How We Photograph Is How We Live

“How you do anything is how you do everything…” wrote Derek Sivers a few years back.

Before (re)discovering this quote, I’d been realising recently how my photography has been falling back in line with the rest of my life.

Put another way, how I photograph has realigned with how I live – simply.

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For exercise… I don’t have fancy equipment, clothing, or a gym membership. I have a yoga mat and a pull up bar on our bedroom door frame. Since October 2010 I’ve practiced 20 minutes of yoga every morning combined with daily gratitudes. I do seven pull ups every time I walk past the bedroom. I’m experimenting with “Sevens” in the evening – a set of seven pull ups, seven push ups, seven squats and seven breaths of rest, repeated as many times as I can. I also walk a fair bit. This year I’ve started tracking my activity and with a little extra effort I’m managing 11,000 steps a day.

For music… I burned and then sold my 600+ CD collection years ago, then lost the digital files in a hard drive fail. Since, I’ve built up a small, discerning collection, starting with essentials like these and these, and more recently, this. Virtually all of my music comes through my iPhone and earphones or a pair of very robust and portable Ultimate Ears Wonderbooms.

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Online… I’ve gradually dropped the maybe a dozen websites and blogs I began in earnest years ago and was no longer keeping up with but still paying for, and now just have my old blog archived on WordPress, and this one, 35hunter. My main site from my creativity coaching days simply redirects to the archived one.

With social media… After much exploring and head scratching recently, now I simply follow and support a few other blogs, use Flickr, and email.

For footwear… A past chapter of my life featured 15 pairs of trainers. Now I have two pairs of trainers, and one pair each of work shoes, walking boots, wellies and flip flops.

With clothing… I recently bought a new coat (after seven years of good service from my old North Face) that consists of a waterproof outer shell plus removable fleece lining, so it gives my three options in one. I don’t really need any other outdoor wear.

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I drink… Mostly water, with two or three cups of mint tea a day, and an occasional hot cocoa. I’ve never been fond of alcohol or caffeine so nothing to give up there!

With food… I have a pretty consistent diet now. Breakfast is apricots or grapefruit with Greek yogurt, then home made spelt or rye bread, toasted with butter. A carrot, banana or home made cereal bar is my morning snack. Lunch is usually salad based with couscous, quinoa or orzo, then frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc) with more Greek yogurt.

A later snack might be peanut butter on crackers or oat cakes. Dinner is usually something delicious created by my wife and five days out of seven influenced by Joe Wicks, whose menus generally work really well for us both. Then finally an evening bowl of bran flakes or porridge oats with almond milk. I usually manage to fit in two or three squares of the heavenly Green & Blacks 85% dark chocolate in somewhere too.

I’ve cut my sugar intake by half to two thirds in the last nine months, and more recently halved dairy (cows milk) and bread too. I was shocked at the sugar content in previous favourites like orange juice, oranges, grapes, cereal bars, dried fruit and muesli, as well as more obvious culprits like jam, marmalade, cakes and biscuits. My digestive system and my head are really appreciating the changes and the simplification.

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My cameras… Maybe 18 months ago numbered over 60, plus 25 or more lenses, in I don’t know how many mounts. I was in an anxious and unhappy spiral of buying up and testing any bargain I could find, thinking finally This time I might discover the one perfect camera/lens that would make me want to sell everything else…

But I realised there isn’t a perfect camera (just invisible cameras), and I didn’t want to be a broke camera tester, I wanted to be a photographer.

Now, I’m down to four film cameras – a Spotmatic F, Contax 139 Quartz, Olympus Mju 1 and Ricoh R1.

On the digital front, two Pentax K DSLRs, two Ricoh compacts and recent new love, the tiny Pentax Q total the kit. Plus nine lenses in M42 and K mount (and the lens the Q came with). The M42 lenses fit the two film SLRs, and both M42 and K lenses fit the two Pentax DLSRs.

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With my photography… Whilst I still have film cameras, I haven’t shot a whole roll of film in possibly nine months now.

Digital just suits me better and offers me the main aspects of photography I value (wandering woods, fields, sleepy villages, and churchyards hunting for beautiful things to capture) in a compact, convenient and very enjoyable way.

My subject matter tends to be natural, and my compositions simple, most recently enhanced by shooting almost entirely in black and white.

Processing I’ve been honing ever closer to zero, and with the Pentax Q I might just have reached that.

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How I photograph, is how I live. Simply, without fuss, stripped back to the vital essentials.

This keeps me focused, mindful, calm, and with enough space to breathe and be appreciative of all I do and have.

How do you photograph, and how does it fit with how you live overall?

I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

5 thoughts on “How We Photograph Is How We Live”

  1. I look at this from the other angle: how we live is how we photograph.

    I am kind of a cheapskate. So I tend to buy cameras that cost less than $50. On the other hand, when I truly love something I become willing to invest in it. And so bit by bit I’ve been sending my gear out for CLA and have become willing to spend real money on key gear items.

    But I tend also to live quietly, and as much as it depends on me, peacefully. Yet at the same time I’m a driver: when I am on task, I push hard to get it done. And so I photograph much the same: quietly, peacefully, purposefully.

    1. Jim, yes that is exactly the point, how we do anything is how we do everything. And if there’s a part of our lives that isn’t in alignment us, our personality and way of approaching things, then it jars and sticks out like a sore thumb. Which is what happened with me and hoarding cameras. I don’t like having too much of anything, so it was stressing me out rather than being something I was enjoying. Now I’m swinging back into alignment and feeling much happier about photography.

  2. Great to see you being able to transpose your discipline in life to your photography. If only I could get to that same level in my own life it would be easier.

    I’m always having problems to decide for anything in life… some shrink might even have a name for such a condition. And the same applies to my photography. Took me lots of iron will to get down to those 3 cameras and to stay there… but well, now I got the K10D, you see.

    Things were easier way back when. I could afford one SLR, a Canon AE-1 and it did the job. Are we influenced too much by our surrounding? Have I lost the will to listen to myself?

    There’s some work to do for 2018… sort of a resolution.

    1. Frank I think a huge thing for me on the camera front is simply to avoid temptation. Yes I have bought the Pentax Q recently, but before that I went about eight weeks without buying any camera on eBay (my longest stretch by far for about four years). I removed the eBay app from my phone and just stayed off it, mostly.

      Same with anything really, if I go to shops I’m tempted to buy stuff. So I rarely go!

      And it’s pretty similar too to being in a monogamous relationship. You can’t say you’re never going to find another person (many other people) attractive, that’s completely unrealistic. You just make the decision and commitment to be faithful to one, plus don’t put yourself in the kind of scenarios that might offer temptation.

      We live in times saturated with temptation and advertising messages. Some people just have to have a new car/camera/TV/phone/whatever every year and wouldn’t even consider buying something used. More fool them when you can buy even a two year old car or camera say for vastly less than it cost originally, and in nearly new condition. Why waste the money?

      I’m sure there’s an article or ten on this topic in both of us!

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