Don't get a job

Malcolm Gladwell has often been misquoted that you just need to apply 10,000 hours to become great at something. He didn’t really quite say that. In his book he talks about those hours being quality hours. In other words, some people are great self-learners and if they apply themselves the right way, they can improve. Others spend hours on something and never get any better.

Well, I hate to put particular formulas on the arts, but I do think you have to be driven, and passionate and I think most people who are great at what they do, most probably found that they spent all their waking free hours doing what they do. It’s not guaranteed to get you there, but certainly putting the work in goes a long way towards it. And conversely, spending little time on it and applying little effort is going to get you nowhere fast.

I like Eno’s belief in (admittedly a very old interview) where he says that getting a job will just get in the way of what it is you are wanting to do.

Well, I’m not going to argue with this, but I’m not exactly telling you to drop your job either if you want to improve as a photographer. My point of showing you his video, is that I think to be a better artist, you need to immerse yourself in what you do.

His argument isn’t really to ‘not get a job’, but more about ‘using your free time more efficiently to spend on your passion’. Or perhaps ‘re organising your life so that you can spend more time on the things that are important to you’.

How many of us are time efficient? How many of you have heard others say ‘I’d really like to do that but I don’t have the time’. I’ve always felt this is a bit of a cop-out argument. If you really want to do something, you tend to find a way don’t you? You can’t not do the thing you want to do, because you so badly want to do them. So when I hear ‘I’d really like to do that but I don’t have the time’, I’m hearing that they have different priorities (which is fine).

If something is that important to you - you make the time, you find it some way, somehow. You just can’t not do the thing you are burning to do.

I also think that in the process of re-arranging your life to spend more time on the things you value most, things just start to change, and it’s almost as if the universe starts to give you more of what you want.

Venturer Ball head BH-1 Review

About a year ago, I was looking for a light weight tripod ball head, that is Arca-Swiss compatible for a hiking project I had in mind. Since I already owned a few Really Right Stuff ball heads, I was tempted to buy one of their more light-weight models. But one thing held me back: the cost.

I just wanted a very cheap ball head. Something for the hiking I planned to do, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it. So I chose to look around e-Bay and found the Venturer Ball Head BH-1. It looks like a Chinese copy of the Arca-Swiss Monoball . So I thought at £49 I’d give it a go.

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I think I should first say that I’m not usually the kind of person that weighs price over quality. Most of the time I would much prefer to pay $$$ to have something that works well, rather than spend a lot less on something that works poorly.

So I was curious as to what I’d make of a £49 ball head, and whether it would be any good? Would it fall apart after a few months? Or rust inside (like my Arca Swiss Monoball Z did just after six months of use - where Arca Swiss did not accept it as a warranty repair and told me I’d have to pay to have it fixed). I was also curious if this £49 ball head would have ball-head-creep - a condition where you lock the ball head in one position and let go and the camera sags……

So I’ve now owned this ball head for over a year now, and I took it with me to Patagonia and also across the sand dunes of Lencois Maranhensis in Brazil this summer. The ball head is still in one piece, and I found it was pretty robust. I also found that it didn’t have ball-head-creep - wherever I set it : it stayed. It is also light weight.

So I’ve found that a £49 ball head has pretty much replaced the other ball heads I’ve been using. Because it works, it’s light weight enough, and it also has the very nice friction mechanism that the Arca-Swiss monoball has - all my other ball heads - the friction setting is an independent dial that always gets knocked. With this ball head - it’s recessed into the main big knob and stays where I set it. And it hasn’t rusted inside like my Arca-swiss Monoball did after six months of use.

If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to the costly ball-heads out there by some very high profile brands, I would recommend this ball head. It’s a bit of a bargain for the money. It’s of similar build quality to the Really Right stuff ball heads, and has an arca-swiss clamp. It’s also pretty light, and it does what you want it to do : it keeps your camera steady and it stays where you lock it, with no creep. And it does all this for a fraction of the cost of an Arca Swss monoball, or Really Right Stuff BH model ball heads.

You can get it on eBay here: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Venturer-BH-1-46mm-Tripod-Ball-Head-Arca-Swiss-RRS-Compatible/273750526091?hash=item3fbccd888b:g:zxQAAOSwT6pV3DvR

Staying your ground, while everyone thinks you're wrong

About four years ago, I left Facebook, because I felt that it was getting in the way of my own inner aspirations. I was slowly but surely, starting to feel that I had to please my audience with what I posted, and that was making me very uncomfortable. Images that I thought were my best, I found would sometimes be received less enthusiastically than I had anticipated, while others that I thought were either very traditional or average would get more interest than I felt they deserved. I started to feel as if I was letting my audience dictate to me what I do as an artist.

I know they of course weren’t deliberately putting any pressure upon me, but I did start to wonder : “Just how much attention am I paying to others points of view about what I do?”

And that’s not good.

I’d been interested in Lencois Maranhenses in Brazil for around 5 years. I had a hunch there was great potential there for photography, yet when I searched on google images, I found very few inspiring images of the place.  We are living in an age where photographers are crowd gathering in certain key hot-spots around the world now. This is an example of everyone following everyone else. But you can find your own landscapes, your own place if you decide to go against the current trends and look elsewhere.

I’d been interested in Lencois Maranhenses in Brazil for around 5 years. I had a hunch there was great potential there for photography, yet when I searched on google images, I found very few inspiring images of the place.

We are living in an age where photographers are crowd gathering in certain key hot-spots around the world now. This is an example of everyone following everyone else. But you can find your own landscapes, your own place if you decide to go against the current trends and look elsewhere.

