Putting a little heart into it…

Putting a little heart & soul into it is one of the easiest things to say that we’re going to do, but one of the hardest things to actually do. Why? In my opinion, it’s because we’re so used to getting things as quick as possible and it’s cost us some of our ability to slow ourselves down & truly consider what we’re doing in our photography as well as our lives. What makes me laugh sometimes is when someone tells me that because of who I am, I should be listening to a certain kind of music, dressing a certain way, & talking about certain subjects only; none of that really holds any water because it would cause me to ignore people that really inspire me & people I want to inspire as well as help.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that chaos is the way to go, but moderation & caring should be the norm. There are certain rules that should follow, but super-strict rigidity without any meaning, purpose, soul, or consideration for others isn’t exactly the way to go (or right for that matter). The problem with following rigidity is that modern society is so offended by anything that goes against it that it becomes wrong to express even a slightly different opinion than what’s in the overtly secular mainstream. It’s a little ridiculous if you ask me because we’re heading for something akin to the world in the Modern Educayshun video; look it up on YouTube, it’s actually quite scary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKcWu0tsiZM). The thing is, we need to respect others to the point that everyone can be true to themselves without being told that their heart & soul isn’t offensive.

For me, the lyrics, “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise” from the 1912 version of the ancient Irish hymn, Be Thou My Vision, should be at least one of our major ideals because it speaks to the need to not go after riches or popularity first & foremost (side note: there are at least 6 official versions of this hymn, all extremely close in meaning). the fact that modern society is so concentrated on popularity & shallow things bugs me, especially because I can easily get that way really quickly. It comes down to the point that there is no real heart & soul in it if we decide to stick to the way mainstream society & media is going.

A place & time…

Nowadays everyone seems to want to get places at certain times with certain milestones reached at that time & place. To me, I’ve almost given up on those certain milestones because I’ve come to realize, that for myself at least, that by living life by some kind of list & schedule isn’t really living at all because it leaves out time for really living at all. If I live out my life by some strict, pre-set schedule, then I wouldn’t be able to notice those around me that are hurting, whether by my own hand or that of others…And I would have missed the chance to spot the small bird looking up to see what was above him when I was out photographing flowers & birds the other day.

- Looking Up -
– Looking Up –

For me, it’s come down to the point where I’m trying to learn as I go about my day without scheduling out every minute of every day…Not that I’m the kind of person to do that, or even stick to it if I did. I’m not exactly inclined to be that rigid with my life and I’m trying to do my best not to be too lazy with how I go about my life. There are times when I wonder what on earth I’m going to do, but there are also times when I realize that I just need a little downtime; my problem is that we all get the two easily confused. I’m in the position that I want to learn from things as I go about life and I really don’t want to miss a chance to absorb, in a good way, what’s going on around me.

Personally, I think it’s come down to a matter of personality; one person loves to have every minute of every day scheduled while the next person plays it by ear. If it comes to the point that stress is a major factor, then I think that rigidity isn’t worth all that much because we were meant for so much more than to just stress out about things. Sometimes, all we have to do is take a little look around when we’re stressed out, or too preoccupied, and then we might learn something along the way.

A place for review…

Now I haven’t done one of these for quite some time, and I’d like to take the time to say that a must read, for me, among current books just released is The Soul of the Camera: The Photographer’s Place in Picture-Making by David duChemin. I’ve only finished the first few chapters and it’s something that’s quite amazing because it talks, and discusses, about the role we play when we take photographs because we comprise the proverbial soul of the camera in that it’s our emotions that go into making the image. Getting this book a few days before July 1st, Canada Day 2017, I pretty much know what’s dominating my non-theological readings during the long weekend and it’s this book (as well as finishing up War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy for the umpteenth time).

This long weekend, I’ll probably be out taking photographs, while not taking in the Canada Day celebrations because of how busy they get, and I’m going to at least try to take photographs that mean something. For me, life’s a little too short not to care about what the Creator’s let me be able to do, so I’m going to do something with what I’ve been given. The first book above has made me wonder if I’m really putting my heart & soul into what I’m doing, photographically or otherwise; many things have made me wonder this before and here this book is, reminding me yet again. Yet I am always reminded by how easy I end up lashing out when I’m frustrated and end up messing up my chances to be real in life & how I take photographs. Still working on this idea of putting more soul into my photographs, I’m far from getting it right with any consistency, but I’ll try each time.

