Don’t forget to look!

· 15.May.2020

I’ve just returned from my daily exercise, essential for our wellbeing at the best of times, however, we’re in a period far from the best of times at the moment!  I’m very lucky to live a 5 minute walk from open fields and 10 minutes from woodland.  I cannot even begin to imagine how i would feel living somewhere, with no outside space available.

As I walked this morning i heard the birds singing above anything else.  The sound of the Skylark was beautiful, with no background noise spoiling the treat.

This started me to think what brought me to photography! Can you remember what actually brought you to the fascination and enjoyment of photography in the first place?  For me it was photography club at my junior school, which lead my parents to buy me my first SLR, an Olympus OM10.  I loved that camera, and in fact I still have it.

Today’s world is one of constant fast paced activities, that occupy our thoughts and mind. As a photographer the relentless bombardment of images, means it’s very difficult to capture anything that has not already been taken. However, have we lost the ability to look?  

The images we see on a daily basis, often give a view of a of an ideal photograph, rooted in a classic location, with almost mystical conditions, that render perfect tones and provide a narrative to the viewer.

But how many of us have the opportunity, to seek out the locations of our dreams on a regular basis?  The answer is more than likely, not many of us. But do we always need to travel to far flung locations?  In so many ways what is on our doorsteps offer possibilities to capture beautiful, thought provoking images that we can be proud of.

And so to the theme, “Don’t forget to Look”.

Our local knowledge of the geography we live and breath everyday, means we have built up an intimate understanding of that one tree we pass on the way to work, that at the right time has the early morning sun glinting through the canopy, dappled light diffused by the leaves and the autumnal mist. Or maybe it’s the shifting sands that constantly alter a seascape through the passing of time and tide.

The key requirement that any of these locations need is the opportunity to be seen, and this can only be done if we give ourselves the time to Look.

Are we too obsessed with looking beyond what is on our immediate horizon?

So it’s understandable, and actually essential that we get out on those perfect mornings to capture an image that we have long envisioned in our minds. However, just sometimes we ought to go out and enjoy the beautiful world in front of us wherever we live. Just see what is there instead of obsessing over locations, compositions and techniques!

The place on my doorstep has a mixture of terrain, ranging from grassland scrub, heathland, forest and wetlands. The mix of flora and fauna is abundant. Iceland moss is present, along with beautiful heather and silver birch. Snipe are a common sight, along with nuthatches, treecreepers and barn owls, as well as many more varieties. April brings with it the call of the cuckoo also. The murderous haunting sound of the muntjac deer first thing in the morning, sends a chill down your spine, and the shape of roe deers disappearing into the woodland is a special sight.

All of this is a sight to behold, and the benefit of going to a location over and over is that you start to see all it has to offer, at different times of the year and different times of the day. From a photographic stand point, it has allowed me to go back and capture images at just the right time, when the light was just right. Because the location is on my doorstep the opportunity is always there.

When we allow ourselves to once again use our ability to see what is around us, then maybe we can re-ignite the passion and connect with what attracted us to photography in the first place. The love of capturing an image, no matter what the genre, that speaks to us about a moment in time. Once we achieve this, we have again found our photographic Nirvana!

So over the coming weeks, and whatever it may bring to us, take what opportunities present themselves to you, in these difficult times. Look at what’s around you, and I’m confident that we can all find interesting aspects to enjoy and maybe even capture an image of.

Stay safe!