Archive for December, 2010


New Dawns

It’s New Year’s Eve, a time for thinking about the past year, reflecting on the achievements and milestones reached. In a minute or two, 2011 will begin and a time to look forward to what may occur.  Each new dawn brings with it a new beginning, and the new year brings a “greater” new beginning.

What do I hope for this year?  That my family remains healthy and happy. That I can continue my growth as a person and a photographer. What things I will resolve to accomplish this year?  My general New Year’s resolutions involve looking for perfection.  🙂  And for some strange reason, these resolutions are always broken before the 2nd of January!!  This year I resolve not to strive for perfection, but for excellence.

I have been listening to and reading Dr Brené Brown on living with imperfection and vulnerability, and much of her words strike a resonance within me. Her ‘wholehearted’ approach to life and creativity I have found to be inspiring.  Her discussions on vulnerability (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UoMXF73j0c&feature=channel ) are challenging.

Creativity comes from vulnerability, and being creative creates more vulnerability. Her view is that without vulnerability we protect ourselves from pain, shame, fear, anger and hurt but in losing those emotions we also lose joy, passion, love and creativity. We cannot choose which emotions we no longer want to feel, and so by trying to limit pain, we in effect, limit our ability to feel all emotions and therefore to live fully.

So this year, my goal is to allow myself to be vulnerable.  Not an easy ask for someone who survived on closing off the bad, refusing to see when things weren’t working, managing by digging deeper, trying harder and waiting for the day it would all just magically get better.  This is a ‘fear-full’ step, and already I am looking for ways to protect myself…  which sort of defeats the purpose!!

But with my vulnerability exposed, I am hoping that the images I create will reflect a clearer, less distant, less protective response to the world. If I am open to the world and all my emotions, then it seems to me that the world will respond more openly as well.

New dawns, new dreams, new beginnings.

 

 

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Family

 

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of these people. Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

Christmas time in the west and Spring Festival time in China are about families. I’m back in Australia for a few weeks, seeing family and friends and thinking of the impacts we have on each other.  I have taken a few zillion photos of the youngest family member, as well as photos of all of my family and friends. These photos may never make it to publication, may not be the best technically, but they are the ones that are my wallpaper on my computer.  These are the ones that I chat to each morning when I turn the computer on.

Being far away makes closeness important, and these photographs have a powerful emotional strength for me.  I feel close when I look at them, when I remember taking them.

I want my emotional connections to be seen in my images.  With images of family and friends I have the emotion already within me, and so it is so easy for me to see the emotion in the images.  With my other images I am never sure if I am projecting back the emotion I felt when I was seeing the vision or whether the emotional connection is clear to anyone seeing the image.   For that I need to rely on feedback.

Photos about emotion – some a private love, others to share my view of what I feel a connection with in the world.  Some successful, some needing more help.  But all meaning something to me, if not to anyone else.

 

Perfection?

Art is never defect free. Things that are remarkable never meet the spec, because that would make them standardised, not worth talking  about. Seth Godin

 

I spend so much time trying to create perfect images, perfect articles and am never satisfied with what I have done.  I am delaying sending work to a professor for assessment because I have difficulty in choosing the right images.  The Seth Godin quote pushes me to think about perfection and standardisation.  Yes, I need an understanding of ‘craft’ to make art.  But I also need to know how to break rules, changes the standard and add a whacking great dose of emotion and feeling into my work to turn it into art.

 

The fear of being laughed at, of seeming inexperienced or unprofessional come in from the other side to push me to follow the rules, to meet the standards set by others for what is ‘good’.  If I stopped allowing those little voices, or the voice from the ‘lizard brain’ that Godin talks about in ‘Linchpin’ to control me, what would happen?

 

If I spent less time tweaking settings on the camera, playing with Photoshop  and generally trying to create the perfect image, would there be more images?  Would I have more time to be outside with my camera and using it instead of worrying, smoothing out one more bit of skin, adding or subtracting a titch of exposure?

 

Would I create a whole bunch of useless images?  Too right I would.  But I do that anyway, even with all the fiddling around. Godin reminds us that Picasso created over 1000 paintings, but how many of these do we know?  The paintings we know from any major artist are far fewer than the ones they commenced and tossed out or painted over.  Thrown out not because they weren’t ‘perfect’ but because the emotion and vision weren’t there.

 

By searching for perfection, I achieve less, I have fewer images and those that exist meet ‘the standard’.  How many of them have the ‘wow’ factor?  How many of them just CANNOT be created by anyone else who followed the same rules I followed?

 

I’m giving up on ‘perfect’ and going with basic knowledge plus emotion.