Category Archives: Uncategorized

Vote for At It Again!

I often get asked what I like about being a photographer. I usually cite something suitably ethereal such as “opportunity to be creative” or “way of fuelling the desire to create art” *snorts*. The truth is far more mundane: I like people. I like observing them. I like getting to know them. I like connecting with them. Photography provides a reason (and a tool) to observe and connect with people. Even when you are not shooting people, you are still dealing with people – the owners of a place you want to shoot in, the creators of a thing you are shooting, the person who is employing you for a shoot.

{C4824368-89EC-4E5B-90C5-AD84FCBCF5E8}-Bloomsday Shoot (83 of 239)

Connecting with people is particularly pleasant, when they are an equally creative bunch. Just like the guys behind the Bloomsday Survival Kit. They are a team of artists with backgrounds in theatre, animation, dance and fine art, and for the past two years have established themselves as a literary art project around the annual Bloomsday celebrations in Dublin. Initially they came up with the eponymous Bloomsday Survival Kit, a bag of props and goodies to enhance Ulysses-lovers’ enjoyment of the Bloomsday experience. In the past year their activities have blossomed into a whole pandora’s box of performances, readings and other offerings that provide opportunity to engage with the work of James Joyce. I accompanied them on part of their way with some initial photography – a shoot which I discussed previously here.

Now they want to take the Bloomsday Survical Kit a step further. After the success of this year’s readings and performances, the four survivalists are hoping to turn Bloomsday into a street carnival. In their own words:

“Imagine Bloomsday as a fantastic Mardi Gras-like street carnival celebrating Dublin.

At it Again! bring James Joyce’s Ulysses to life through quirky products and interactive events. We make Ulysses fun, accessible and contemporary. Our manuals, kits & events travel the world promoting Irish culture abroad.

We have the guts, passion, skills and know-how to make our Bloomsday vision a reality.”

For that they need funding. No, I am not asking you to send money in a brown envelope – but you could give them your vote in the Arthur Guinness Projects. Check out their plans for a bigger, better, more fun Bloomsday celebration. It promises to be a right old romp – James Joyce himself would have enjoyed it, I am sure. Voting doesn’t cost you anything – just a click with the mouse. If you are really generous, you could vote every day, for as long as the Project site is open for voting.

As someone who has accompanied the Bloomsday Survival Kit from the margins – I did a photo shoot with them at the start of their project in 2012, I (literally) held the camera for their wonderfully funny “Glasnevin Shuffle”-Video, and I most importantly supplied a battered old suitcase for their 2012 shows (…) – I can vouch for their energy, creativity and literary sense of mission.

Click and help. Here.


(Anti-)War Photography – Part 2

It has taken me a whole month to finally conclude with part 2 of my impressions of the thought-provoking photography talks that I attended at the Borris House Festival of Writing & Ideas 2013. (Read Part 1 here.) What has finally prompted me to conclude is the arrival of a photobook that I ordered as a result of the talks, and I will discuss that in a separate post at another time. But back to Borris, Co. Carlow, where A___ and I had travelled with the intention of fangurling over Don McCullin.

Booking the second photography-related talk that was on the same afternoon that we had heard McCullin being interviewed by Colm O’Gorman, was a bit of an after-thought. Billed as “candid discussion on war journalism by three of its most admired practitioners”, I had never heard of the other two particpants, Ben Anderson and Giles Duley. To my shame! There was only sparse info on the Festival website, but the main attraction for booking the event was hearing Don McCullin speak twice. At € 10 a no-brainer, considering that we were over there in Borris, anyway.

The Venue in Borris, Co. Carlow. Incidentally I snapped Duley and Anderson in the foreground of the iPhone image – before I knew who they were…

The talk with McCullin had been great, but in retrospect we had heard nothing that we hadn’t already seen in the eponymous documentary. Interestingly, but maybe not surprisingly then, the talk with Duley and Anderson turned out to be the highlight of the day. We were in the presence of three impressive, remarkable men. – Duley set the tone of the event right at the beginning. The talk was taking place in the private chapel of Borris House, where the panel sat behind the altar rails at the front. Duley had been setting up a slideshow of photographs at the front, facing the audience as he was clicking on his laptop. Clutching his beer glass, he turned around and took the right-most seat and deposited his pint next to his chair to his left. As the discussion had just started, he suddenly broke out in loud laughter, leaned over to Anderson who was sitting in the middle and whispered something to him. Anderson got up and moved Duley’s beer glass from his left to his right. “I haven’t got a hand on that side!”, Duley cheerfully informed the audience and chuckled again.

