knee deep in weeds

notes on living a life

Seeking Vision

"This is not a journey to a distention, but a journey of ongoing discovery." 
~ David duChemin, The Visual Toolbox 

I  needed a new hair dryer and so it seemed only reasonable to order a few of the other things that had been sitting in my Amazon shopping cart while I was at it. 

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David Duchemin's new book, The Visual Toolbox, was among one of those items and it came Tuesday afternoon. I could hardly wait to snuggle down with it that night in bed. It is broken up into 60 lessons and I plan to take them one at a time and really try and work through the book. I think his stuff is amazing, but more importantly I think his philosophy on photography and life in general are really spot on. 

In the first lesson he asks that we spend some time with our favorite photos. Not the photos everyone else likes; not the ones which have made Flickr explore or received a lot of likes on Facebook, but our favorites. So I did that. I looked through hundreds of photos yesterday, going back to 2011 and what I noticed was this. . .  

My favorite photos are not usually posed. My favorite photos are not particularly  sharp or perfectly focused or even well composed. My favorite photos are not always thought out, and so my camera setting might be off a bit.  My favorite photos are often moody and a bit dark, but not always. Most of my favorite photos are taken with my camera, but some are taken with my phone. My favorite photos awaken a memory in me and take me right back to that moment. My favorite photos speak to me. 

He asks that we look to see if there is a common thread among these photos, because this is a hint as to how we see the world around us. I can see common themes for sure: my family, Basil, simple moments. And I can see a certain shooting style, usually fairly close up and straight on, post processed a bit dark and moody. Very few landscapes made the cut. And unless you want to count my morning bowl of blueberries or my delicious margarita, no still life photos either. Nothing really staged. 

What I found interesting is that very few of my favorite photos are of flowers and yet I bet I have more flower photos on hard drives than anything else. I thought about this, as I took my camera out in the backyard last evening, and this is what I decided; flowers are easy and a willing subject, they surround me because I love to garden and I do find them so beautiful, but what they don't necessarily evoke in me is a memory. If I didn't know that the photos below were taken this spring, they could be any year, and really in any one's garden. So while I love flowers and will still take tons of photos of them, they are not my favorites because they do not kindle a lot of emotion inside of me or trigger a specific memory. And for me that is what my favorite photos seem to have in common. 

David says at the end of the first lesson: 

"What is important now is that you begin to recognize your vision, and own it as your. You are obligated to no one but yourself to make the photographs you do, so make them your way."

This exercise has given me permission to stop seeking out that one perfect photo. It has given me freedom to turn my camera on subjects and moments which speak to my heart and awaken joy deep inside of me. And, I understand now, that those feelings are a very big part of why I do this. 

Why do you take photographs? What are your favorites? 

thanks for stopping by today,