I started my Simplicity Project at the beginning of December, inspired by Kim Manley Ort’s invitation to post one simple image a day this month. I joined up with a Flickr group of wonderful kindred spirits who also accepted this invitation with excitement. Everybody is welcome.
Decembers can be a frenzy of holiday-related activity, and I am drawn to the idea of a different kind of month. This year we are in a warm climate getting ready to launch our sailboat, and to live aboard it for the winter.
It’s a simpler life. I thought it would go well with a focus on greater simplicity in my images.
I expected that this practice of simplicity would affect my photography — in a good way, I hoped — since I find that simpler images are often the most compelling. But the surprise for me was how quickly and drastically this new focus would change my very perception too.
Last week, I felt that things that were previously invisible to me came out of hiding. And that even everyday things started to look entirely different.
Last week I saw lights out the car window, lighthouses, grapefruit, hedge clippings, peeling boat paint and dappled light on a bedspread through fresh eyes. I noticed so much more when looking for images that would contain less.
I am now conscious of moving toward a more direct visual perception of things — I say moving toward because this is a lifelong process and practice. What this means for example is that instead of being preoccupied by the idea of a subject (say a simple piece of fruit), I now look at it also as a unique collection of lines and shapes and colours, with shadows and light falling in a particular way and constantly changing.
Before last week, I don’t think I would have taken a photograph of dappled light on a bed because, well, it was just dappled light on a bed. Or hedge clippings. Who photographs hedge clippings? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has the idea that those are not interesting subjects for photographs. But in seeking simplicity I was able to connect in a new way to the particular beauty of all aspects of my surroundings, not just the expected ones.
Now that I stop to think about it, I realize I have been heading in this direction for some time now. I just needed a practice like this to kickstart me and focus me.
So my intent for the rest of the month is to be more open to what I observe and faithfully capture and share my perceptions in a way that is less connected to what I have been conditioned to do and more connected to what my heart tells me.
In fact, this is a project that will occupy me long after December is over.