It’s a busy world. My recent lack of posts is evidence of the craziness in my life- and I know plenty of busier people. Technology demands that we are constantly responding to a barrage of social media updates, never mind Emails, texts, and the humble old fashioned phone call. So it’s no wonder that most of us mortal beings don’t stop and smell the roses.
When I say mortal beings I do not include photographers, for you, my friends and colleagues, are the ones who immortalise the minutiae of daily life many of us pass by. Who else in their right mind has time to stop and notice, let alone capture, the rusty surface of an old fence when they’re rushing to catch a train? Who has time to down tools and gaze, in depth, at a shirt drying in the sunshine when they’re late for a copy deadline? Or examine a discarded pile of supermarket trolleys when the shopping has to be done before the next meeting? And who else would bother to explore the texture and curves of an empty skateboard ramp (other than a skateboarder)?
This image of a skateboarding ramp, shot by Alan & Gretchen, turns an urban feature into an heroic sculpture. Who knew concrete and a drain could be so alluring?
The thing is, not only do photographers see things, and capture them; you nurse them into untold beauty. You make them into huge, tactile prints; into mesmerising looped footage; into meditative imagery. You reveal to us, the busy public, the wonders (and impurities) of the world through which we have dashed, oblivious to anything but the next task.
I always love going to an exhibition- not so much to the preview, but later when the previous evening’s guests are nursing their hangovers. That’s when I can stand back and appreciate an image in its entirety, or peer closely to see an expression on a distant face; a hidden gem. I love looped motion footage, enticing me to focus on the slightest movement of an apparently still image. This video, ‘Owl Breathing’, by artist Denise Batchelor, is ‘calming and meditative’, says curator Rob Garret, who often finds his own breathing synchronising with that of the rescued baby owl.
‘Owl Breathing, © Denise Batchelor
That said, even a shot on a website can stop me in my tracks, make me pause, focus, breathe, and gather energy to face the mayhem again.
When I’m editing folios on my laptop, occasionally my hubby, busily running past on a mission to achieve something or another, will stop in his tracks.’That’s a nice shot’ he’ll say. He’ll pause, look at it again, explore a few more images. I can practically hear his brain ticking over, wondering if he can use the shot, or that photographer, for an ad he might have been working on. Then he’ll be drawn away, mindful of his initial task. But more slowly, a little less frantic.
How nice to be able to distract someone with your view of the world. To stop them in their tracks and help them meditate, even for a few seconds. What a gift. That’s what advertisers are screaming out for; Imagery which has the power to distract their target market as they run for the train, type on their laptop, or rush to the supermarket.
So to all you serious photographers out there- thanks for capturing the world we often miss, and for showing us new ways of looking at old things, even though you’re just as busy. You’re helping us mortals stop and smell the roses, and we sure as hell need to.