I love the work and philosophy of David deChemin. In one of his talks or blogs he said “In order to take more interesting photos, we have to become more interesting persons.”
He then encouraged the reader/listener to put down the camera and go out and do something different. Go to the Opera, a film, read a book, read editorials. Attend an art museum, read about the masters and study their work. Do anything to change, grow and enhance your perspective, your vision and your view of the world around you. What I understood about this was that, yes we have to develop a photographic eye, but equally important was developing the ability to see the world. Photos are not created externally, but rather internally, by what we think, feel and experience. Photography is the outward expression of what’s inside our hearts and souls.
I knew long ago that I was rather a tightly strung individual. The type you’d describe as anally retentive, very stiff and rigid. I was learning to navigate the world without alcohol and I didn’t know most times how to function and do things without the alcohol. Go to a restaurant, talk to people, dance, go to a movie, confront someone, express my feelings; anything and everything required alcohol. So now, without it, I was much like an awkward teenager asking someone out for that first time. And often, I was so nervous I just broke into a sweat and froze. But I knew one of my difficulties, was having fun, just letting loose. The sharing of a deep belly splitting laugh with someone. Having fun!
So, I decided, I had to become more like Sue. You see, she saw the world as a comic strip, usually Ren and Stimpy style of humour lol! So, I came up with a mantra, “You’ve gotta get serious about having fun.” I’m sure you can appreciate how even the mantra betrayed my difficulties with the concept lol! But, it made sense to me and it worked for me. So over the course of years, I worked on looking at things through a different lens, with a bubble in the air where I filled in the words. I had to work hard at having fun and even harder at seeing the humour in life. And all that work paid off. Today, I have a sense of humour and a way of looking at things that allows me to share anecdotes both orally and written with others. I still continue to work on this to this day. My work often gives lots towards this endeavour. It never ceases to amaze me the things people will do and/or tell you! Much of which is head shaking, mouth gaping, shockingly entertaining and funny. I hope I never cease to be amazed. It creates such colour for life.
Called self portraits in photography and selfies in the world of iphones, this type of photography not only changes the way you view yourself, but you can’t help but laugh sometimes and learn not to take yourself too seriously. Some people make a 365 day project out of this. I would rather not. As it is, I try to ensure any selfie I take conceals my identity. I guard against that from intrusion on the internet. I spend most of my days being taped at work. I want my presence as low profile as I can be on the web, for someone who has photo websites and blogs and facebook and instagram … you know. So this has been both a creative endeavour for me and it has made me a more interesting person. Initially, everything I created of myself I turned into a monster. A friend looked at me and said “You know photography is an outward expression of what is inside….What is WRONG with you?” So then my next selfies consisted of making me into angels. And there were many in between, creative and different, but always concealing my identity. I learned to laugh at myself and to relax more. It helps me see the world with more humourous eyes.
Besides how I view the world, I work on what I view. I spend hours every week looking at photos. I see good stuff, great stuff and then those exceptional photos. A judge once said the difference between a mark of 8 and say, 9 or 10 (out of 10) is that it’s something that’s beyond just technically good, but something that is different, unique and original, that has not been done or seen so many times already. I can attest after seeing thousands of ‘birds on a stick’, I now realize what he meant and I instantly recognize that ‘different one’ that just makes it exceptional. But besides this, every week I try and research, just a little, something different that I did not know about before. Maybe I read a news article or a blog or a photographer interview and it sparks a question about a place, person or thing. I take a little time and research and grow my knowledge and my interestability (Kareneze.) And of course, I must not forget spelling and language. I look up words at least once a week, still trying to grasp English. There was a fad where all the self-help books espoused having and expanding emotional intelligence. I have that. It’s not what I am after. Rather, I want to expand my world view so that I enhance my ability to create which comes from the internal. I am expanding my awareness of the world around me. While all the while, I am switching lenses, trying to see the same thing through different perspectives, mostly the perspective of humour. I am becoming a better photographer and creator through becoming a more interesting person.
So, every week, I ask myself “How can I become a more interesting person so I can take more interesting photos?” It is that question that leads me to all sorts of places. Ask yourself this question. Is there a collage of selfies in your future? Tell me, where does this question lead you?