We are in lockdown…….
I’ve not done a blog post this month since March 1st – and this is mostly due to the fact that the pandemic that started in China in December and which has overtaken most of the world sent me into a state of panic, that is only now starting to abate – as I realise that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, only weather the storm as best I can.
The media hasn’t helped – with a constant bombardment of bad news, and 24 hour coverage.
So, what to do ? Restrict the amount of news coverage, release myself from the bombardment of social media, and listen to a lot more music – classical piano, is what’s playing in the background even as I type. I’m also trying to hone my photoshop skills some more. I’ve books, and magazines that I bought ages ago with the intention of working through some things, but never got around to. Well, now I have no excuse…..
Back to the music, and I’ve just listened to a piece that has been beautifully played. I’ve rewound it, and sat with my eyes shut, and just absorbed the flow – this has put me in mind of how we can relearn to look at photographs.
We can have them in the background, and see them, but not ‘notice’ them, or we can absorb them – much like we can a piece of music.
I used to play in an orchestra, (I played clarinet), and sitting ‘inside’ the music was magical. To hear the different sections rehearse individually was fascinating – sometimes it didn’t sound like the final piece at all, but the conductor bringing it all together made the final sound. The study of the score showed how it all worked.
I find that photography is very much like this – we produce the first image, and then in conjunction with software, we hone it to a final version – which other folks can then either quickly look at, or hopefully, absorb.
There are photographs in my home that hang on the walls that I will enjoy looking at – and will spend time with, and there are others that are there for decoration only. Seeing some images is not the same as spending time really looking at them.
Minor White said that you should spend at least 30 minutes looking at a photograph – not saying anything, just looking and absorbing – and that’s the same with a piece of music. Having it running in the background is not the same as really listening to it. Minor died in 1976, leaving many images for us to absorb. Mostly black and white closeups, arranged in sequence so the viewer had to look carefully, and slowly. Go look at his work, the lighting is beautiful, and a lot of the images are very simple, but need to be looked at carefully.
Especially good are the images of his friend Tom Murphy, taken in 1948 – beautifully lit, Tom is muscular and naked – and though White struggled throughout his life with his homosexuality, he was able to still to produce images like these.
In these strange times of lockdown, maybe we should take more time to really look at our photography, and really listen to the music. Listen to the sounds of nature too, and allow ourselves the unaccustomed luxury of being able to ‘look’.
So, what’s next – and what do the next weeks have on offer for the photographer? Restrictions yes, but maybe opportunities too.
I might just break out the macro lens I bought and hardly used….. and get to grips with photoshop !
Then again, there’s always the music………