A major appeal of riding to work on my ebike compared with a car, is the freedom I have over my speed.
In a built up area, in a car you’re limited firstly by the speed limit, then any traffic control such as traffic lights and roundabouts, then finally by the volume of traffic.
In a car you have to go at the prevailing speed of the traffic, there’s no choice. And that speed is anything but regular as it splutters, stutters, stops and starts, your foot depressing the clutch a hundred times in the space of a three mile journey.
On my bike though, by reading the conditions and taking a few detours that avoid traffic, I can maintain a fairly consistent 13 mph.
It gives me a great sense of freedom, in places where travelling the roads by other means have many restrictions.
With photography, we can make the same kind of choices.
We either take a car and join the masses on the roads, or jump on a bike and choose our speed, dictate our own journey.
This choice of our pace of photography begins with the camera we use.
We can join the superhighway of ever faster and ever more feature laden new cameras, upgrading every year – even twice a year – as a newer, supposedly better model supplants last year’s perfect camera, ie the one we currently use.
Or we can step off the populist merry-go-round, and choose a camera that’s older and less sophisticated, but free from unnecessary options, buttons and menus, doesn’t require a loan to purchase, has its own unique charm and character (in use, and in the final image) and is great fun to use.
This latter approach is the one I take, meaning I’ve chosen to ignore someone’s else parameters (and advertising messages!) and set my own.
I’m choosing photography at the speed of me.
This choice is available in how we shoot too.
When I predominantly shot film, I rarely started a photowalk with half a roll remaining. I just liked to start afresh each time and choose the camera, lens and film combination for that venture.
This meant as I neared the end of the trip, if I hadn’t finished the roll of film (or was part way through a second or even third roll), I would want to finish it off and have it processed, so next time I was starting anew again.
So the last two, four, perhaps even 10 shots would inevitably suffer. Far from being my best work, mostly they weren’t even images worth making at all.
Add up all those wasted last frames, and over a few years I shot rolls and rolls of film of pointless photographs.
Nowadays with digital, I don’t have this issue at all.
The fruits of my photowalks aren’t measured in multiples of 24 or 36 images. Sometimes I might shoot just seven, or 21, or 74 images.
I just shoot until I know I’ve had enough, and whilst of course I still edit and delete most of the pictures taken, at least I’m not burning up physical, expensive film in the process.
Again, I’m choosing my own pace. I’m choosing photography at the speed of me.
When I’m actually out photographing, I’m not using continuous shooting modes or a scattergun approach, hoping that if I shoot 17 microscopically different versions of the same scene, one of them will be what I need, then I can delete all of the rest.
I compose each frame slowly, carefully, with patience, aiming to get the shot right the first time, without the need to crop afterwards. Which of course adds to the whole meditative and therapeutic quality of photography.
Again, I’m choosing photography at the pace of me.
Extending on from this, I’m also setting my own pace with how much I share. I admit in the past there were times when I felt the need to share new photographs just to prove I was still making photographs.
But, like the habit of needing to finish off a roll of film on each photowalk, this meant far too many photographs I made were pointless, and I wondered why I’d made them, let alone shared them.
These days, whilst I’m sure my editing could be more ruthless still, I know I don’t share just for the sake of it. I try to only upload photos to my public Flickr and share here on 35hunter that I’m really proud of.
Once more, I’m choosing photography at the speed of me.
How about you? Are there any aspects of your photography where you feel you’re driven by someone else’s pace or demands or expectations?
Put another way, how can you reclaim photography at the speed of you?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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