The Joyful Process of Not Figuring Everything Out
“Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked.”
| Elizabeth Berg
One contribution of the digital world is immediate access. Whenever we need access to almost whatever information we search out, we can get it at almost no costs (that we are paying a price for giving up our privacy is another story that I will not cover in here). In this blog article, I am going to discuss two consequences of this change and talk about its importance for the world of photography and for me as an artist.
First, access has changed the way we think and act. Daily, information is pushed into our accounts and identified by our radar. As such, we are confronted with a continuous stream of information. Out of this information, the majority is noise and we struggle filtering out the significant ones from the noise (“The good must be put in the dish. The bad you may eat if you wish.” Cinderella). As a consequence products, trends, images or videos or even fake news spread faster and at a higher reach than ever. Through Social Media images of certain locations also spread making them attractive travelling locations for many individuals heading out to realise their wanderlust. The process of self-discovery among young adults has been paralleled by cheaper and more secure travelling. As such, individuals swarm out to nature’s last hidden treasures to make selfies from these places and to capture their visualization. They leave traces and nature currently struggles to cope with this inrush.
As a photographer I – like many others – tend to also use the filtered out information to create ideas for my next trip. While I do my best to act and behave with care, consideration and respect, I am sometimes not much different than others. In using #GoogleMaps, #GoogleEarth, #PhotoPills, #TPE in addition to some on location images I plan my trip in advance. Having a rough road map, travel plan and ideas to search out for seems important to make effective use of the costs spent for the travel.
Through this whole process I have realised however that I am limiting myself. I tend to have a biased view of reality and have pre-visualizations and expectations what I want to see and capture through my lens.
Second, access has not only changed the way we think and act, but also the way we are present on location. Because of the afore mentioned we tend to run after our pre-visualizations. As such, we have lost our preference for the now. We think, and don’t feel the environment.
What I have realized in my work is that presence on location dramatically affects the quality of my work. The more present I am, the more sustainable work I create. Work that I can look up for a long period of time. Even if it may not be on a high technical level, it has an emotional touch that makes me want to look at it. It makes me remembering the moment. As photographs are time travelling vehicles the present ones are those who feed my need to express myself as an artist.
What can we do to be more present on location?
Recently, I became a member of the association Nature First. They came up with seven principles for responsible nature photography. This is an excellent starting point. I’ll write more about the association next week.
While I wrote before on this topic when I wrote about the intention to photograph, finding the essence and finding meaning, another idea is to enjoy NOT figuring out everything before you be there. Avoiding to look at too many images taken by others on location. Avoiding to have expectations from locations, but rather sit down after arrival and breath in, smell and visualize what is layed out for us.
If we often go to the same locations, those we know very well, we tend to think less and react more. This happened to me in my last project “Together” that I captured last December in a place I call home. Within one day I captured a whole project and it is this in development and growing and growing. When looking at it, I can see myself. And this makes me very thankful and happy.
What can you do to not figure everything out?
Enjoy being and let us be thankful what nature gave us.
Nature First Photography, https://www.naturefirstphotography.org/, 12012020.