When it comes to photographs already taken, reviewing them can be a good thing, especially if you’re going about it looking for vision & soul in the shot itself. Maybe it’s me, but I’ve come to realize just how far short I’ve fallen when it comes to doing the right thing and now, little by little, I’m trying to recover from that fault. When it comes to life, I’m slowly, and painfully trying to slow myself down & examine why I am the way I am, and when it comes to photography, I’m learning to slow it down & really examine a scene before I take a shot; either way, I’m slowly learning to really put my heart & soul into it.

In odd places & spaces…

Over the last few weeks, working on a personal photography project, I’ve often wondered just how much we miss by not stopping for a while to explore small things in tiny spaces when we’re out in nature. I mean, thinking about it as I was out this weekend, photographing the local botanical gardens, I began to look around at spots I wouldn’t naturally stop to take the odd photograph, let alone somewhere between 10-20 shots of a small scene no bigger than the size of a car tire. For me, I guess, stopping to examine a tiny scene makes me think that much harder when trying to photograph it, especially without a macro lens, but life doesn’t always give us a chance for a redo, or the granting of wishes to have more gear right away, so I worked with what I had.

- Greens -
– Greens –

Does the above photograph achieve that? It did at the point of capture and, after some minor refinements (Clarity & Noise among them), it comes out as a scene that at least inspires me to look a bit closer at scenes I normally would usually, and normally pass up. In a way, it inspires me to stop, look & listen (metaphorically of course) to see what how my vision is doing when it comes to photography. Will it inspire others to get out there? Maybe…I sure hope so. Will it inspire like a good song? Probably not even close, but that’s okay because I’m not trying to beat someone else to it…I’m just trying my best to inspire. The way I figure it, the Creator’s given us a beautiful planet to live on and we’ve mucked it up, but there’s still a few good spots to get out & explore.

- White Trumpet Call -
– White Trumpet Call –

Perhaps that’s why I tend to gravitate towards peaceful scenes: there’s less noise & chaos surrounding me when I’m there. Maybe because it’s such a crazy world that a little peace & quiet goes a long way, maybe it’s because there’s so much shallowness out there in the media, but, either way, a little peace & quiet goes a long way in today’s world of shallow never-ending glitz & glamor. There’s so much out there that really has not much of any meaning to it, so why add to it? I’ll end this post with a song suggestion, a song that is quite inspiring, at least to me, and one to sing to: Grace Alone written by Thrice’s Dustin Kensrue (Kings Kaleidoscope performs this one just right on their album, Becoming Who We Are).

The 5th season…

Here in Canada, the concept of a fifth season can often sound strange to outsiders because it doesn’t refer to an actual season, but to sports, namely ice hockey & the NHL in particular. A league with more American teams than Canadians that’s yet about 49% Canadian when it comes to athletes. The fifth season is something that I’m not going to argue is a ridiculous term, but I will argue that it’s just something that might carry quite a bit more weight than it should; we get all carried away when our team loses (sorry Toronto, but it’s just funny when you lose), and we bond over a sport that can sometimes take our mind of off what really matters…Caring for & inspiring others. We get carried away by sports, only to forget about each other, something that I’m guilty of on so many occasions.

Thinking about it, and how sports can sometimes suck all the life out of us when we get too crazy about it, it seems like we, as a people, are so dominated by entertainment that we get drawn away from really thinking about each other. And, most of the time, it’s not restricted to the Fifth Season either because it seems like there’s no single time that we’re not bombarded with distractions, from sports, media, or otherwise. Where the Fifth Season comes in is when we get so caught up waiting for some action in the sports realm that we forget to get any movement, in any direction, from ourselves, planting ourselves down on the couch in front of the TV instead. I get guilty of this quite quickly, especially when the season passes halfway, mostly because it’s when the games tend to get more interesting & intense with the teams fighting for points needed to make the post-season.

Looking at it just before the media circus is going to gear up, it’s interesting how much is hyped up and just how much it flops when the actual regular season begins in September, when the teams begin playing for points. I’m not mocking the media circus so much as mocking the fact that it gets us to the point that we let the noise of it all distract us from what’s really important in life. So, here’s to the Fifth Season and not letting it distract us from helping & inspiring others.

