Life is full of expectations. From the very beginning of our childhood, we are surrounded by experiences of expectation. From the excitement the night before Christmas over the first anxiety of exams in school to the first kiss – imagination, hope and expectations are driving us and determine our way to feel.
We can feel disappointed when the expectations were to high and reality did I not deliver what we expected. We can feel excited before we enter the experience and that excitement can be very fulfilling and bring our pulse up. In photography, we can have the biggest expectations with regard to our pictures and compare these with others. We can be surprised how well some pictures come out and we can be very disappointed by pictures that suck.
Expectations are the drivers to take the camera in the first place. Last week I watched a documentary about Vivian Meier, a nanny that made pictures during here spare time – a lot of them, very good ones. But she never got published during her lifetime. She ended up with about 100000 negatives, most of them never made it as a print during her lifetime.
What were her expectations when she took the camera? She barely did see the final results. She did not drive towards publishing, at least not with the same drive to make pictures. What made her tick? What did she expect?
We may need learn to manage our expectations, because expectation is something good when it makes us move and is motivating. However, it may also get in our way when we are overburdened by it and it gets in the way to allow creativity flow. The right level of expectation is good, but we should not be driven by its energy alone. We should learn what it does with us and how we can use it in the best way rather than allow it to determine our feelings and burden us too much with the feeling of pressure. Pressure starts in the head – and it’s often the result of too high expectations.
Our photos should please us in the first place, and they should be good for our development. All we should expect from us and the pictures we make is, that they allow us to grow.
We can expect to grow. But not too fast. We need to grow in a pace that lets us control the way. And enjoy the journey. That is all that is expected from us.
Canon recently announced that two new cameras with impressive resolution will arrive soon. The technical specifications sound very promising – more than 50MP, interesting new features, especially for the landscape photographer. This new gear is tempting – indeed.
But, the more I think about it, the less I need these cameras. They do not improve my photography significantly. They are incredible tools – true! But the tool is just a tool. The best carpenter can produce beautiful craft with mediocre tools, but the worst carpenter can get the best tools – they will not make him master of the craft.
We life in a universe of things, and things are dominating our day to day life.
It is very difficult to not be entangled by this culture. Things are shiny, nice, and somehow we think that we are connected to them, that we become somehow different if we own these things. It is what we learn from the very beginning. Even in school it starts. But when you think intently about this and ask the right questions:
What would significantly improve my art? –
You will come up with answers that are quite simple. And cheaper than the latest gear. Of course – if you are the master carpenter, you will try to get the best tools, because then they do make a difference. But if you are not there yet, some other things will suite you better.
I just printed an old picture that I shot with my Power Shot G11. You now what: The picture is amazing, even without 50MP.
time can never be lost or found- it can only be used more wisely.
Eternity is nothing that can be achieved by us – as long as we perceive it as a duration or point in distant future. However, if eternity is something so remotely in the future that the past is everything but a shadow of the moments that were – then future and past do not matter anymore.
As they do not matter in the present moment.
When we are in the present moment, we experience a glimpse of eternity. Not being distracted by thoughts of the future or the past, only the present moment releases us from every burden we have – and we gain our personal eternity.
Eternity is now and now is eternity.
I like digital photography.
My photography has improved significantly in terms of quality of the print, the way the pictures can be used, shared etc.
However, it has not changed the way that I make pictures. I still try to get it right in camera, avoiding a lot of post production work.
Though I am technophile, I realise that I am not very happy doing this digital work. I love to print and finally hold the print in my hands (see it, touch it, feel it). I live to frame it and could not stop staring at it on the wall. But the digital work …
I use a digital calendar. I love this.
It makes my life so much easier. I can use and synchronise it through all of my devices. And yet – I always have the feeling that a paper based calendar would fit me better. I love touching the paper. I love writing with a pen. And I have a better feeling about what the week will be about. It gives me pleasure to use it, touch it, feel it. I like using my hands to write, every letter a little bit different, the lines forming a peace of artwork.
I read on iBook. And the digital magazines. I like this.
It saves me space, time and money. I do not have to carry around a lot of weight. The books are always with me, I could read wherever I want, whenever I want.
