Progress Isn't linear

I have to confess I've been having difficulty writing something on this blog for the past few months. After almost a decade of writing a frequent blog, things become harder to cover as the risk of repeating oneself becomes higher. I don't like to write on my blog unless I really have something to say. 

 Each year I have been very lucky to surprise myself. I never envisaged this shot before the trip to the central highlands: it just landed in my lap.

Each year I have been very lucky to surprise myself. I never envisaged this shot before the trip to the central highlands: it just landed in my lap.

Right now, I feel I am at a cross roads with my photography. There has been so much progress and development for me over the past decade. I've been fortunate to find certain landscapes that resonated for me and have been instrumental in helping me grow (or perhaps grow up) as a photographer: the Bolivian altiplano was the beginning of my style development, and has over the years taught me so much about simplification. I know know that when I thought there was nothing there but just negative space, gradual shifts in tone were still present. I learned to look again and to work with the less obvious, subtle shifts in light.

Over the years that I've been continuing to develop as a photographer, my choice of colour palette has become more muted (when appropriate). This too, was an instructive lesson, given to me by the stark landscapes of Iceland and Patagonia. I've learned that not everything works in soft warm colours and that I can also celebrate the more stark aspects of the landscape.

In essence:  the landscapes that  I have been drawn to have had another purpose beyond just being an aesthetic choice: they have been my teachers and I am now a very different person from the one who started this blog almost 10 years ago.

But progress isn't linear.

I have had to learn to work-through lean times. I've had periods of stagnation, where I felt I had perhaps reached the end of the tracks in how far I could go with my own development, only to find a few years later that my photography was taking a turn for the better. Either it was progress - a strengthening of already learned ideas and techniques, or it was a shift - a change in direction, or a change in tastes. Perhaps I found I had grown tired of the old ways and was now interested in a new way of seeing.

I have learned that I can't force progress. Forcing anything never works for anyone. All I know is that I just have to be open and wait for the cues for taking that further step forward.

We are the products of our experiences and memories. We are all defined by what we've learned and what we've seen and our experiences become part of us.

This is no different from our photography: our photographs are the culmination of our experiences that we amass over time, so in that way, our own progress is bound to slow: we start to haul around a lot of history with us.

 My journey has taken me to this point. Last year I created perhaps one of my most minimalist images to date.

My journey has taken me to this point. Last year I created perhaps one of my most minimalist images to date.

A photographic life should be full of wonder. We need to keep surprising ourselves, of shedding old skin and evolving. I know so far that I've been lucky for this to happen for me at different times over the years.

I'm aware also, that in recent years my photographs have become less focussed on the iconic landscape, less saturated, and to me at least, there is more of a thematic side to them brought about by tonal responses. I know I still have a long way to go, but just sometimes I'm not sure what the path up ahead is taking me, and I need to be patient and let it come when it's ready.