Looking in the mirror…

We, myself included, often trust the media so much that we’ve let it affect how we live our lives; we let mainstream media use their own employees in interviews to get their own point across or cutting out on interviews intentionally (CNN, I’m calling you out on this tactic), but we cut corners ourselves as well. Personally, it’s come to the point that I’m still getting mad at it, but I’ve fumbled so many times that looking in the mirror isn’t any better. Humility isn’t overrated and I’ve got to realize that on a daily basis; the thing is, I’ve got to stop letting that need slip while I’m getting angry at the media…While not letting them off the hook.

It sucks for me, but only because I’ve made it suck. I’ve been working on a personal photography project lately, choosing a subject/theme that is based on a certain color that I don’t necessarily photograph a lot of, or necessarily enjoy, but, although it might suck for me for now, it challenges me…And that’s what I’m after (challenging myself, not making it suck). It’s the same, or at least it should be, with how we work: if we’re stuck in what we think is a dead-end job, it’s probably at least a bit our fault because we let it get us down (especially when we complain about it) and want to get out so fast that we forget to think that we might be there for a reason. On a personal note, I may actually love my job, but for now I’ll admit I really like it. In other words, we forget to face the mirror and really ask what’s really going on; I’m so guilty of this that it can really suck.

Sometimes, we need to challenge ourselves by looking in the mirror and asking ourselves in what way we need to grow…And not just in our hobbies, but in life as well. While I’m not one to prescribe anything, knowing full-well I’ll most likely fail at it, I’m going to at least make challenging myself a strong priority.

Thoughts…

Color can be a tricky thing to get right when photographing various subjects; I can just hear the gearheads saying that all that’s needed is the latest camera. While that’s nowhere near the truth for the most part because there’s usually a way to achieve it through the use of computer programs, correct filters, or even cleaning the glass; it’s more so about interpretation into a workable file for printing. We’re supposed to be translating what we felt when we took the shot, not necessarily transliterating it; like life, photography is all about feeling, not tired formulas.

In life, we get stuck when we get the two mixed up (transliteration vs. translation), because we forget to bring across what something makes us feel…I’m so at fault for this most of the time as well. Most of the time, we can’t just say “here you go” and then just leave it at that; for me, at least, it doesn’t quite work that way because, half of the time at least, I want to know why, or at least some attempt at the answer to my questions. There’s so much out there that has literally no depth to it (i.e. pop culture), so why intentionally add to the noise? This is one of the things I end up struggling with because I don’t really want to be adding to the noise, but inspiring someone.

In the end, for me at least, the biggest reason I began this blog was to not only air out the odd grievance or two, but try to reach out & inspire someone…by my photography or otherwise. I’m not one for making a point too quickly, so most of the time, these posts turn into a rambling rant and, maybe they do add to the noise, but I at least hope that they add to it in a positive way. The idea that color can easily be transliterated in a photograph instead of translated just right does get me at least a bit upset, mostly because I’m so guilty of this, and doing this can easily make something uninspiring, but that’s my personal opinion; it’s one that I can’t necessarily flesh out in an argument or debate, so I’m just going to leave it at that. So, get out there & inspire!

- Tree & Flowers -
– Tree & Flowers –

Respectfully…

Sometimes, it gets a bit much, society telling us who we should be & what we should be doing to get what job that society wants us to get, with governments telling us what we should think. I get that it’s not so obvious here in North America, but I’m tired of the somewhat subversive nature in the mainstream media; there isn’t a day that goes by that people who lost the election tell us what to think and those that won the election tell us what to think (I’m referring to the American elections & the recent BC elections here). The media is so full of it when they say that things have to improve now because of who won (BC elections) or how bad it’s going to be because of who lost (US elections). The last time I checked, there’s still a job to do for each of us and bills to pay; what really bugs me is when politicians & the media start to interfere in what we believe…Why was there little to no coverage of the Coptic Christians that were killed simply because of their beliefs in Egypt and so much coverage of a supposed split in the presidential couple? What’s going on with us that we’ve let it come to the point that outlets like CNN can muck around with photography in their stories, misrepresenting the facts in protests? I, personally think that it’s come this far because we’ve let the politics get in the way of what we really believe.

