May 10

‘There’s nothing new under the sun”

Chasing The New

For us creatives there can be a temptation to forever chase the new, to seek out that which no one has done before and eschew anything that may appear dated, cliched or ‘done to death’. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve turned by back on a gorgeous, yet often photographed event or location.

“Yeah I know it’s going to be a gorgeous sunset but I’ve seen it all before. There’s nothing original in that.” “The jetty on Derwent Water? Nothing new there!” Have you ever followed your thoughts down a similar rabbit hole, creating endless reasons why it’s not worth even trying?

The Holy Grail of Originality

Originality can appear to be the holy grail of us photographers as we hope for that approach, that process or light that will be quite unique to us. There’s a real aversion to standing in other peoples tripod holes!

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if no one had ever photographed anything before, that any images you create are new to the world and have the freshness of a spring morning in a bluebell wood. What would it be like if you were the only one able to see and photograph everything you ever see. If you totally owned it! Recently I’ve realised that this is precisely how it is if we adopt a slightly different approach to our creative seekings.

As I sit in the bluebell wood this morning, knowing full well that Facebook is bristling with millions of shots of sun-dappled similars, I am realising that no one is seeing their bluebell wood through my eyes, with my imagination and my ‘in the moment’ experiences. I’ve just read a piece of work by Goethe and wrote a few lines as a response. Two dappled wood butterflies are jousting in a clearing and a timid roe deer has spent thirty minutes tentatively circumnavigating me through the beech saplings. Alongside me a squirrel has realised she’s not alone and is flicking her tail like there’s no tomorrow.

All of these beautiful happenings are subtly colouring my view this morning and giving me a unique experience at this time, 8am on a sunny May morning. Any photography I take with my little Olympus Pen may not have the hallmarks of a world class original but they will be authentically mine. Every pixel will have been serenaded by the garden warbler singing over my shoulder and imbued with the deep sense of contentment that soars within me.

Original or Authentic?

Understanding that the images we take are as much a reflection of our inner landscape and processes as they are a distillation of the outer world and the interaction between the two, we can totally own it as uniquely ours. If we look with open minds, and hearts, we can see that our world truly is own own. It never has been and never will be anyone else’s. Perhaps it’s time to turn our backs on the search for that elusive original and explore the images that authenticity brings. To see everything anew, even when our tripod is sinking into holes left earlier.

All we need to do is listen to our inner dialogue as we deepen into the experiences before us, or to look behind the obvious and hear what our subject is saying to us on a personal level.

Once we begin to sense and interpret the message we want to share through our vision and to develop a reciprocal relationship with what is in front of our camera the whole world becomes our canvas, washed clean and renewed ready for our now personal vision.

About the author 


Jason has been a photographer all of his life and successfully carved out a career as a professional editorial photographer and writer working with a wide range of publishers in the UK and beyond.
He spends much of his creative time working on personal projects and helping other creative photographers get more from their calling.

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  1. Your words hit the spot as always Jason, you are and always will be an inspiration for my view on the world through my lens. I realise I need to redress some of my photographic ramblings as much as I enjoy the comfort and ease of them I appreciate that by tweaking here and there even more can be achieved.

    1. Thank you for your comment Anne. Your work is already very insightful and inspiring, recognising how we can go even further is a good stimulus for our creative growth. Keep up your great work. 🙂

  2. Oh, sadly I wrote a long reply / comment here earlier on Jason but when I posted it it said Blocked…..??
    Anyway, really resonated with me ….so looking forward to the course, which I know is going to help me…..quote Rumi……”be the soul of that place” . ?

    1. I’m sorry you reply was blocked. I’ve no idea why that was and it’s totally out of my control. 🙁
      Glad it resonated though, and yes, the course is going to be really useful I’m sure. Loving the Rumi quote too. He knew some good stuff!

  3. My obstacle is that everyone else has done it before and better than I could . I need to confidence to stand by the worth of my own interpretation

    1. Hi Margaret. This comes with practice, and a knowledge of the tools so we have confidence in our skills. Once we have mastered the basic core tools then it’s easier to translate our interpretation into an image. And then to stand by our own vision, knowing it’s the one that truly matters.

  4. This hit the spot! One of my big blocks is the feeling of everything has been done before. If I can overcome this and push through then sometimes I can find my own way of seeing. It just seems to take a lot of energy and the right frame of mind.

    1. Glad it did Philip. It’s finding our own way that matters and, for me, that usually means spending quite a while with my subject before I even get my camera out.

  5. All of your words Jason are a sense of those which flash through my subconscious mind in the time it takes for me to see, and click the shutter.
    And how, all to often, on veiwing, though the composition my feel right, the sense of that moment isn’t quite there.

    1. That can be an enduring issue Dor, one that I seek to address fully in my Creativity Beyond the Camera course. It’s about knowing our message, being able to capture the moment and then telling the story visually as we send the image out to sail in the world.

  6. I can so relate to this Jason. For me, it’s about seeing as I know we all see the world differently, even if it’s only slightly. We carry our experiences, which collectively are unique, into the place, which is itself unique in that moment. All this adds to our visualisation, and we then begin along the road to realisation by pressing the shutter.

    1. Absolutely, and none of us can really guess precisely how anyone else sees. As we do our best to weave our own authenticity into our vision our viewers will have a better chance of recognising that certain ‘something’ in our work which connects or relates to their own vision. Thank you for your comment John.

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