It’s 4:40 a.m. Light from the waning moon turns the bedroom a flickering ivory as scudding clouds open and close their shutter. My mind is a rat on a wheel thinking about gear. What to take and what to leave at home.
In three days I am off to Australia to visit son and daughter-in-law whom I’ve not seen for two years, stopping in Thailand on the way out to catch up with one of my oldest pals and a few days in Singapore on the return leg. Assuming international travel doesn’t go into lock-down due to Covid-19.
My mind races along it’s well beaten track of trying to balance minimum gear with maximum imagined opportunity. I know it’s a pointless task. I’ve been here dozens of times and there is no right answer and I’ll end up taking a bunch of kit I won’t use but I am too afraid to take a single body and lens or, God forbid, just my phone.
In an effort to get off this track and come to some happy compromise of choices, and maybe return to sleep, I muse on the Way We Shoot and the previous three offerings from Pascal, Philippe and Paul to see if there is any help in that direction. But no I’m off down another rabbit hole; the Why Do I Shoot? at all singularity. This is the full-on black hole of the Night Terrors of why on earth I even bother. Why do I need to ever take another photograph? Nobody ever sees most of them. It’s not as if I’m lacking a library full of sunrises, sunsets, bicycles chained to lampposts, Tuscan villas, snowy mountains, children playing in the sea, antelope, rabbits, birds, surfers, boats in harbours, full moons, crescent moons, on and on and on.
Imagine I still had all the cash I’ve spent on photography over the years I could do, what? Paint the house, Lord knows it needs it. Go on a world cruise, what horror. A new car? Nope. Travel? But then I’m back to wanting to take a camera. And so it goes on, this peculiar addiction that is photography. My name is Steve and I’m a photographer. Of sorts.
Of course this night-time craziness has it’s opposite. The peaceful meditative time of wandering aimlessly with camera in hand as an aid to seeing. Slowing down and letting the world in as it is or how it might be, not how I already “know” it is.
Philippe talked about PMPM, Putting Myself in Photo Mode, and it being a discipline. I’ve never been good at discipline. I like the idea of it but it just takes so much, well, discipline. My approach is much more JWI. Just Wing It. Or IBAOTN. It’ll Be Alright On The Night. But of course it is only ever alright on the night if you do the prep and all the hard work first.
Rather than having a disciplined way to shoot or even a half-ways consistent approach, my photography arc seems to be one of stumbling along a path in cloud, hoping for inspiration, in the knowledge that every now and then I find myself in the mythical uplands with gorgeous light and some combination of kit that works in hand. That and having the aspiration to become ever better at my craft. And I long ago learnt the best way to become good at something is to hang out with folk that are better than me. Which is why I hang around Dear Susan.
The Why Do I Shoot question is unanswerable. What started off as taking snaps on holiday over time became a minor hobby and has now become a compulsion. I now have to pick up a camera and create images, the why of it is really irrelevant.
Having written this middle-of-the-night post it’s too late to return to bed so I open my mail and top of the list, from Wex, is the announcement of the new, shiny, best ever, Olympus E-M1 Mkiii. Apparently it’s got No Limits and I can Break Free. My Mkii is now officially old and like me will need more regular tlc. It’s definitely going to Oz!
And now, time for coffee.
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