As I had not done my homework – again! – and researched the participants prior to the talk, it only occurred to me then that Duley was missing an arm. But from this episode it was already clear that this man was not in any way broken, despite a broken body. Duley duly took the lead in the discussion, launching it by explaining his own path into photography – a path that was actually inspired by discovering McCullin’s work at age 18. He became a photographer and specialised in music and fashion photography. Burnt out after a few years, he completely stopped, not seeing any value in his work. He abandoned his career as a photographer and stopped photographing entirely. Instead, he became a careworker, intensely looking after a single client. Gradually, it occurred to him that he wanted to tell the story of his client through photography. Motivated by compassion, this launched an interest in telling the unheard stories of those without a voice. He started covering the stories of conflict victims and humanitarian issues and shot in places like the Sudan, culminating with a project in Afghanistan where he wanted to show the impact of conflict on all victims of war, including soldiers. While embedded with the US Army in Afghanistan, Duley stepped on a landmine, losing three limbs – and almost his life. He became the story. And he became a victim. But not really a victim – the audience could clearly see his unbroken spirit, positive attitude, courage and will.

Anderson’s track record is equally impressive. An investigative journalist, Anderson has been covering conflict for the last ten years. He has filmed a number of in-depth documentaries in conflict zones such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba. In 2007 he was embedded with the British Army in Afghanistan, later he followed the US Marines on their battle for Marjah which resulted in an insightful documentary of the same name. His most recent work is the deeply disturbing documentary “This is what winning looks like”, which again took him back to Afghanistan, covering the preparations for the take-over of the Afghan security services after the international troops leave the country in 2014. (Urging all readers to watch this film online on The documentary will have you shake your head in disbelief, disgust and horror!)

It was clear from the introductions and the following discussion that neither of these men are in their dangerous business for fame and fortune. They appear to be deeply compassionate people who have an urge to tell stories, to document, to give a voice to the victims of conflict and to speak the truth. They embodied that in the way they appeared on the panel and spoke candidly of their experiences and their work. It was clear that you can and must believe them and trust them.

McCullin stayed at the side-lines in this discussion, allowing the two younger men to explain their perspectives and to talk about the challenges of their work. What shocked me most was that both spoke of their difficulty of getting funding for their work. They are both free-lancers. There is no media corporation in the background to pay and pamper them. Their way of working is the way all free-lancers work: You work first, and get paid later. With an outlay of time and money, they have great difficulty getting their work published. Noone wants to see this??? Where has the world come to? A dumbed-down celebrity culture?

That was McCullin’s description of our contemporary world. When directly asked for advice on the future career paths of Duley and Anderson, McCullin emphatically discouraged them from continuing with conflict coverage. “It is not worth the high price that you pay, personally!” His view is, of course, shaped by his own experiences. It is a retrospective view and an honest answer. Somehow, though, I disapprove of his honesty here. The world needs courageous people like Anderson and Duley, to push our noses in the mess that we have created on this planet. Even if McCullin’s experience tells him otherwise, the public still has to be able to see reality, if we so wish. Not all the world is disinterested. And maybe we, as the public, should make that clear by supporting the work of documentary makers such as Anderson and Duley by buying their books and by pushing for publishing. Buying their work would also help fund their future projects. (See links to books at the bottom of the text.)

Anderson and Duley, thankfully, expressed in clear terms that they will not cease their pursuit of truth. They clearly held their “elder” in respect and awe, but their own convictions clearly shone through their contribution to this panel discussion. Both spoke eloquently and awarely of the challenges and ethical dilemma of their work – documenting the essence of human suffering by shoving a lens into the victims’ faces. They appear to be very conscious of the dangers of their professions (well, obviously) and the exploitative nature of photographic/cinematographic documentation. They are a generation after McCullin whose (provocatively emphasised?) outdated views occasionally drew a hiss from the audience – such as his slightly chauvinist remark, that he could not understand why women would cover conflict as reporters, photographers or filmmakers. – But then again, what do we know? We have seen nothing yet, while he has been there.

