I attended an interesting talk last night that asked a couple of questions I’ve never really considered before in terms of my own practice as a photographer.
As a photographer, do you enjoy the thrill of the chase involved in finding a good picture or do you enjoy the final image more?
For me, the final image is everything. While I do enjoy wandering around and taking pictures, it can be quite painful and frustrating at times. Looking at the final image either on screen or in print is what makes it all worthwhile.
Do you take pictures with a view to recording what is happening now, always with an eye on how your pictures will be viewed several years in the future, or do you take pictures simply for the sake of taking them at that moment?
I definitely take pictures with an eye on how they will be viewed in the future. I used to be very particular about excluding things like logos and cars and street fashions, simply because the currency of the subject matter makes it too familiar to be remarkable. It was a while before I realised that in twenty years time images of these subjects will in fact be very interesting.
I’m curious to hear how others answer these questions!
This thought kind of follows on from this one, where I question the reliability of asking yourself to think back to when you were at your happiest. While I still think it’s near impossible to answer this question – and indeed find your purpose in life – I do think there are some questions you can ask that will help you on your way.
This list of seven strange questions from Mark Manson is particularly interesting.
I especially like questions #2, #3, #4, #6, and #7…
- What is true about you today that would make your eight year-old self cry?
- What makes you forget to eat and poop?
- How can you better embarrass yourself? (This one needs some explaining, so read the article by Mark).
- If you had to leave the house all day every day, where would you go and what would you do?
- If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered?
Probably still not going to give you reliable answers – because your thoughts will always be coloured by recent experiences – but an interesting exercise in navel gazing nonetheless!
I had an interesting conversation with a client recently. She was advocating the practice of sitting quietly and asking yourself to think back to when you were at your happiest. The idea is that when you find that moment, you should plan your life to go forward in that direction.
While this is a nice idea in principle, I think it’s fundamentally flawed because we can’t reliably determine when we were at our happiest.
At any given moment, our thoughts and decisions are coloured by what is going on, or what has recently gone on around us. This uncontrollable mental filter changes the way we think, so with such grand questions it’s highly likely we will come to different answers on different days.
The only way to reliably determine when we are/were at our happiest is to engage third parties for triangulation. Yes, we can come to a decision on our own, but would independent observers reach the same decision?
Keeping a journal or blog can help, but our interpretation of what we have written can again be coloured by recent events.
An independent viewpoint is key. The difficult part is finding the observer who has known you long enough, and well enough, to be objective and honest.
Keeping a journal over a period of time is useful for reflection on how we behave. Reviewing a series of entries looking for recurring themes, common feelings, consistently helpful or problematic thoughts/ideas, and action-tendencies can reveal a lot about us, and provide input to a roadmap for modifying our behaviour.
That’s one of the reasons I’m starting this blog. The self-reflection parts are not meant to be of much interest to anyone but myself, but I suppose there are some nosey types (like me) who will read it because they like to observe. We’re all the same you know!
Oh, another reason for the blog is for keeping notes about what I’m doing and where I’m going with some of the ongoing photography projects I’m working on – kind of like a public notebook.
I’ll try to add one of my own archive photographs along with each post to keep things visually interesting and add a bit of variety!