Looking at how society has morphed into this beast that shows no signs of slowing down, I can’t help but wonder at how crazy it’s gotten, all because we, myself included, have gone after the next paycheck instead of trying to help and/or inspire the person that’s really hurting right next to me. In the 80s & 90s, it was about the flashiest stuff and it hasn’t really changed at all, just on the surface of it all, being repackaged as the newest, next best thing, all with some new styling that seems to make us think that it’s different. Looking at how I think I’ve progressed in life, and photography, I hope I’ve gotten better, but hindsight isn’t always right immediately; I remember watching a podcast on photography where the challenge was to engage in a personal project that would take up a few months to help us grow and I can’t help but think that sometimes working through it is the best way to go. So, I took the challenge and I’m learning to really think about what I’m doing; now I just have to get progression in how I’m doing otherwise, growing as well.

So, to the politicians & mainstream media out there, I’ve got to say, respectively, forget you, because I’m going to try to work with others instead of worrying about the superficial crap that you want me to worry about. I’m going to start trying to inspire & comfort others instead of just worrying about myself and what society thinks of me. If I fail, I’m just trying to go about doing my best and I hope that at the end of it all, I’ve helped/inspired at least one person.

What gets me…

…Is the complete over-insistence on what society wants from us instead of the desire & need to inspire others. I mean, c’mon, when did we get so hung up on methodology & certain lists that we forget about the others around us that ARE hurting that we CAN help? I’ve certainly screwed this up so many times that, when I see others do it, it reminds me of my own shortcomings and literally gets me frustrated, to say the least. Shouldn’t we just learn to slow it down & listen, let alone trying to do it all on our own? I’ve failed on this so many times that I’m quite literally talking to myself here as well.

In photography (yes, it’s that rant again), it’s become all about that latest piece of tech or how famous we’ve become through how many shots we’ve sold. In life, it’s become about that latest thing we’ve got & what shiny new toy we’ve got, but have we really thought about how shallow it’s making us? I’m just venting here, but I’m beginning to think that we need to forget about the megapixels and focus on the meaning & the inspiration behind the shot or the person. Like the mainstream media, we’re so hung up getting the most clicks that we’re just doing things that don’t really go very deep at all…And before I’m labeled an alt-right nut, I’d like to point out that the alt-right stuff disgusts me just as much as the regular person. I’m just as tired, as the next person, of being flooded with all the sensationalist crap coming from the CNN & Fox outlets out there, so I’m beginning to really look at this with a grain of salt…It’s just that the proverbial grain of salt is getting much bigger these days.

So, while this might seem a bit winded coming from me, I’m beginning to see that venting, in a decent way, is slowly becoming a way to relieve all the pent-up frustrations I’ve got. Who cares if we’ve got the latest stuff or if we’re rooting for the most likely person to succeed? I’d rather root for the underdog who’s trying to make it through with a bit of humility because, to me, that’s being a bit more real than the favorite.

I got nothing…

Isn’t it always a real downer when we’ve got nothing to say, nothing to do? Sure, sometimes not having anything pressing to do can be a good thing, but sometimes it leads our minds to wander and then we get lost in that wandering. Sometimes all it takes is a good book, a good drink (the non-alcoholic kind), or even just a nudge from that still small voice inside, to get back on track & get inspired. Oddly enough, for me, it sometimes is a good song over the radio while I’m driving, or from some other music player; it’s some country song, some gospel song, or, on the rare occasion, a Good Charlotte song (I’m thinking of either The River or We Believe, or even something from their newest work) because my strange mind just works that way. While I’m not exactly onboard with everything about them, the band does inspire me a bit in their music.

- Tree & Flowers -
– Tree & Flowers –

The above photograph was taken a few months ago, but while I was thinking about the new album from Good Charlotte, Youth Authority, I figured that, in a completely unrelated way, I should take a second look at some of my photographs from the gardens where this shot was taken. This shot, and another that was similar, stuck out to me, but this one had a better composition so I decided to bring out what I remember feeling at that time when I took the shot. Did I get it? Maybe. Did it in inspire me to try it again? YES. With all the refinements that I made (vignette, clarity, vibrancy, noise & select color adjustments), I actually succeeded in bringing out my intent for this photograph, something I couldn’t do when I was going over this shot the first time.

Thinking about it, when I got nothing, inspiration can come from the most unlikely of areas, often from something completely unrelated. Inspiration can often show up when we’re not even thinking about what to do and sometimes we just have to ride that wave, or just remember what it was for when we’ve got time to get out and follow through on what inspired us. So, when we got nothing, sometimes I think the best idea is to just go back & learn from past things we’ve done to inspire us.