The discussion, although light in tone, was one of the most impressive talks I have ever attended. The personalities of the three speakers held everyone in thrall, as they spoke openly and honestly about their experiences, the media, their respective areas of media, their view of their work and the state of conflict zones in general. There was no bravado and no non-chalance in the face of war. All three, McCullin, Anderson, and Duley, came across as honest, deeply humanitarian individuals. Frankly, with people like this in the world, we can rest assured that the stories of the victims will be heard. That does not absolve us from our own responsibilities, and we should be conscious of the fact that they are paying a high personal price for the pursuit of truth. The least we can do, is spread their message by talking about their work and by supporting them through buying their books or pushing locally for opportunities of showing their projects.

Ben Anderson: No Worse Enemy

Giles Duley: Afghanistan 2012

Don McCullin: Unreasonable Behaviour: An Autobiography

Copyright Rant

Those of you who follow this blog from my personal FB my recognise the quote that I am about to post in 2picsaweek today.

“I personally think giving credit is the right thing to do. However, I have an issue with people who put their watermarks in obtrusive places.”

The issue of “giving credit” set off a bit of a rant for me. I have to explain that the statement in the quote was made in context of non-photography related blogging, and my now following rant was a direct reaction to the fact that countless bloggers were re-posting images from which they had painstakingly removed the prominently placed watermarks. I am aware that I am preaching to the converted here on this platform – most of my readers are probably involved in or at least sensitised towards issues of photography, anyway. You are about to read a plea for respecting copyright and for the reasons why it is not just a matter of fairness to credit and pay for the use of images. If only one new reader finds something new in this, I am vindicated in having climbed onto my soapbox.

Watermarks of a different kind

Those of you who are familiar with this blog may have noticed that I only ever use my own images as illustration for my posts. The reason for that is not me being overly confident of my work or using 2picsaweek as an exclusive platform for showing my own stuff. It is merely a reaction to copyright rules that force me to do so. Occasionally, that becomes awkward in the context of 2picsaweek, for instance, when I am reviewing an exhibition and I illustrate the post with a picture of my own, and not from the show in question. For me, that is the easiest way of avoiding copyright issues – although, I could probably get permission from the exhibition organisers in question to re-post an image – after all, it appears in promo material on other sites and publications, too. Strictly speaking, however, I may not use someone else’s image in any public forum without prior permission of the copyright holder. Legal particularities vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in general a photograph belongs to the creator for ever and may not be republished without permission. That does not mean that you always have to pay for the use of an image, but considering that photographers make their money with images, using a photograph without permission is equal to theft.

This is the case in particular when looking at the work of press photographers. They tend to be freelancers who only make money if they not only *get* the shot but also *get it out* fast. However glamourous this profession may seem to you – seeing celebrities up close, attending media events, getting free entry into openings etc. – it is a very hard job, both physically and mentally, in a very competitive market. You have to be a fast worker with enough instinct to know where to catch the celebs. You need to be well-connected to be at the important events. You have to be technically more than proficient to produce relevant images under pressure, in confined space, within a short time-span. You have to have use of the appropriate equipment for making the picture and for sending it on asap. You also have to have the ability to engage with your subjects so that *they* engage with your camera. This is a highly-skilled, fast-paced, multi-tasking job. And it does not pay particularly well. You’ve got to love what you do in order to endure the waiting, the late nights, the scrum in the press pit, the rejection, the uncertainty of your monthly income.

All too often I hear people saying things along the lines of “ah sure, they are just pressing a button, *anyone* could do that”. Wrong. There is much more to press photography than simply releasing the shutter. And the fact that occasionally an amateur gets lucky with a coincidentally snapped image that makes the front pages is merely an exception that proves the rule. In order to *consistently* produce useable press images you need much more than fluke (see above). The industry is notoriously secretive about its prices. They generally depend on which size of image you need and what the circulation of your publication is. But consider the expenses that the photographer has for making that image:

