Lest we remember…

Sometimes I think we forget the sacrifices that the veterans made for us in the world wars; take for example the recent posting of pro-Nazi posters on the UBC (University of British Columbia) campus that hailed Nazi Soldiers as the ‘real’ heroes. As a graduate of SFU (Simon Fraser University), I can’t help but feel like the ‘rival’ university of UBC has dumber students, but they’re everywhere and it’s because we have the unnerving ability to forget things and disrespect people who make sacrifices…Just look at who’s the Canadian Prime Minister: he’s thought about taxing the military servicemen who protect this country!

If it wasn’t so sad, it might be a tiny bit funny, but this is the 21st Century and goodness knows we’ve lost almost all decency & respect for the generations that came before us; we want to do it all on our own. I hate to say this, but we cannot do this on our own…The past decade has shown us that we keep screwing it up. I’m just as guilty as the next person, but I think it’s time we forget about how important we think we are and really get in touch with those that came before us. Look at our news outlets like CNN: their front pages are all about the latest news that screams ME ME ME and nothing much about how others are being affected by our bad decisions. Both sides have got it wrong in one way or other and it’s becoming a daily contest of one-upmanship just to see who cane scream the loudest to get more views or website visits.

I’m tired of trying to have a kind of frosty view about the world around me when everything seems to be getting way out of whack. No wonder there are so many alternative news sites that barely research stories and then are counted as reliable by the public…In our rush to say anything, we’ve created the alt-right & alt-left just because we want to do whatever we think we should be able to do. In this day & age, I’m beginning to think we need a little more emphasis on inspiration & respect instead of all the emphasis of doing whatever we want. I want this to be more than just a morbid outlook on life because I don’t want to just accept things as they are, but do something that just might inspire someone…Maybe, just maybe, I might just inspire someone.

- Those Beams -
– Those Beams –
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Stereotypes…

What really gets me ticked off these days are the many comparisons that so-called normal society makes about specific people and certain things; a big part of this is the stereotypes that are often implied when this happens. When we compare one person to the next person, we just might be saying that the one is a better person because of who they seem to be and what they say they stand for: a guy from the countryside isn’t as smart as the guy from the city because he doesn’t have the same education that the city slicker has.

- Raindrops on Purple -
– Raindrops on Purple –

This integrates itself into the various aspects of our lives in what we eat to what music we listen to, what we do for a hobby, who we vote for, and where we live; for instance, there are certain neighbourhoods where only certain people should go, according to so-called rules. Who says that the average joe with nothing more than a high school degree can’t live in a decent area of the city and vote more conservatively than the next guy? Stereotypes suck us in, thanks to certain changing rules & labels that mainstream society puts on us. The same goes for the arts: who says the average artist from the West can’t be drawn in by art from East & actively pursue that style in his art? I’ve got to make a disclaimer here: I’m really inspired more so by Asian painting than European sometimes because of the way landscapes are treated (just take a look at how ancient Chinese artists painted landscapes like the Huangshan mountain range).

- Raindrops on a Rose -
– Raindrops on a Rose –

The above photographs are a result of me tinkering with blur & distance, nowhere near the level of those ancient painters, but they are a direct result of seeing the ancient paintings of the artistic greats and wanting to do better, using blur to portray beauty & emotion while they, the ancient painters, used colour, or lack of,  & technique/style to get across the beauty & emotion of the landscapes they painted; I wanted to make the first about distance, on a small scale, while the ancient paintings were about using objects & weather (like fog) to convey scale, distance or size. The last photograph is more of me reverting to type and taking a photograph that doesn’t deviate from what I’m used to. What I’m ranting on about, and trying to get across, in my own nonsensical way, is that we sometimes need to take a peek outside our little world and see what others are doing, for inspiration, no matter who or what we are; please note that I’m not talking about matters of faith here, just matters of art & society outside of it.

Time…

Thinking aloud about what time really means, I’ve come to think of it as more than just the passage of events & moments. Photographers deal with scenes, photographing in on a set time like 1/500 of a second or even compressing 4 minutes into a single photograph. When certain events that divide or unite us, like the assaults in Edmonton or the shooting in Las Vegas, we either take time to slow down & ask why, or lash out, like the mainstream media has, at the politicians & those in charge. This post has taken some time for me to get to, not only because of a lack of time or my own laziness, but trying to find the right, or decent, words to say.

