October was about surprising myself — seeing new paths emerge, taking turns I didn’t plan in advance, moving in new directions, going with a certain flow that felt right…
I’ve been playing with longer exposures, intentional camera movement and making composite images. I’ve diverged from looking mostly close up with my camera to trying to capture bigger vistas. I departed from taking only candid people shots and even did my first formal portrait sitting.
As I’ve experimented more with my camera and with post-processing I’ve made some unexpected and important discoveries.
Ever since I began taking photography seriously a few years ago, I’ve been striving to simplify my images and distill them to their essence.
I generally turn away from photos — my own and others’ — that are busy and cluttered, because they leave me with a feeling of unease and not knowing where to look. Instead I gravitate to — and try to create — images that are sparer and stronger in composition, where the extraneous has been eliminated.
I know that what I have been drawn to in photographs is a clarity of vision, almost a purity, as well as a sense of serenity, balance and even a certain restfulness. This has meant that many of my own images have featured a restrained colour palette — only one or two colours — or very soft, muted, desaturated analogous tones.
Now, none of this was done consciously: I only realized that this was common to my favorite images while taking Kat Sloma’s Find Your Eye online course recently. Here’s an image that illustrates what I mean.
So I didn’t expect to feel a strong affinity for the image of the trees at the top of this post. It doesn’t have any of the characteristics I usually love. It is quite colourful, it is very detailed, and there is no obvious subject. It is certainly not minimal, although it does feel a bit magical to me.
But a few months ago, I would have just discarded it without much thought. Now though, something in it keeps me coming back to look more deeply. Something connects. The image is clearly speaking to me, but what is it saying?
I’m still reflecting on this.
Maybe I am less overwhelmed by the idea of making an image that is complex and intricate but also clear and strong visually.
Or at a deeper more metaphorical level, I wonder if I was I seeking to focus on the forest in my photography because I feared getting lost in the trees? Maybe I now appreciate that the forest is made up of trees.
Whatever is going on, it does seem that my eye is changing. Maybe my vision is expanding. Maybe my preferences and ways of approaching the world are not set in stone forever, even now. Maybe I am realizing that I can shift and change and flow, and that that will be true as long as I live.
I’d love to know if you’ve surprised yourself lately…
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