  • Photography is an equipment-based profession. To produce images that reach industry-standard requirements, photographers have to invest in cameras that cost from € 3500/$ 4000 *upwards*! And this is not a once-off but a regularly recurring expense as the camera hardware needs to be updated on a regular basis!
  • Camera accessories are effing expensive but indispensable: A camera flash will set you back from € 500/$ 550 upwards. Studio equipment is even more expensive. You need strobes, reflectors, softboxes, shades, tripods, stands, backdrops…
  • You have to invest in insurance to keep your working tools safe and to protect yourself from damages you may incur while on your job. This will cost you several hundred Dollars/Euro per year.
  • Stationary hardware: Part of the photographic package is the production of a carefully edited and post-produced final image of a shoot. You have to have the appropriate computer hardware (exclusive Apple Mac being the machine of choice in the graphic professions;  starting from € 1000/$1300) and software (Adobe Photoshop – full version costs in the region of €700/$800). Security software and storage facilities (whether in-cloud or hardware-based) also add to the cost.
  • Transport cost: Particularly as a press photographer you are travelling to “where it’s at”. This could be just a walk down the block – but it might be a plane-ride away.
  • And all that before we talk about the educational investment in photography. A degree in photography will set you back from €15.000/$18.000 for tuition. The experience gleaned in the field is not quantifiable but certainly should also be remunerable. As is the actual time that a photographer spends on the assignment – after all, you would also pay a plumber by the hour…

Do you see how it all adds up? You have to sell many, many pictures at €50 each in order to make ends meet at the end of the month… And it applies just as much to portrait photographers, stock photographers, or fine art photographers. All of them have made the above investments in their work. To not acknowledge that is to cheat them. Thus, I am advocating the fair use of photography in digital media. A photograph is the product of an individual’s hard labour. You may use it for your own enjoyment for free, after all it is visible online or in a magazine, but if you are using it to make money with it, you need permission to use it, and you should pay for it.

Having said all that – by and large the photographs that I see posted on blogs every day are not used to make money. They are used for the entertainment of the readers, or for illustration purposes. It can be argued that they will spread the photographer’s name. But that is only the case if the photographer is credited. So wherever possible, as an act of fairness, credit should be given to the creator of any image. I am not advocating that that is *all* you need to do. Asking for permission should be the starting point. And considering to pay for the use of an image should be considered standard practice. But crediting is the least we can do to acknowledge the hard work and the monetary investment that has been put into images.

Rant over.

To Compete or Not to Compete

What is your stance on photography competitions? I have just sent off one of my projects to a competition. No, not an open call for submission to an exhibition, but a competition where you can win something, apart from exposure. I thought long and hard about it. Was it worth it? After all, there was a hefty entrance fee. For me, that is usually the big turn-off. Charging for a competition to me reeks of a money-making exercise with little benefit to the participants. Or is there?

Probably the biggest benefit of all competitions is the fact that they motivate you to get off your arse and *do* something. That was certainly the case for me. It is now nearly a year since I finished college, and I have not worked on any project consistently since then – apart from the higgledy-piggledy commercial jobs that I have done here and there. There are ideas floating around in my brain for various projects, but without a tangible goal in mind – such as an exhibition submission, or a college deadline, for that matter – I have been slow on converting the ideas into practice. Paying for competition entry or not – submitting to a competition at least made me rake through my previous work to identify worthy projects. Having just sent my submission off, I feel a slight buzz of energy. All is possible – maybe I could be the winner? Participating in a competition fills you with hope and motivation. And is gratifying in itself as you have at least accomplished fulfilling the competition criteria and submitting your work. You have made the conscious decision to get your work “out there”. That’s one step better than just shooting and then leaving your images on your hard drive.
Which brings me to benefit number 2: That is the beauty of a competition, anyway – you are often allowed to draw from older work that has been created within a given time-frame. And thus you do not need to produce something new and original, but can submit from your archive. There is no excuse *not* to take part, I guess.
Are these intangible benefits worth a € 60 entry fee? Depends on whether you are an eternal optimist like myself, or not. But even then I am not so foolish to submit my stuff to any old competition. I *do* take a look at the competition before I decide to enter. The cost seems to be the main concern. In general, I would not pay more than € 20 for a single entry. With limited funds at my disposal, I have to choose wisely. Apart from cost, there are other determining factors

I doubt that you can get rich with competition victories. But I do think it makes sense to have a look at what you *might* win, if your photography convinces the judges. After all, what use is it to be considered the winner – and then receive a piece of equipment that you already own? Likewise, it is a good idea to check how many prizes there are in relation to the pull of the competition. If a popular contest draws in thousands of submissions but there is only one prize on offer – the already-slim chances are even slimmer. Also check whether there is at least some sort of exhibition/publication part of the prize. A bit of exposure is the least you would want to expect when winning or running up in a competition.

