Sunday, 24 November 2013

Finding time or wasting time?

The clinging remnant. by James_at_Slack
The clinging remnant., a photo by James_at_Slack on Flickr.
This is a subject that interests me a lot.
I've heard full time photographers talk about how they put up with doing commercial work so they can have some money to take a few months off doing their own,creative work. Most aim for getting about three months to themselves to be creative. It was hearing this that made me realise that, although I work full time in a job that is still regarded as one of the most stressful, teaching, I have 12 weeks holidays a year, ie three months!

Why couldn't I get more creative work done?

Well, it takes time to clear your head of work concerns, time to sit and think. Also, there are major projects I like to get on with at home - stuff that needs weeks of time. So it gets back to priorities and taking into account other people and your responsibilities.

The bottom line for me is, and it is this point that I think that separates those who achieve their goals and those who don't, work ethic. It is getting up off your backside and doing it whenever, wherever, no matter how tired you feel. It's that 10,000 hours thing Malcolm Gladwell talks about. As Nike said, just do it. But that means everything - work, family duties, social duties and being creative.
Procrastination, tiredness, apathy, be gone with you!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The journey to the image.

Often, when I discover and explore an abandoned cottage or community, I get excited, engrossed, moved, scared even.

Before I even step inside a ruin, there is usually some reading days beforehand on the history of the area and /or the people who once lived there. Then there's the maps and route planning to be done, checking the weather and finding a free weekend to go.

The walk to the ruin can be the best and worst part of the day. Either way, it affects how I will make images that day.

Sometimes, but not often, I may have company. The conversations on the way may also alter my feelings and mood. I may be enjoying the company so much, the actual picture taking can get in the way!

The surrounding area of many of the ruins I go to is stunning in the right time of the year and weather. I can be so chilled and relaxed in my surroundings that, again, taking pictures can sometime seem like a 'business' part to the pleasure of the trip.

However, more often than not, it's when I get to the ruin and I'm inside taking it all in and finding the right feeling and mood within myself, that I finally make an image and I'm totally in a zone that compliments everything that has gone before. I get a sense of purpose. I try to give this abandoned place some oxygen to its dying embers. I try to almost transmit what I see in front of me to the previous occupants so they can once again be there.

When I return home from a successful exploration, I'm buzzing, I feel recharged and de-stressed. I was totally focused for a period of time and all worries and concerns disappeared for a moment.

When it comes to actually uploading the images, processing them and finally sharing them, I'm finding it more of a chore. Why? Well, to be honest, many images are just ignore or glanced at. I can totally understand this. Most people have no interest in seeing old, abandoned buildings. It bores them and when I upload image after image like the one above, they quickly pass by.

I am getting better at not getting disappointed and upset that my images are not hugely popular. Don't get me wrong, and don't think I'm looking for sympathy or faint praise (or whatever the phrase is), I appreciate the many people who have commented on my work, supported me, encouraged me and, to my surprise, bought my work and hung on their wall. No, what I'm beginning to think is, this slight disappoinment can, at times, put a wee cloud over an otherwise great experience.

So, what am I trying to say here? Well, I'm beginning to sense that the preparation and journey is as much about my creative process as making the image. Maybe one day I'll make a sketch, or record the sounds I hear or even try to write something to express how I feel, rather than, or as well as making images. I could even start drawing on the images.

I should remember that nothing can take away the memory of the day, the feelings I had and the fact that I combined my love of history, walking, Scotland and photography.

I'd love to hear if you have any thoughts on 'the journey to the image'.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Looking out for the past in the present, Allalogie.

Had a great weekend this weekend.

It kind of started on Thursday night in Tarland at a talk and mini concert by a local accordian player called Rob McCombie. Great stories of his life and dance bands of north east Scotland followed as well as tunes to enhance the talk.
One of the best bits for me was finding out he was brought up in the house we own. So if you wanted to hear one of the best accordian players in the Howe of Cromar back then, you came to our house we now live in! What is interesting is, if you wanted to hear one of the best accordian players in the Buckie area, you came to our old family home to hear my late father play. He played in a dance band called Bill Geddes Band all along the coast and in land too.

On Sunday I met up with Janet, a lady I know from our local history group. She wanted to show me an abandoned house I hadn't been to before. It was a great wee place with some interesting rooms. In fact, I enjoyed the area the ruin was in so much, I went back alone in the afternoon to explore further. This is when I took this shot of me standing looking out the bedroom window.

The textures of the hole in the roof and the hole in the floor I thought were wonderful. I also liked the shadow cast by the jam jar. This was a 3s exposure so I placed myself at the window for one of the many 'ghost' shots I seem to be doing at the moment. It seems to fit the mood of these abandoned, forgotten and derelict places. Maybe it's cliched and unimaginative but I like doing them for now.

Later, I went for a walk in the area and who should I meet but the accordian player Rob! That was a nice surpise meeting and chat. He is keen to come to see his old home. We are looking forward to it and I'm hoping he will once again fill the house with music. What sounds were common in Allalogie I wonder?

Threads of history and traces of memories are there to be found. Remembering and celebrating past places, events and people I truly enjoy and will keep on exploring and capturing abandoned Aberdeenshire.

Monday, 11 November 2013

It's not the building but the people.

This blog needs some attention. Slow restart starts today.

Since the last post way back in August, my main job, as a secondary school teacher of History, has consumed not only my time, but also my energy and thoughts. Clearly, this is not a healthy state of affairs but I'm not here to seek sympathy. There's nothing much I can do about it but get on with it as best I can. Thing is, it shouldn't be an excuse to stop doing the the things I enjoy.

On many occasions I thought I should really get a blog post up.

One of the things that put me off posting was the negative influence other blog post I had been looking at were having on me. They seemed so deep and meaningful, full of big words and obscure references to photographers, poets and artists I'd never heard of. Made me feel right stupid and ignorant. So I felt I had nothing of interest to say.

Of course, this is daft thinking.

This is my blog and I should be 'me' on here and nobody else.

However, the content should be interesting too! Trouble was, I tended to see what I was doing in my spare time as not very interesting. I was over thinking this whole blog thing I concluded.

Fact is, quite a few people are interested in my work, if the recent CD covers/booklets, messages and print sales are anything to go by. So, I have decided to just do more regular, short and pithy posts that may or may not interest you.

You see, when all is said and done, I look forward to Andrea's blog posts more than any of the other 'deep and meaningful' lengthy blogs. I must be a philistine with a short attention span who likes humour more than debates on 'art' that baffle me, bore me and go nowhere.

I recently tweeted a comment along the lines of: 'I'm just going to keep churning out my stuff and remind myself why I wanted to do this in the first place. To hell with the rest.' I was feeling that there was too much crap getting far too much attention on social media for my liking. Jealous maybe, jealous probably, but it was getting to me so much I just wanted to remove myself from the
backslapping, mutual appreciation environment and get back to me, desperately attempting to satisfy a creative itch.

Like the title of the image of the abandoned church above, my creative efforts are not about social media, they should be about me.