THE IMAGE TELLS A STORY

PLANNING VS. IMMERSION

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I always work from inspiration.
Roy Henry Vickers


As a photographer, every trip is an opportunity.  Before I travel, like many, I research my destination ahead of time.  I consider the season, I look at the weather, I even do a pinterest and google image search to get a sense of what I might find upon arrival.  In other words, like a good girl scout - I plan.  But lately, I have discovered that no amount of planning can replace the simple act of immersing yourself in a place.

My recent trip to Tofino BC was planned specifically.  November is the start of storm season in that part of the world.  As I boarded the plane heading west, my mind was filled with all of the beautiful and dramatic images of stormy beach fronts and misty forests that I would make.  We arrived to glorious sunshine and for the first few days I found myself strangely reluctant to pick up my camera.  The moody images I had envisioned were nowhere to be found… so I suppose in a way, I was waiting.  Until finally one beautiful afternoon we went for a walk on the beach and I decided to take my camera just in case the weather should turn (it sounds absurd to me now but that’s truly where my mind was).  Luckily as we walked I began to immerse myself in what was happening on the beach and started to see the beauty all around me.  I stopped looking for the images I had created in my mind and I started to SEE what was there.

Silvered Signs

Thank goodness.  For I honestly believe these images not only tell the story of what it is like to experience a beautiful November day on Chesterman Beach in Tofino, but these are some of the most impactful images I have ever made.

They come from a place of inspiration.  As Roy Henry Vickers (a wonderful local west coast artist with a stunning gallery in Tofino) points out, inspiration is derived from the latin word inspiratos - which means breath.  When you breathe and immerse yourself, the spirit of a place comes into you and through you.

I still believe that planning is important and can yield some wonderful results.  But immersion - the act of allowing yourself to remain open to what a place has to offer - for me never fails to result in inspired images.

David DuChemin (another west coast of Canada local) is known for his quip “gear is good, but vision is better.”  If could borrow his format I would say “planning is good, but immersion is better.”  For while planning might help you find beauty, immersion will inspire you see it surrounds you.

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The next time you head out on a trip - be it to your backyard or further afield - give immersion a try. I'll wager you make some beautiful images as a result.

 

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THERE'S A STORY TO TELL

Old World Exploration of Moody Milford Sound

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “story” lately.  In addition to photographer and artist, I call myself a visual storyteller so I suppose it's not surprising that I’ve put some thought into it.

I recall when I was in my twenties, noticing that the bulk of the conversations my then middle aged father and his friends shared centred around story telling.  In fact I remember feeling bored by it.  “Did I tell you about….” my father would start.  I would gently smile in hopes of taking the sting out of my response “Yes, you shared that one with me already.”  Is that all they do I wondered?  Swap and re-tell old stories?  Ugh,  isn't there more to life?

Now I am the middle aged storyteller and it's funny that as I have aged the value of stories has become obvious.  Stories are the core of life.  They give meaning, provide context and help us to connect.  

With vast quantities of visual media bombarding us daily - stories have even greater value than ever.  I crave the deeper connection that comes when a story is told alongside an image.  Listening to an artist share their experience of creating their work often will greatly deepen my affection for the work.  Does this happen to you?  I find I can even forge a connection to a subject I normally have no interest in - say for example tennis (no offence to tennis enthusiasts). If I happen to watch tv coverage of a tennis player's life everything changes.  Knowing the “story” - the athlete’s hopes, dreams, struggles and triumphs - connects me to them and suddenly I am engaged in watching a game I previously had no interest in.

But I call myself a visual storyteller but what story am I telling?  Of course each image has it’s own creation story - an account of the experience or moment, but I have started to notice that most of my images are part of a larger narrative. Looking at my work they make a collective statement: 

all natural landscapes contain a beauty that we need

The ones we find close by us as well as in more remote places.  As a photographer, artist and visual storyteller, I hope my images will remind others to seek this beauty, help them to find it and encourage them to preserve and protect it.  

In truth, the image is NOT what is important at all.  The image is the icing on the cake - but without the cake there would be no reason for it.

 

INSPIRATION THIS WEEK:

  • Trey Ratcliff
    Trey is the consummate storyteller.  His daily (so impressive) blog posts always include a new image from his travels with a bit of the story behind them. You can find him online at your preferred social media stream or at the hub Stuck In Customs
  • Karen Hutton
    Karen has a wonderfully unique way of posting.  Her beautiful images are paired with a creative bit of prose.  She sets the stage and then lets you in on the dialogue the characters of the image are having.  Sounds like no big deal… but here is the magic part… her images are mostly of landscapes. I follow Karen on google+ but you can also visit her blog.
  • Gage Salyards
    Gage describes himself as a "Gentleman explorer. World Traveller. Life photographer."  Having met him and followed his work ever since, I have to agree - he is all of those plus a man with an incredible personal story of resilience.  His latest postings on instagram @eyeamgage not only contain his beautiful images but also inspiring and thoughtful words.
  • Maptia - “is a beautiful way to tell stories about places”  They ask the question "Do you believe stories can change the world?"  If your answer is yes... then you are in the right place. http://maptia.com
  • Exposure - If you haven’t visited https://exposure.co yet then don’t wait any longer.  "Exposure is a tool to create beautiful photo narratives. It’s also a community of passionate photographers and storytellers. Exposure is a great place to tell your photo stories.”  This is the place where visual storytelling lives.  My first story is here.
  • Zaria Forman
    This artist and her hyper realistic works of art in soft pastel are incredible.  Their photo-like quality caught my attention but it was the story of what inspired her to create them made me love them.
 

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QUINTESSENTIAL MOMENTS

Summer is so fleeting. These days I greedily savour every warm fresh air moment I can.  Calm mornings at the water’s edge are among my favourite quintessential Ontario summer moments.  Getting up in time to make sunrise images means a very early start and though I am often still sluggish as I set up my gear, on calm mornings there is a peaceful energy that radiates from the quiet of nature and recharges my soul.  Perhaps it’s the promise of a sunny day ahead just waiting to be filled with warm weather pastimes.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and had a chance to get out and enjoy your own quintessential moments. 

 

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION THIS WEEK:

  • I found myself wondering if my image above was a good example of "golden hour" but wasn't certain how that was defined.  The article by Germán Marquès at petapixel.com "Understanding Golden Hour, Blue Hour and Twilghts" was perfect for helping me out with that.

  • When it comes to quintessentially Canadian landscapes, round pink rocks and still clear waters definitely scream Ontario to me, but the Rockies must come to mind for many.  The mini film Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies from The Upthink Lab does an amazing job of showcasing them.

 

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