The three things that seem to cause most stress in my day to day life are mess, noise, and rushing.
So perhaps I’m not ideally predisposed to have three kids, two of them boys under eight.
Anyway, as you know – and like you – photography is a mainstay in my life, and a passion I can’t really imagine being without.
One of the key reasons is it allows me to escape from the triple threat to my state of calm and balance I mentioned above.
Let’s look at how these three manifest in photography, and how I move away from them.
On the whole I like simple, stark, compositions. Also, I shoot more in b/w than colour, which in itself accentuates elements like light and shadow, texture, and the basic arrangement of the shapes in your composition.
Mess would equate to a busy street scene where I wouldn’t know where to focus, what to leave in the frame and what to exclude, and generally feel torn in a dozen directions.
By focusing on simple, ordered (to me, but not necessarily literally things arranged in a row) compositions, it also feels like I’m escaping the mess of every day life (and by this I simply mean the aftermath of children playing, eating, bathing, rather than anything more dramatic like tattered relationships!)
Literally, I get away from noise by going on walks in empty woods and ancient rural churches where I rarely see anyone, and the only sounds I hear are entirely of nature’s own making.
More metaphorically, escaping noise in photos is similar to avoiding mess above – looking for simplicity and order.
Although sometimes a scene can be so noisy, it flips beyond the chaos and into a kind of serenity, a tipping point we spoke about a few months back.
So I escape noise – both aurally and visually – with how I choose to explore and engage in photography.
Anyone with children will relate that trying to get more than just yourself organised and ready to be somewhere on time is a challenge, the magnitude of which seems to multiply with each additional child.
(Though some say once you get into double figures they start to look after each other and it gets easier.)
To escape this horribly frustrating feeling of constantly rushing to be somewhere that’s not of your own choosing anyway, I only really head out on a photowalk if I know I have at least an hour to myself – and preferably two.
Not for me the snatched shots of a work lunch break or five minute diversion on the way home.
I need the equivalent of a deep hot soak in fragrant bubble bath, rather then splashing a bit of water on my face, a quick spritz of deodorant, and rushing out again.
With these longer photowalks, I can amble and wander at my own pace, photographing as much or as little as I wish. Another way photography helps me escape.
As you can see, photography gives me a fairly reliable route out of feelings of the stress, anxiety and challenges of daily life.
Photography gives me a compass through the chaos, a tried and tested outlet that leads me to a certain state of pleasure and calm, almost every time.
And for that, regardless of the equipment I use, and the final images that result, it is incredibly precious.
How about you? How does photography help you escape and/or deal with some of the challenges of day to day life? How does it give you a compass through the chaos?
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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