is what I know about my “art”.
- It is a celebration of my own creativity and an outlet for it
- It enables me to see the world through my eyes, I see things with the camera that other people may never notice, I look for the small unnoticed things
- It means being alive in the moment – mindful if you like
- It reminds me that it is the process that counts, not the end result. It’s about losing myself in the moment, utterly unaware of anything else. What David calls slowing life down.
- It is an opportunity to use my photographs to say what I want to say about the world.
But in my big move and with all the life changes that move has brought with it, I have lost my connection with my “big” camera. I’ve been using my smartphone and editing photos with Snapseed.
My “big” camera brings me joy. It feels like an extension of my body. I know how to use it instinctively. It gives me more options for how I see and want to portray the world I see, especially when I use different lenses and perspectives.
In losing my connection with “big” camera, I’ve lost my connection to my art, to the process of making photos, the choices I have before I hit the shutter buttons, to what I want to say about the world.
I’ve lost my connection to black and white photos too, which always evoke an emotional response in me. On my “big” camera, I know that if I want to see texture, space, line and light without the distraction of colour, I can change the setting to compose (“see”) in black and white so easily.
So why don’t I do it?
Good question! I have a whole bunch of excuses really: I am out of the habit. It’s too heavy to take on a walk. I don’t have time to process photos in Lightroom. Yada yada.
All I really need to do is find a balance between using my phone or my big camera. Be content with the differences between the two. Learn to “see” with both. And be grateful that I have a choice!
I start to wonder. If I let go of my own limiting thoughts about how I create my art, I could learn to make my art with both methods – the camera is only the tool. Both enable me to see the world and to be more alive, to slow down life enough to capture the small moments. After all, these were taken on my phone!
It’s almost like I’m saying that I cannot be a “real” photographer unless I use my “big” camera. Really, Debs??? Is that really true?
And so, there is a moment of absolute clarity. Its funny how often I work through problems through writing. Even a perceived or non-problem like this one, seems to straighten itself out. Today’s clarity is that there are often more ways to make art, if I can let myself be open to other possibilities!
Do you find yourself working through issues with your writing?
This post is part of my Foto Fridays series.