Monday, August 29, 2016

Photograph like no one's watching

published in the Chronicle Herald (The Nova Scotian section) - August 29, 2016
Im sure weve all seen the wall art - "sing like no ones listening" and "dance like no ones watching". 
The truth is, we all start out that way but somehow we lose that as we age and as time goes on some of us become more inhibited than when we started.
A two year old will hear some music and immediately start to dance, and everyone watching thinks it cute and laughs. We clap along, and we share the joy. Its infectious.

If an adult hears music and starts to dance, usually the reaction isnt the same. People seem embarrassed, or think theres a screw loose somewhere.

Sometime along the path of life we are discouraged from public displays of joy and happiness. Maybe its an adult telling us to behave, maybe its the school system that regiments us away from being individuals, or maybe its because a peer makes fun of us.
In public school, I used to love singing. I looked forward to our music classes and always raised my hand to suggest a song to sing. Then we had a class exercise where each student had to sing a note and the other students got to vote on who had to try again. I was the only kid in the class who had to sing my note over again because I was judged not good enough. A year or so later, the school choir conductor told me I should just mouth the words instead of singing them. Then in high school, a friend told me that everyone else in the class used to laugh at the way I sang. Ouch. Its difficult not to feel inhibited after all that. Now my husband is the only one who hears me sing. He keeps telling me hes a lucky guy.
If you have had children and have gone through the teenage years, I think youll agree with me that parents dont even need to work at embarrassing their kids. It comes naturally. Many years ago, I was in a video store with my son. (I think most readers of this column will remember what a video store is). A song from my own teenage years came over the stores speaker system so I started to dance. Not a big performance. Just a little happy dance. And just enough for my teenage son to wish the floor would open up and swallow him whole. I heard the long drawn out "Mo-o-o-m" complete with a groan and slouching shuffle as far away from me as he could go and still get a lift home in the car.
So. What has all this got to do with photography? Well, lots of photographers can go through these phases too. The first time we get a camera, or start taking photos with our phones, we are happy with the pictures we take. Were excited about the results we achieve and we love to share our experiences.

If our love of photography develops into a more serious pass time, we might take a course or join a club. Then we learn the "rules" of photography. We might stop taking photos because its the wrong time of day for the best light, or we think no one else is interested in the same subject matter as us, or were just tired of going to the same locations all the time. The introduction of rules might constrict our free flowing creativity if we become slaves to them. We may lose that sense of joy and wonder that we had when we became interested in the hobby in the first place.

I hit that wall a couple of years ago and lost the feeling that photography used to give me. I wasnt interested in taking photographs and I stopped carrying my camera when we went daytripping and when we got together with family. Then a quick visit with some friends kick started my creative juices again. We dropped by to pick up home grown garlic, and we were shown some decorative gourds. Those gourds mesmerized me. They looked like long necked birds to me and I started visualizing them as a family. We took home three gourds with our garlic and I immediately set up my camera for a photo shoot.
Who would have thought that three little vegetables would get me back on track with my photography? I posted the photos on facebook, and Im sure everyone wondered a little about me. I know my husband did, but after twenty five years together hes used to that. 
Now, Im not suggesting that everyone who gets in a rut should run out and find themselves some gourds. But I am recommending that you follow your instincts. If something interests you, go for it. Forget about the rules of convention. Find something that sparks your interest and take a leap of faith. 
Dance like no ones watching. Sing like no ones listening. And choose your own thing to focus on.

1 comment:

It's great to hear from you! I appreciate your comments.