Thursday 21 May 2015

Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new

Today’s questions on Visual Journalling, which wonderful course comes to a close at the end of the week, feel very much like the sort of things I asked myself right at the very start of the year. Having used Susannah Conway’s free course, Find Your Word for 2015 (to establish what my word was) and then signed up for Ali Edwards’ course, One Little Word I began to work on 'LOOKING' and what it could mean for me, this year. 

So far so good.  

I’ve started a blog (!); I’ve begun to gather the resources I will need to self-publish a book; and I’ve got four on-line photography courses lined up before the end of the year. 

That was the easy bit! The more difficult thing will be to continue to commit to: 

- taking photographs on a regular basis (daily would be good!) 
- learning more about how my camera works – not essential, but I would like to feel that I'm - in charge of it (and not that it's in charge of me) 
- reading some of the considerable collection of books concerning photography that I’ve invested in, and studying them – that word LOOKING, again.

A lot of the above is about learning to really see, of course. But I’m not going to beat myself up about this. I started to take meditation seriously, last year, and I’m going to continue the practice of centering myself. And, when I’m not focusing on my breaths - as they rise and fall, rise and fall - I'll be wandering around the world, camera in hand, in a relaxed, open manner. So, I will take this insight away from Visual Journalling: that my camera is part of my Practice.

I should have known of course. Because, I’m tempted to say, that in 2013 photography saved my life (thanks, in part to Andrea Scher’s Super Hero photography course). That course was about how to use any camera creatively, but it got me going; and I discovered how liberating photography can be. Now, thanks to Kim’s courses, and in particular to this one, I feel a profound shift has occurred. I’m engaging with and embracing the world, but I’m also reflecting on it. In short, Visual Journalling has empowered me: to honour who I am. That’s not a throwaway comment. My confidence has been enhanced: I am taking better photographs and I’m writing about them. I had hoped to learn how to do the latter, but I had not nursed expectations that the former would be true, also. 

I will continue writing poetry (more daily check-in's required) – aided and abetted by attending Poetry School courses and other retreats/events – and I will be helped considerably by all I’ve learnt on the Visual Journalling course. Writing about my pictures is something I’m very serious about – not least because photography and poetry are the two passions in my life! So, I will be asking of any image: 

  • what it reveals about me (of secondary importance when it comes to writing something objective about a work of art, but nevertheless telling) 
  • what are the metaphors and symbols 
  • what’s my emotional response; what do I feel 
  • what words and/or or qualities come to mind - word association will be paramount to telling a story; at the very least giving an image a 'telling' title (not easy) is a good start 
  • what does the visual design tell me 
  • what does the colour tell me 
  • how do I paint it in words (stream of consciousness and proprioceptive writing – anything that entails listening/meditating - is a great way to engage with the heart of an image) 

But, in future, before I take a photograph I will look… And I will consider what the story might be. I will ask of what catches my attention - not necessarily in this order: 
  1. what the focus of my image is going to be 
  2. how will I convey the essence of what I want to say? 
  3. what the contribution of the design elements will be 
  4. will my image have soul? 
So, gone are the days of happy snapping! Actually, not; I will not be taking myself too seriously. HOWEVER, my sincere hope is that everything I have learnt – and will learn – will become second-nature (eventually!).

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