I was lucky enough to be invited to join a group of fellow photographers on a trip up to the Lake District a couple of weeks ago. To be honest I think we cracked it weatherwise, as I write this three weekends later its now snowing there on the tops and people are reporting that half the leaves have gone from the trees.
I love “doing” photography. Of late, however, I have been taxing myself on the issue of creativity.
- “Am I being creative in what I do?
- “This is just another straight landscape?”
- “Is this a cliché?”
- “What are my motives in taking this photograph?”
- “Why am I here?” – joke!
All interesting points to consider.
Autumn in the Lake District, aside from an autumnal Padley Gorge, may be one of the ultimate British landscape clichés. But what of it? I shot 11 rolls of 120 film when I was away (Portra 400, Provia 100 and some Ilford FP4), some may well be clichés – indeed I did have a “guilty pleasure moment” when I took a photograph of a boat house on Rydal Water. I may have shown my hand too soon by using the word “pleasure”.
I had pleasure/fun taking this picture – yes its a cheeky cliché, but its my take on it with the boat house framed on the left hand side by the tree and at the bottom by the reeds and tree debris. The thing for me is that I enjoyed taking that picture, I enjoyed the company that I was with, I enjoy the composition of it and at the end of the day creative or not no one is going to take that moment away from me.
There is, I feel, some pressure nowadays to “be creative” in everything that we do, whether that’s to be different or have some sort of deeper implied meaning in what we do. What about actually just taking some enjoyment in what we do? As an aside, why does taking something with my pinhole camera, or doing an image in Black and White make it more worthy and/or creative? Is that because you view the image in its simplest form with colour removed from it (answers on a postcard to the usual address)?
So where is this unstructured rambling going? Not too sure myself, but I will press on.
Do you need to have a deeper motive in a single image landscape other than that of wanting to capture faithfully a scene that moved you in the first place to take the picture? I don’t think so. A series, where there is a theme running through the images, say of decay, dilapidation etc, as a series shows a progress and intent to show something that bit “more” than what a single image can ever do on its own. A series/project is a great thing, but not everything in life can be given over to a series, sometimes a single image of a great view (large or intimate) will just have to do and there is nothing wrong with that.
So there you go, I’m not sure if this is progress or not, but I’ve stopped examining my belly button for the moment and I’m going to press on with MY photography and its meandering scatter gun style. I’m going to carry on taking photographs that give me pleasure – its my recreation after all – I’m not a pro. I’m going to take pictures of scenes, big or small, that give me that “Oh wow!” moment. I’m going to look at the pictures of others that do that for me too. I’m not going to question their intent and motives – if it gives me pleasure to look at their images and I feel physically moved by what they’ve done then as a simple soul my box is ticked.
I’m on a roll (bear with me). In my four days up in the Lakes I also appreciated, that you don’t need to go on expensive workshops that promise everything and deliver little to develop yourself. You need a smattering of people of various skills and outlooks, some maps, some accommodation, a bit of prior local knowledge and lots of bonhomie. I felt, photographically, that I moved on in leaps in bounds in those four days, more so than I have at any other time prior to that. Inspiration and confidence aren’t always to be found on a workshop.