The art of making nothing at all

Today's posting is a philisophical one. In it, I try to consider how as photographers, the act of making images, actually gets in the way of us being able to truly appreciate / relax / see what is really in front of us. Maybe what I'm saying, is the act of photography can end up with someone chasing so many images, that they are not able to see them anymore. Like a HiFi fanatic, who spends all his money on better audio cable, and finds he is no longer enjoying the music, but is too wrapped up in trying to make the quality perfect, so too, can chasing photographs mean, that we are no longer enjoying the scene, and because we are no longer enjoying it, we aren't able to connect and respond to anything beautiful that is presented to us. So in this posting, I suggest that sometimes, leaving the camera behind, and just letting yourself watch and study, absorb and enjoy the landscape, can be a great way of recharging your own photographic ability.

Lastly, I'm a great believer in things happening when they choose to, and not when I want them to. There will always be another day for photography, and there will always be 'just one more shot' that you want to make. The photographer who is never satisfied, never able to 'get everything', is chasing a dream.


A few weeks ago, I released a new eBook about self-awareness. In it, I covered the biggest stumbling block in making good images - ourselves and our 'issues'.

I've been thinking tonight, that I'm finding that after 10 years of intensive image making, I'm starting to just enjoy not using a camera, not going out specifically to make images. I'm wondering if it's true, that as photographers, we start off with a desire to photograph everything. Most of us have very limited free time, so when we do have that free time, we use it to do as much photography as we can. I can certainly testify that some of my portfolios were made in very intensive 3-week vacation blasts (Iceland in 2004 for instance).

But I've become more patient as a photographer. I like to just wait until things happen and I'm faced with something that I find inspiring. I also love to take the pressure of, by simply leaving the camera behind, and just wonder around a location and enjoy it for what it is.

There's something very enjoyable about looking at sand, and how the sand interacts with the sea, with a photographer's eye, but with no picture in mind, and no camera at hand. Where once I would be frustrated and wish to have my camera with me to photograph these moments, I now relish just enjoying them as they happen. I think this is because I know that amazing moments happen all the time. I often read articles where photographers explain how something suddenly amazing happened. Well, these things happen all the time. So it's very nice to just walk around and enjoy them.

I'm wondering if this intensity to make images is slowly ground down to a more relaxed attitude towards making new work. I feel no massive pressure to make new work, because I believe it happens when I least expect it to, and not when I command it. I also wonder that the things I loved about scenery to start with, before I owned a camera, are now overcoming the almost blinding desire to make images more than enjoy the scenery for what it is.

Maybe the ultimate act in photography, is to not photograph anything at all, but just recognise a moment, let it imprint itself onto your soul, for the briefest of moments, and enjoy it for what it is: a moment in life where we were conscious of what we saw and felt.