It is also useful to check the requirements first. How much work is involved in getting your images into the format that the competition organisers want to see? A simple resize or a conversion from raw to jpg is just a matter of seconds, but anything beyond that may not be worth your while.

Lastly – the judges
There are a great many competitions out there. I tend to go for the ones that are either organised by institutions that are involved in photography or art in some shape or form – with them you have an idea what the expectations are. You can check what kind of photography they have awarded with prizes previously, you can see the style that they prefer. Check the names on the judging panel. I trust those competitions that have managed to attract judges from the industry – they will know what they are looking at and can tell the fluke from the carefully planned project. In a slight show of arrogance I will admit that I would prefer to be judged a winner by a renowned photographer than by the CEO of the sponsoring coffee emporium – but hey, that is me being a total snob.

As regards  my own submission to the competition today – I followed my own advice (…): there are a good few valuable prizes, an exhibition, and a distinguished judging panel from the industry. What’s more, part of the competition entry funds a charity. Even though I will most probably not be successful with my submission, at least I can rest easy – I have done some good while fulfilling my fantasy.

Boutique Photography

Fresh back from a little shoot. Thank Cod for my friends who keep me busy with “jobs” – and who help me when I encounter problems. The job came courtesy of my friend M___ of Locks and Lashes who needed some of her make-up work documented for her portfolio. I jumped at the chance and offered my services. After all, I need the practice and the fun of photography. Or should I say “challenge”? Because shooting on location is never straight-forward. Especially when you know you will be shooting in a petite shop – or is the correct term for that actually “boutique”? Never has a job sounded so fancy and yet so adequate…

So location work. In a shop full of colourful items, choc-a-bloc with distracting and space absorbing articles. Now imagine not only a fat-arsed photographer in that, holding a massive camera, but also a set of lights avec soft box, not to mention the model. Yeah. Tricky. But this is where my friend K___ comes in, who is my saviour when it comes to equipment and who jumped into the breach, presenting me with what basically amounts to a portable studio. K___ lent me a collapsible soft box that folded down to a black bag the size of a yummy layer cake which came with a contraption that you could mount on an equally collapsible stand and which was operated with a speedlite. Thank the gods of photography for my Yamaguchi no-name flash! At least I had that on my own. But add to that two triggers from K___’s stash, and I was good to go.

Good thing I practiced at home first. (One of the lessons of photography that I have learnt through bitter experience – never use unknown equipment without trying before. Let’s draw the veil of silence over the fact that I nearly crashed at the first hurdle – inserting the batteries the wrong way ’round… *duh* Took me aaaaages to work that one out. I was already on the phone to Yamaguchi, complaining about their “500 ways of wonderful”…) But after that it was a cinch. Even in the confined space of the shop, I was able to set up my make-shift studio in a corner of the premises. With a few test shots under my belt with a massive stuffed cheetah as stand-in, the lighting was sussed and the scene was set. The challenge – as anticipated – proved to be the background. With clothes horses full of vintage costumes and a wild array of furniture and bric-a-brac lining every surface and wall space of the shop, I had to commandeer a portable screen from the furniture corner as a backdrop. With my models sat in front of that, I was finally able to shoot the ladies and their 1940s style. Mind you, I had to hunch down underneath the soft box-beauty light – my thighs were killing me with the strain and it is a miracle that the shots did not suffer from camera shake, so wobbly did I crouch and slouch.

Locks and Lashes (107 of 124)

Styling/Make-up: Locks and Lashes

Amazing what a little portable studio can do. I will put it to the test again tomorrow on a sweet little shoot. Meanwhile, I’d be obliged if anyone could recommend me some thigh-strengthening exercises. Ouch.

