The tulips I had that were so tightly budded up have spread out their petals to the sun (what we have of it). Some opened up just enough to hold the classic tulip shape, but others, not so much. More than a few petals have dropped. Some, entire heads have fallen and I have been picking up the pieces (*cough* metaphor *cough*). At maximum droopiness, I decided to trim what I could and place the survivors in a shorter vase. I’m drying and collecting the fallen. The stems, however, could not be heartier! So, I subjected them to my dark editing ways.
It’s been a long, dark, and damp (if not, drenched) winter in the Pacific Northwest. Many friends have expressed everything from annoyance to pure hatred toward our recent weather behavior. They’ve questioned their decision to move to this far corner of America, asked for advice about the best “happy light”, expressed wanting to fry under said happy light, and explained how this winter has brought out a level of S.A.D. we just didn’t think would exist. It’s so bad people are almost self-diagnosing themselves as depressed. So far, the people I know are okay and are managing as best as they can.
Though I consider myself a native, I have never really fully appreciated the grey season (which is about 6-9 months of the year, depending on science). I have expressed a spectrum of emotions about how it feels like I’m in a rain cloud prison. With what little energy I can muster I’ve found that reaching out to friends is good. Getting together with them is better. Sun lamps can kind of help. Taking a vacation to the desert is better. But this is all a roundabout way to say that creativity can take a back seat to pure sadness and lethargy (bears get to call it hibernation). This is all to say that my editing process has be skewing more dark and delicate than usual.
These tulip petals say a lot about how I’ve been feeling both physically and mentally: drained, dropped, and working in a shallow-depth-of-field. March 13, 2017
In an experiment to transfer a photo onto wood, I was left with the paper I had to rub off to expose the print. It was fairly successful, but not perfect. Of course, I then found the shreds more interesting.
The other day, I took a trip to the local Fisherman’s Terminal to pick up some salmon for dinner, and thought it might be fun to do a short photowalk through the shipyard. September has been cool and sunny, and the light gentle, yet intense. It turned out to be a meditative escape in a playground of shapes, texture, color, and light.
Sometimes I think I can take photographing for granted. With easy access to any kind of camera, we can capture what we want when we want. It’s easy. It’s fast. It can sometimes be more of a reactionary response, or a “this might look good” moment. I don’t discourage myself from just shooting because sometimes those moments turn out really well. Some of my favorite images are things I caught by luck or random happenstance. But the amount of snap-shot/just because photos I have can totally burn me out. I tend to get bored and frustrated. Where is the work I’m dying to make? The work that really stands out for me that isn’t just another random image? That’s when I realized: My mind is not always in it’s prime state when taking photos. Simply put, there are times I am present with my camera and the moment, and there are times when I am not. I want to strive to be more present. Not only is this healthier for my mind, it yields my more thoughtful and impactful images.
As I continued my walk through the shipyard, I felt every step on the wooden pier, took a breath and stabilized my feet before every shutter release, thought about how a subject might look at different angles, remembered to consciously practice things I learned in school like hyper-focal distance focusing, and visualized how I might want to process a moment differently than how I saw it at that moment. I was patient with myself. I let myself try. It was one of my more immersive photo walk experiences. I was eager to edit what I had shot, because I knew I had good things to share.
So, I’d like to ask you: What intention (if any) do you set for yourself when you go out shooting? When do you think you feel disconnected from your work? When do you feel connected with your work? Do you practice a sort of mindfulness when you are shooting? And just for fun, where are some places in your hometown that you can always go to to explore your creative seeing? As someone who can struggle with creativity and finding inspiration, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
For me, watching waves ebb and flow is probably the most meditative experience. My mind immediately calms. I breathe more deeply. I start thinking about what I’m grateful for. I smile. Looking at these photos I think about how life is just as much about looking out as it is looking in. To see and journey toward a horizon while paying attention to what’s close and stirring inside.
Statement about this piece: This image, split into four parts, imitate a window frame looking out at an every day scene: shower curtain lifted by the wind, yet held in place by laundry pins. The windows above it look out onto the ocean, an endless expanse of beautiful uncertainty. The intent of this piece is to evoke a feeling of isolation. Even with big dreams, freedom, support, and gratitude, we still can somehow find the negative energy to trap ourselves in our own minds and keep ourselves from moving outside of our comfort zones.