For me, personally, I do care about gun control, wondering why we’re so fascinated by weaponry, but I’ve come to realize that it’s the person who pulls the trigger; the paintbrush isn’t to blame when the painter has a painting that turns out bad, nor the camera when the photographer’s shot turns out crappy. For me, it’s about how much we’ve messed up that we want to blame others for our mistakes, something I do all too often. From the outside looking in, the mainstream media is always looking to blame and seldom looks to examine; I’m looking right at you CNN & company. I’m not going to walk further into the gun control debate, because, for me, it’s about the mentality behind the weapons, not just the weapons themselves.

Change begins with us taking a stand & doing what we’re called to do, which means not giving in to the ones who focus on the spur of the moment reaction. It’s not about popularity, it’s about doing, or at least trying to do, what should be done to lift each other up past the labels that mainstream society puts on us. It can really stink when we get caught up in the mainstream and feel like there’s no other alternative…And by mainstream, I mean both the left & right political ends of society. When we get stuck in that rut, we forget to inspire others most of the time and end up caring much more about personal standing than really caring for others.

When all else fails…

Thinking about it, I can’t help but wonder why the last thing I do when I’m struggling with something is to look up (aka pray). Why can’t it be the first thing? I mean, c’mon, I know I can’t do anything decent on my own because of just how much I’ve mucked things up, so I should be thinking three steps ahead, not three steps behind. This goes for everything I do, not just in life, but in my hobbies as well; I guess it’s just the fallen nature in me that doesn’t think things quite through. It’s sad when I see that others are suffering and I’m the one thinking that woe is me; I’m NOT judging anyone but myself in this (it’s happened a few times to me and a certain instance has brought this topic to mind).

- Lynn Canyon Rapids -
– Lynn Canyon Rapids –

The things that I’ve seen around me makes me wonder what on earth I’m doing to deserve even another chance, let alone a second chance, but that’s just the depressing voice in my mind. I’m not going to dwell on it, just take it for what it is and then try to make something of it that might just turn into something of worth to someone…It comes down to inspiration with me. Do I think I’m there yet? Maybe, but I’m going to keep trying. It’s kind of like what Winston Churchill said about success: Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. I’ve just got to say that we’ve got to rethink what success really means because I sure don’t think it’s about things or how we’re feeling at the moment, but it’s about reaching out to others and walking with them, inspiring them, and confiding in them. I just have to say this: If you ever feel like nothing’s worth it, seek out help, especially that of a good, solid counselor that can show you that life is worth it. That’s what I love about the Good Charlotte song, Hold On: it’s about not giving up, because it will get better.

We’re going to fail & fall flat on our faces, wondering what’s going on with us, but the key is to NOT give up; it’s a message I’ve got to keep reminding myself of daily…And yes, it is worth it, even if we don’t see it at first. We’re at the point that we need to learn from our failures and move forward, not dwell on them or get more things to fill our time up with the shallowness of materialism. This all is just my take on things and my way of ranting out my thoughts on the matter.

Yeah = Utah?

Ever experience autocorrect making mistakes (i.e. like the one above)? And yes, this is a rhetorical question. I’ve had it happen that autocorrect corrects itself to auto-coconut, but don’t ask me on what planet that makes sense because I’m starting to really think that common sense has all but disappeared these days. Just like all this talk about which brand name is better than the other (apart from Porsche being leagues better than BMW), it’s ridiculous, and just another way for people to sell us more things…As if we don’t have enough stuff already. Sometimes we just need to get ourselves off auto and onto something akin to manual, especially when it comes to photography.

- Cascade Falls -
– Cascade Falls –

I’ve gone through some of my photographs over & over, trying to figure myself out and where I’m going with this thing called photography that I enjoy, but it seems as about as elusive as politicians making any sense at all. The above photograph is one that I’ll most likely keep going over for months, mostly because I can’t seem to make up my mind about exactly how I want to finish it; I’ve already gone through two revisions, after the first refinement session, and I’m most likely going to keep tweaking it. I might even try a sepia, duotone, or B&W treatment on it, but the most important thing in all of this, to me, is that it wasn’t taken on auto, but on full manual; to each his own, I guess, but I’m going to keep going this way because it helps me think a little more when I’m doing things, and really muck up along the way while I’m at it which helps me learn as well.

