Monkey Business

Before we kick off – watch this:-

It’s only a minute or two, and most of it is obvious…. but watch carefully, and to the very end…..

What I hope you realise by now is that we are not as perceptive as we think we are.. I spotted one of the things, but not the rest. Whilst we concentrate on the thing we are asked to work on, we fail to see what else is going on around us… our brains simply can’t deal with so much visual stimulation.

This is why, when a group of photographers go out together, to the same location, they all come back with different images.

Sometimes we’ve seen things and decided not to photograph them, but someone else did, and then we wonder why we didn’t. Other times we won’t even remember seeing some things AT ALL……

For photographers, some of the blocks are the fixed ideas we have about how to shoot something. We rush to places to get the right light, or the right composition, and leave our minds closed to the alternatives, the places we pass on our way to that ‘fixed’ location may have the gems we have missed.

Don’t forget next time you’re on your way to somewhere, that most times, there is an opportunity to stop and stare……… and SEE…

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies (1871 – 1940)

Did Leonardo worry about Mona?

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with trips up and down Lincolnshire, and Derbyshire and Nottingham – plus a two days out in South Manchester.  I’ve spoken to a lot of photographers who have been to my talks, and it’s surprising what topics come up.  The same things seem to get rehashed over and over, but sometimes something surprising crops up.

We were talking about photo comparisons, and how people put images on Facebook, or Instagram, or what have you…. And ask which image is best – the black and white or the colour….. and I know we’ve chatted about this before on here, but it’s worth reiterating at this point, that the best image is the one the photographer likes best.

Someone mused to me that maybe Leonardo DaVinci might have asked his compatriots which smile the Mona Lisa should have – big beaming, no smile at all – or should I go for the enigmatic one?

Interesting to think though – did he decide on his own, or did he ask someone?  I willing to believe that by this time in his career, he made his own mind up…..

And so should we…. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we need to stop worrying about what other people think.  I know that we want to feel ‘accepted’, but we also need to be brave, and experiment – don’t let rules get in the way of your photographic life, and your vision.  Nothing these days is completely original, we are all standing on the shoulders of giants.  To copy is to learn.

Decide what you love, and copy what you love.  Don’t be afraid, blend your ideas.

When asked which picture is your favourite….. the answer has to be “the one I will take tomorrow”..  because when you spend too much time trying to please everyone, in the end you will please no-one, not even yourself.

Today though, is cold and wet, the clouds are scudding by, and it’s a bit too cold for me out there. The dogs are damp and the sound of snoring (albeit gentle) comes from behind me. The girl dog snores, the other silent till a dreaming rabbit goes past……. We’re back from breakfast out with friends, and I think of things that I love..

Of course, breakfast with friends, clouds in the sky, dreaming dogs – twitching in their sleep – comfy beds, hot tea, chocolate straight from the fridge, improving weather and bike rides…… and the possibility of some photographs to come…….

Bring it on…………

It’s Tuesday, and it’s raining

It’s Tuesday, and it’s morning, and it’s dark, dismal and wet.  I have to go out, and I don’t want to, and I’m not inspired, and I think of things I don’t like.

Irresponsible people, flat batteries, being rained on, burnt toast, the stringy bits on bananas, flat grey relentless skies, and being uninspired.

I know I’ll move on through this, and things will get back to whatever the ‘new normal’ really is.  I’ll get my camera out later and make some pictures to go into my new project, which at times seems really exciting, and at others tedious…… and I’ve only just begun…..

The thing about trying too hard… it’s true.  You try and try, and the ideas don’t come.  You try harder still, and it just gets worse.  I need to step back a bit, and not worry so much – I realise there are things I have no control over, and never will.  I must not let things get on top of me…… repeat ad infinitum.

The good news is that there are some wonderful people about who are amazingly supportive, and I’m sure the ideas will come, together with ways to tackle the problems.  It’s not insurmountable.

I remember to stop worrying about what other people think of my photography, and wonder if Leonardo Da Vinci worried about what smile he would put on the Mona Lisa – Did he ask his painter friends?, and if he did, what did they say to him?  Did he think it might be better in black and white?  (Dark humour!)

I know it’s scary to do ‘your own thing’, but I also remember that I mustn’t let rules get in the way of my vision – it’s my story, and my photography.

I feel better now…. And think of things that I love…. 

People that help without being asked to, charged batteries, windy but sunny days, bananas without the stringy bits, and finally being inspired.

Turnstone on the beach