Back in Black

So, 2picsaweek is back after a four month hiatus. The reasons for the break in blogging were mani-fold: First of all I had technical difficulties. After two years of blogging, the domain finally ran out in early November 2012. Unfortunately I was not only unable to renew the domain, for administrative reasons I also could not remove the automatic URL forwarding from my blogger home to the (now un-)paid domain. I was stuck in a black hole, so to speak, unable to rescue my pure and sweet blog from the association with dodgy picture sites the links to which were loudly advertised on the domain parking website that showed up on my regular URL. Hmph.

Murky reasons for absence… but hey, I am back in black (and white)

Secondly, in November I was still at the end of my graduation-induced photography-aversion. I hadn’t quite come to terms with the end of my degree, with the end of three years of almost-daily meetings with my fellow students who had long become firm and close friends of mine. In hindsight, I think I was grieving for the end of a great period of time in my life. And the forced hiatus was almost welcome to me, as it meant I had no pressure of coming up with any photo-related posts and could ignore my painful photography-indifference.

Coinciding with that, however, was a development in my private blogging life that meant that I was actually thinking and writing about photography more than ever. It wasn’t my own photography, though, that I was writing about, but the portrait photography of other photographers that I started analysing for a private project of mine week-by-week. Gratifyingly, my work there has not only met a lot of interest but led to interesting discussions about details of my analyses – and the subjects of my analyses – so as to make me forget that I had another photoblog that I used to love writing…

With the new year came new resolutions. And even if it is now two months in, I still hold fast to the resolution of continuing with 2picsaweek. My portrait blogging activities have shown me that I still love photography. I may even love writing about photography more than producing photography *shock* and that is an interesting development in its own right. Especially when considering that I am toying with the idea of an MA in Photography – or Photo Theory? Maybe my strengths lie in the combination of both – writing and photography. So I resolved to resolve the barren status of 2picsaweek. As the domain name situation remains unchanged, but the name of my blog is kind-of established, the best option seemed to be moving the entire blog to a new platform. And so I am now based on WordPress – which allows me to continue to blog under the title of 2picsaweek – only with a new suffix:

I can live with that – and with the slight design changes. Unfortunately WordPress is not as easily customizable as Blogger, and so I had to abandon my beloved typewriter font and minimalist design that is directly related to my website design. The general gist and look of will remain the same, though: two pictures (of mine) a week, with an assortment of ideas, critiques, tech garblings and private warblings on the side. I look forward to 2013 and hope I haven’t lost all of my two-and-a-half readers in the process of waiting, breaking and resurrecting. Keep shooting, guys, Sonja shoots back.

Musings on Flickr

Anybody use flickr? I do. Frequently. But at this stage it has merely become an online photoalbum where I host the pictures which I later link into my blogposts. How mundane, when it all started so romantically…

I discovered flickr in early 2006 through two friends and immediately got hooked. Initially, I started out on the free flickr, but reached my limit after about a week. The Pro Account was the only solution, and certainly boosted my ego with its association of “serious photo buff”. Ha! *huffs* Seriously, though, I think, if it hadn’t been for flickr, I would not be where I am now with photography. When I started out, I was using a non-digital SLR (Canon eos) and an old, simple Olympus digital C-150. I had my SLR-photos on disc and so was able to load some stuff up. The response I had was so unexpected and good, that flickr had me enthralled. I had not expected to receive comments so quickly – well, I didn’t know how flickr worked, I suppose – and it became a major motivation to take photos which others would find worthy for comment. I believe that flickr is another case in point that the internet can be far from anonymous and individualistic as there is an awful lot of interaction possible.
On a more personal level, flickr turned out to be hugely inspiring for my photography. Or rather – the people on flickr and their photographic endeavours became an inspiration. I saw interesting things images there every day which spurned me on to be creative, too. It made me realize that I CAN be creative at the push of a button – literally.
My passion for photography blossomed. I booked myself into a photography course with a good friend, I started buying accessories… Oh, and most importantly, I got myself a digital SLR *grins*. Nothing else would do, so back then I bought a Canon eos 350d which I loved dearly.
Six years down the road flickr has lost its lustre. What impressed me back then is not quite so awe inspiring anymore since I have learnt how to take interesting and technically acceptable photos myself. Moreover, it quickly became clear to me that the number of comments, views and favorites is not necessarily an indication of truly good photography – but merely a sign that the photographer is good at using social media. I have given up the hunt for comments and favorites. It is more important for me now to finish a project to my own expectations and standards than to produce yet another golden sunset which attracts 500 pink stars. How arrogant of me. That’s what a college education does to you – too posh to push (the shutter release).
– Posted on Tour, using BlogPress from my iPhone

