So as I head into year seven of 35hunter, the temptation with a new year is to write some kind of review of the previous one.
It seems to be our western culture’s way to constantly strive to measure, assess and appraise.
If I was looking at my photography over 2021, it would be far easier than in any previous year since about 2006 to whittle own to my favourite few, simply because I’ve shot far less than in recent years.
In the last third of the year especially, I made fewer photographs than in some weeks in my heyday around 2012-2016, when I was churning out film photographs with dozens of different cameras and lenses, and testing many of the same lenses with digital bodies like my now departed Sony NEX 3N, and later the wonderful Pentax CCD sensor DSLRs like the K10D and K100D.
Should I be concerned that my Flickr stream – which has traditionally been an online backup/showcase for my very favourite photographs since 2009 – shows only four images from October, and none from November or December?
The more I go through life, the more I see it as a sequences of seasons.
In fact sequence isn’t quite the right word as the seasons don’t stack neatly on top of one another, one beginning promptly at midnight as the previous one ends at 11:59:59.
Much like new years in fact.
Whilst on a calendar the days are this organised, as humans we don’t undergo some instantaneous transformation as the clock chimes midnight.
We wake with the same skills and strengths and flaws and failings we took to bed the previous evening, whether it’s a New Year’s Day or any other.
Their – and our – evolution is gradual and fluid, as incrementally we seep forwards into our futures, not suddenly and in great leaps, showing clean heels and a cheery wave to our pasts.
I admired my fellow blogger and photographer Jim Grey’s approach this year with his word and theme for the coming year.
He usually picks just one word at the start of the year, to guide his growth and intentions for the coming 12 months.
But this year he admitted that he hadn’t evolved enough with last year’s theme, and has resolved to continue with the same one for 2022.
Once again, the seasons of our lives don’t have neat cut off points, much like those relationships where we claim to have made a clean break, but still have dreams of our ex-partners and try to figure out what went right and what went wrong a decade later.
The whole mess/mass of what we’ve seen and been and experienced before comes along with us for the next day/week/month/year of our lives.
Getting back to seasons, for me, I’ve realised that I’m deep in the midst of my season of family and parenthood.
With children of 13, 8, 2, and another imminent, my main focus is on these amazing little (and some now not so little!) human beings in my life.
I don’t go out twice a weekend for a couple of hours to photograph these days, but no longer do I feel a desperate need to.
The occasional walk with a camera seems enough.
Crucially – and this echoes what I’ve been saying on 35hunter since the beginning really – the most important part of photography for me is the experience, rather than the gear, or the end product, the photographs.
And as most of my photowalks involve rambling in the English countryside, the benefits are multiple, and most of them are the same whether I have a camera with me or not.
As I spoke about a few years ago, the photography itself is “an elegant, experience-elevating garnish on an already scrumptious and wholesome dish”, ie walking in nature.
Since the early lockdown around March 2020, when as a family we were walking miles daily, these walks have lessened, but remain a core element of our lives, and our health. Our two year old has been on more walks in his life than many adults undertake in a decade!
Now, I can imagine not making a photograph for a month. I can’t imagine not going for a walk in woods or fields for a week, let alone a month.
So whilst perhaps my photography is in a fallow season (and its length is as yet unknown), I’m not concerned, and nor do I feel I’m missing out.
I (still!) have more cameras than I know what to do with, even if it is about 10% of what I once had.
It’s very easy to grab the camera I’m into most (still the Ricoh GRD III currently, even if I have only used it a handful of times in three months) and head out for a few shots when I want to. I just don’t want to that much at the moment.
How about you? What season are you in with your photography – and your life overall?
As always, 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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