And so the annual bluebell pilgrimage begins. If previous years are anything to go by, debates will rage over how best to capture the mist cloaked carpets of blue that are abundant in so many woodlands at this time of year. Is there anything left to say that hasn’t already been said so adroitly and so frequently by those with a lot more patience and considerably sturdier tripods than mine?
It just so happens that the beckoning blues coincide with my first workshop for Light and Land (co-leading with bluebell maestro Doug Chinnery). The workshop has been advertised as one to help people see beyond the obvious and embrace -if only for an hour or a day or a week - a different way of image-making. There is clearly quite a lot of interest in an alternative approach as the the first day sold out very quickly and a second, hastily added, also sold out promptly. And so teaching has been on my mind quite a lot recently. But beyond advice about basic camera settings and a rudimentary rundown of the fundamentals of composition, what else is there to divulge? Some additional guidance about how best to set up a camera for ICM (intentional camera movement) or a suggestion about where to start when approaching multiple exposures perhaps. A group of people enthusiastic enough to tip themselves out of bed at some precocious hour in order to listen to what I have to say are surely going to be expecting something more.
The infinite variety of settings that can be employed on the back of the camera frustrate and inspire in equal measure and perhaps the most important quality to possess is curiosity and a willingness to experiment. And of course a stubborn commitment to remain until something pleasing is happening on the back of the camera. So much of what I do comes about as a result of trying, failing, trying again and failing better (with apologies to Samuel Beckett). My inspiration/creativity/vision - call it what you will - is an ad-hoc fusion of photographs I’ve seen, paintings I’ve admired, blogs I’ve read, ideas I’ve half digested and hours and hours of practice. Much of this is very personal and I’m not sure how easy that is to communicate.
The hardest thing to grasp (for me) is the truth that slowly reveals itself - the more I learn the more I realise I don’t know and the more I fall woefully and depressingly short. Minds far greater than mine have made similar observations. As with anything worth doing, progress is ponderous and laboured. I am slowly coming to the realisation that the way forward is not going to expose itself readily. I can only hope that by developing a more proficient visual language and gradually discarding all the ideas and imitations that I don’t care for, a small nugget of insight will eventually remain.
And maybe that’s the best that any of us can hope for.
This blog is lamentably sporadic; largely because every time I sit down with the germ of a half-formed idea to ponder over, I get about three or four sentences in and I realise that I haven’t even come close to figuring out what it’s all about. Thus, there seems little point in dispatching some half-formed theories into a world already awash with blogs offering every possible variation of debate and opinion.
** In timely fashion, my mother has just posted this on my Facebook timeline Diebenkorn's 10 rules for painting. Lessons in there for most creatives I think.