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.