The best advice that was ever given to me about photography came from my good friend Infinity Rain – who I am sure many of you know a lot better than I.
It came at a time when I was feeling rather disheartened with photography, and going through a bit of a bad patch as far as the quality of my shots was concerned (whether this was actual or just perceived who can say? Art is so subjective like that!).
She told me that when I was faced with a shot, to actually stop and contemplate it for a good five minutes, slowing the breathing and actually going into a meditative state before pressing the shutter. OK, so I know that isn’t always possible depending on your subject matter, but by and large for still life I have found it an invaluable technique.
The first time I tried it, I ended up with a shot called The Ghost Road Which I rather like (though I’m afraid it doesn’t make a very good print).
So will someone please tell me why, oh why, oh why do I insist on going out to take pictures with other people? The wife suggests going out for a walk, so I grab my camera and off we go. I sit there trying to compose a shot and she walks on – so I’m semi-conscious of the fact that she’s waiting for me to catch up. So I rush. Blur the shot, screw up the composition and generally waste time. In fact, I’d have been better off not bothering taking my camera and just enjoying the walk – but you know what it’s like. It’s like an umbilical cord. We need to be surgically removed from our cameras. Many of us will likely be buried with them.
Worse still for me is, I have a friend. His name is Ian and he’s a photographer too. The other day we decided to take a trip together to my favouritest of places Marwell Zoo. The only problem is we both have a massive competitive streak – so not only are we stood there chimping our photographs and trying to outdo each other, we’re trying to outdo each other by numbers: calling across to each other “How many did you get of that one then?” “12” “Ha! Well I got 20” and so on. “How many memory cards have you used so far?” “How many gigs?” “How many pics?” And in the race for numbers, quality comes a long way down the list. I think at the end of the day I’d taken about 350 pics of which I’ve used about 10.
So I’m not going to go taking pictures with people any more. My walks will be taken alone, my trips will be taken alone. I shall get up early for the best light of the day, I shall go out and find the best locations, and I’m going to find that place of peace where I can take my time, meditate, breathe, compose and finally click…
Ian has invited me to take a trip with him to Monkey World sometime later this year… Now where’s that 2GB memory card of mine?