Baby Steps

No, I am not talking about baby photography. Not really my cup of tea, although I have done some of it for practice and for friends. The baby steps in the blog title refer to my journey back into photography’s arms. Yes, it’s another self-referential blog post – so shut up or get out now 😉
Still here? Ok. You’ll be pleased to hear that I have decided to stop wallowing and finally get my arse into gear. If the heart isn’t in it, the mind has to push. And so I chose to bring marky Mark out from his coffin and against better worse judgment took him out at the weekend. We were off to a family event, but had a couple of hours to spare which we spent at a favourite holiday haunt of ours, just over the Wicklow-Wexford border.
Grumblingly I lugged marky Mark in my Crumbler bag from the car. Le BF set off on his own, obviously not in the mood for yet another moody walk with the “Disenchanted Photographer”. First I managed to get my trainers soaked in the mud and my mood sank down below sea level. And then I looked up and saw what was around me. And for a split second that old impulse was there, the automatic reach for the camera. To document and to archive the moment. 
What clinched it, however, was the “Episode of the Moving Rock”. Having caught up with the uncooperative BF, we were staring at a grey rock about 30 meters away from us in the water. Rather depressing really. And I thought I had definitely lost it, when the rock started moving. I mean, you kinda have heard of “artists” losing their mind over their art á la van Gogh or Francis Bacon. But I didn’t really expect to lose the plot this early on. A little more suffering, please, before the creativity is replenished. Alas – it wasn’t just me who saw moving rocks. The camera saw it, too:
And thus the first little step has been taken. I have touched him. I have even imported the images. Who knows – maybe I will be able to think of a project next week? In the mean time – if anyone has a happy pill, I’ll take that, too!


I have talked about it a lot. I have thought about it non-stop. The inner monologue never stops. I can hardly believe that this is me. At this point in time. All creative urge has been washed away by a massive riptide of disinterestedness. A barren state of inactivity. A sensation of utter helplessness in the face of disconnectedness. And nothing that you can actually fight with your mind’s own rationality. Like depression really.
Nausea sweeps over me even when I just *contemplate* taking marky Mark from his coffin. Apart from holiday snapping, I do not see myself handling a camera in the near future.
It’s not even that I do not like photography anymore. I still love looking at images and enjoy critiqueing them. In fact I am critiqueing more than ever before – but strictly incognito and in an altogether different context which has got little to with photography.

Don’t try to argue with me that the above constitutes photography. These days I merely fingertip release the shutter of my iPhone and choose a digital gimmick filter from Instagram. It could be the drop that tides me over, though, as could be the three photo books I picked up in a second-hand bookstore today. At € 2.00 each I give this a shot for inspiration. Blumenfeld for his wide range of early photographiy experimentation. Seymore for powerful documentary. McCartney for sun printing recipes. Now where do you buy silver nitrate these days?
Posted on Tour, using BlogPress from my iPhone

Block Island

Is there such a thing as photographer’s block? 
Judging from my own current total disinterest in photography there must be. It is tragic, really. Here I am, just finished three years of total photo immersion. And I hate the thought of touching marky Mark. I have actually been contemplating putting him onto the market and selling him off. 
It is probably just that point where you have reached a goal that you have worked for for a long time. And now that you are there, you don’t know how to proceed. A bit like reaching the summit after a long, arduous climb. And then heaving feet of lead that will not take you down to the valley again.
Spitzkoppe, Namibia
The only photography-related thing that gives me any joy these days is looking at images and writing elaborate critiques of them. I suspect that is not due to the magnificent photography, but rather the sitter who features in all of them. Plus, I get feedback for what I write from other fangrrls enthusiasts – which works as an incentive to go on.
In my current self-pitying state there is nothing but to wait and sit it out. My hopes are all on my holidays which are coming up soon. Maybe being in a foreign place will make me peer through the viewfinder again?
Meanwhile, morose greetings from Block Island.