In these days of everything going so fast, I’m thinking that we need to slow down and really think about what’s going on, but that’s not what the mainstream wants because then we’re not as gullible as they want us to be. We need to get some common sense back before the mainstream with its lack of any ethics runs roughshod over all of us. Just look at our Facebook feeds; they’re mostly about the latest stuff we’ve bought or how great we look, and little about uplifting, helping & inspiring others (I’m totally guilty of this as well). We’re at the point that we need to get past this whole gear & tech stuff and I’m at least going to try to get past it.

Good people…

I’m probably gonna take some flak naming this one after the Jack Johnson song of the same name, but I was thinking that “Where have all the good people gone?” is a question well asked because it seems, like the song implies, that we’re all missing the ‘good’ people. We’ve all got something else on our minds besides what the Creator wants for us, myself included, that we’ve let most, if not all, decency go from society. I mean, we can see it from the sensationalist headlines found on CNN (along with reused & staged footage) to the crap being spewed on every side of the spectrum. Just look at how easily we get swayed by the headlines when they are sensational instead of simply telling something simple about the story.

There’s little soul left in the news media that isn’t over-hyped, little else than shallow lyrics in pop music, and politics is whole different can of worms; I’m more than guilty of this in my photography & life, so I’m preaching just as much to myself as anyone else. What & where this really gets to me, outside of the mainstream, is in photography where everything seems to be about the latest gear and the latest technique where people show off how they do something without actually saying anything through the image at all. To a certain extent, we need to stop looking for good people when there’s plenty of change we can do right here & now by not moaning about where we’re at right now and try to inspire & help others.

- Looking Up -
– Looking Up –

I’m definitely not perfect and I’m not trying to preach aloud, but I’m beginning to wonder if what we need is a little art in our lives to help us brighten up the lives of those around us, not just ourselves…We need to become as close to the good people as we can, but we can’t do it without the Creator’s help. Doing something that means something to someone might just include just being there for them, talking to them about life & faith, or even just listening to them. Find someone and try to be a friend to them and understand what they’re going through by just listening to them at first; then let the friendship grow from there.

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.

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.

Anyone else but me…

One of the best songs, that I’ve heard in a long time, about modern society, is Hokus Pick’s Anybody Else But Me and it’s pure genius. It’s a satirical look at people wanting to be anyone else but themselves and it’s awesome, not just because they’re Canadian; sorry America, we got this one because you’ve got your teams on the Stanley Cup way too many times. We’re so focused on being famous or at least someone of noteworthiness, that we lose our uniqueness in the process. In photography, as in life, that means copying someone else’s vision, techniques, methods & beliefs blindly.

While I’ve read a lot & learnt how some really gifted professionals work through their craft, their photographs, and the way they make them, are uniquely theirs…Or at least they really should be. Forever a tinkerer, I’m going to be tinkering with the methods & ways I tweak my photographs and I’ll learn along the way, not just through my mistakes, but I’ll learn from the professionals as well; they’ve written many a book about their craft, so it’s a no-brainer using the knowledge they have to impart to help myself to grow as well. When it comes to life, we’re not out to imitate, but to grow as the Creator’s meant us to grow; we’re meant to look upwards, not downwards or horizontally…We’re not called to copy one another, but to imitate the perfect example the Creator was for us. Sometimes we’re given a feeling/impulse of what we’re supposed to do, sometimes it’s in our daily readings, and sometimes it’s in how we’re working that we’re given guidance.

Photography, compared to every other art, is so much younger than the others, but why is it that imitation is seen as flattery & striving for meaning not as important? I mean, come on, we’re not all drones or Borg here. There’s just so much out there to photograph, so that doesn’t mean we’ve got to copy others’ photographs or even their methods, but just learn from them…The same goes for life itself. It’s all in how we try not to be anybody else but ourselves…In the way we’re supposed to be.