The Simplicity Project, No. 9

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.

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19 thoughts on “The Simplicity Project, No. 9

  1. Pingback: The Simplicity Project, Nos.19, 20 and 21 | Still and All

  2. I loved reading your thoughts on how just the concept of simplicity has peeled back new layers of subjects to photograph. It’s so exciting to start seeing in new and different ways. Thanks for sharing your experience and I can’t wait to see your photographs from winter on the sailboat.

  3. Thank you for this, you have epitomised what has come to be a normal practice for me over a number of years, in my mind I thought others recognize the way I do, but evidently not only some people have this keen eye. I was always wondering why people did not see what I saw, what comes naturally to photograph the hidden, obscure, abstract…lovely. I think I may expand on this in a post… x

  4. What lovely colours in that pot by the side of the swimming pool, such a good place to put it! I’m really enjoying our month of simplicity too. I have always enjoyed details, so I feel comfortable and happy doing these exercises. I think that our big group is enjoying itself and there’s a great feeling of freedom too! Have a great week, Sherry and see you on Flickr!

  5. I may have to try this exercise after the holidays. Seems as the winter goes on I start needing inspiration and a new perspective. These images are simply gorgeous, such beautiful tones!

  6. These are wonderful, Sherry! I love the idea of simplicity and I love where it’s taking you in your photography. I’m going to have to ponder this whole idea. But back to your wonderful photos … those colors call me, harken me to warmer, SIMPLER days of summer. Love them.

  7. So glad you found a new way of looking at things that excites you…to change is good..moving on and always learning…I’m hoping to get back into “something” soon…I miss doing what I love and being party of the photographic community…but at least I have your lovely photo’s and stories to keep me curious…and so thrilled that our Kim is moving back into practice also…I have missed her…BTW I did sign up for this “Kim’s” newsletter. I had not heard of her before you led me to her..
    Have a beautiful and simple week ahead.

  8. Sherry, I am really happy you wrote this post. Your thoughts and process to photograph simplicity have helped me process my own steps this week in the class. Several images I posted early last week were some I already had and I think as the end of the week came along and I was taking a fresh photo things started to click. Yesterday as we were driving home from dinner I kept spying things of simplicity and I felt I was becoming more aware of that element. Sometimes I need a break to recollect the feeling and excitement, so I didn’t post Saturday or today. You have been a true inspiration to me with this beautiful post. I LOVE the bottom picture!! It is fabulous! Thank you!!

  9. Oh my… I love how you mirror your wise thoughts with a ‘move’ toward the simpler second image: everything about it – image, colour, composition – is simply beautiful. Wonderful discoveries, Sherry!

  10. That’s wonderful Sherry that the project is helping you to see things in a different way. How invaluable. The pool looks so inviting, especially today. We have about 6 inches of snow on the ground!

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