But – touching a book, holding it in the hands, reading printed words, skimming through the paper, being surprised by good typography and new font types … feeling the paper – that is a different experience that the iPad will never give me.
So, I am analogue.
If there is one thing that determines our perception of our life – how we feel, what we want … – that one thing world be our mind. While our physical life, our environment does not quite change that much, our judgment about the world and our personal position on how we perceive this world changes dramatically – depending on our mood, our experience, our current being.
One day we might be down and become aggressive for small reason, the other day something very bad could happen and we continue as if nothing could bring us out of temper.
Our mind and our mindset is the most powerful influence we have on our life, and yet it’s is the least understood. We have no manual, no instructions how to face our fears or how to control our appetites for new things. We can not control it very well.
But we can learn how we “tick” and what is good for us – and with time we may even gain some control and become more aware of the traps and mechanisms of our mind. That is what is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness is especially good when we make art. Art is an act where we have to speak about the truth about ourself and how we perceive the world. You could say, that creativity can only work by not controlling the mind – but I think this is misleading. The mind has its own rules and is by far too loud that it alone represents us as persons. There are wider things within us that want to be heard in the creative process. And to get them to speak up, the mind has to be kept at bay – we need to master at least some aspects of it to become creative and bring forward what wants to be heard.
If we can not do that, we will most likely experience creative phases as luck and not as the result of an intended struggle.
Anyone who read Douglas Adams knows that number and the meaning. Who did not will just see the number.
The same thing (a number) can have very different meaning to us, depending on our background and our history. Any information is given meaning only in the moment that a subject is confronted with it and makes up her or his mind. Without a person, there is no meaning. That consequently means – meaning is subjective.
If you want to express something more with your art than the sheer visual appearance, you have to provide meaning. Very difficult, because the interpretation of what you show is obviously not up to you. But what you can do is try to translate of what you feel- you subjective interpretation of a scene – and try to express your feelings by using your visual toolbox. Will this convey what you meant to say?
You can not be sure.
But if the result of your craft is something that still resonates within you, at least you know that you are on the right path. With that approach you will not reach everyone, but you will reach the people who resonate in the same way. And that is the main goal. There are many artists that are not my personal taste (e.g. Helmut Newton), they do not provide any meaning to me. Others do. I follow those who provide meaning as their art makes sense to me. If we do things according to our inner voice – even if it seems to be a repetition of something hat has been said before – this is much better than to say nothing at all or to say things not authentically.
Your goal is to stick to your story and not try to be who you are not!
42 is always the right approach.
Life is about growing. We never stay the same person, but change constantly as does our environment. We live on change, you could even say that change is one of the major factors that drive us through life. For example: we can not directly detect temperatures, all we can detect is the withdrawal or the input of energy through our skin. If you would give an ice cold coin to someone on a hot day, that person in the first moment can not say if the coin is hot or cold, for that reason he might drop it not to get burned. We can only detect the temperature change.
Same is with our artist life or our skills. We will never approach to an end, we will constantly change (grow). And for that reason we need to be open to what is out there and might influence us. We are never finished, there is no static end shape of ours. And that is why our photography will constantly develop, too. The possibilities are unlimited. We might get to the same point twice and make very different pictures in different light and a different vision.
I find this very encouraging. There is always something new around the corner, and that is us.
Life is a draft.
Whenever we make photographs, one of the most influential ways to improve the picture is to choose the right perspective. To choose the best point of view, the best distance, the right angle to allow the scenery to unfold it’s beauty. Perspective however has nothing to do with the tools you are using. Perspective is strictly and straightforward the point of view that you choose. No lens, camera, tripod or filter can help you in finding the right perspective. Isn’t it astonishing and at the same time beautiful that with photography and life, it is all the same: no fancy thing or tool or gadget or advice will help you a lot to get the most of your life (or the scenery), it is always you choosing the right perspective.
Everybody needs a lighthouse. Some point of orientation, something to provide guidance and perspective. Something that drives us to one direction, that makes us move and leave our current position. A lighthouse is not only something to warn against fatal reefs, but also a landmark, an important point of the journey.