But it’s what most of us do. We value our own work based on the validation we get from others. And I think this is a problem we all have to overcome to some degree, if we want our work to be individualistic, rather than looking like everyone else’s work.

You see, I believe that to create work that stands out from everyone else’s, you have to go it alone. Pandering to trends or what others think, ultimately will dilute who you are. You become a mix of other people’s ideas and you lose yourself in trying to belong.

It all comes down to confidence.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about the importance of confidence in one’s own abilities. Confidence is required to be brave enough to do things that no one else is doing, and to maybe just ignore that just because everyone else is doing something, you don’t need to follow suit. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that I tend to have an aversion to going where everyone else is going. I despise trends to the point that when I start to find everyone wants to go to the same places as I do, I’d much rather stop going there, and find somewhere new to go to.

Being creative is about being willing to go in directions where no one else is going, or to mix up styles in a way that haven’t been attempted. It’s about trying to work outside your normal parameters of what you usually do.

Creativity is also about not giving a damn what others think, because most of the time, most others opinions are based on what is generally accepted. Show someone a new idea and you’ll find it often take time to be accepted. Being first at doing something is rarely rewarded in the arts.

This is why I feel that looking for acceptance on social media platforms doesn’t work, because these platforms work by the lowest common denominator : images that the majority will like, tend to do well. Which means to get any attention on these platforms, you have to create work that appeals to the middle road. As a result of this, your work becomes safe, and predictable, and again, you lose yourself in a sea of ubiquity.

Whereas being individual in your work means you’re probably not going to do appeal to the masses. Instead, you’re going to appeal to an underground group of people who like your particular thing.

This means you’re not going to get big like counts, and some folks just won’t get what it is that you do. So you have to toughen up, and that’s where confidence comes in. If you can build in a degree of belief in yourself, then you’ll feel more able to ride out the knocks and lack of acceptance you get from those that are looking for something more middle of the road.

But having confidence will enable you to be more committed to staying your ground even while others around you may think you are wrong.

Acceptance by others, often equates to conforming, fitting in, and most probably going down a well beaten path to accomplished mediocrity.

If you’re looking to find a style or find yourself in what you do, you have to learn to let go of needing other people’s validation. It takes guts and a degree of bravery to be different. But being different is the rarest currency you possess, because no one else can do you, like you can :-)

Protecting yourself from Burn out

This September will be the ten year anniversary of me starting my workshop and tour business.

I’ve decided to avoid using the phrase ‘going pro’, because ‘going pro’ is meaningless. Getting paid for what you do does not, in my book, mean you are any good at what you do. Nor does it mean that you are above others who ‘aren’t pro’ in terms of ability.

There are many, many talented beings on this planet who for whatever reason aren’t pursuing their passion / love as a career - and that is OK in my book. Just because you are talented, or good at what you do, you do not have to turn it into your vocation. I think it is just as admirable to do what you love, as a past time. It does not make it any less valid.

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Turning what you do, into a business is fraught with many potential problems. I’m going to avoid writing about ‘running a business’ here, and focus more on the personal relationship that you have to develop with yourself. You have to figure out a way to live with your art and somehow let it co-exist with the commerce side of things. Above all else, you have to protect your art from yourself, because it can be very easy to sell yourself out at some point - throw what you value away in the pursuit of making a living. It can be for some a fine line, or for many a grey area where the love for what they have ‘soon leaves the building’ as they unknowingly sell out in pursuit of doing what it takes to make a living.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

I’ve never done anything in my business with the aim of ‘this will make money’. I’ve always looked at all the workshops and tours I’ve set up as ‘pretty cool things that I want to do’, and I’ve been lucky enough that there are enough people out there who agree with me, and want to come on these trips (Thank you to those of you who’ve chosen to come along with me on these trips).

My philosophy is: ‘If it feels good, then you can’t go wrong’.

Staying focussed on what you think is cool, rather than what you think will sell, is paramount. It not only means you’re tapping into what inspires you, but it also avoids you selling your soul.

The only downside I have with my business over the past ten years, is of balancing my working life with some rest.

I need to disengage every once in a while. And rather than feel guilty about it (which I often do, because I’ve been programmed all my life to work, and if I’m not working - I must be slacking). I understand that time away from my business, time away from photography, time to re-charge by doing something entirely different - is not only important for me, but it is also a very healthy thing to do for my business if I want it to keep it flourishing.

I have to work at protecting myself from burn out. And rather than giving myself some guilty complex about taking some time out, and doing something that is entirely non-photography related, I know that I need to embrace it. It allows me to re-charge, so I am ready to go back to the workshop / tour schedule, and most importantly, to go back with an excited, ‘I can’t wait’ feeling. Which is what happens when each September rolls around, and I’ve given myself sufficient time away from what I love doing.

You can’t keep focussing on your passion all of the time. Thinking, living and breathing photography as a hobby is fine, but you do need to take time away from it. Trust me on this - give yourself a break from your passion / hobby / obsession and do something entirely different for a while. It will reap dividends in so many avenues of your life, as well as in your photography when you do return to it.

Managing Time

I’m very creative and productive, and I rarely procrastinate.

But I never work all the time. When I don’t know how to proceed with something, I’ll quite happily shelve it and go and do something else while my subconscious figures out what the next step is.

I just know how to manage my time - if something isn’t working - I’ll go and do something else instead.

Those that don’t manage their time, waste it by sitting in front of their computers trying to figure out what to do next. I’d much rather use the time for something I do feel like doing.

In this short video, Dr. Ken Atchity explains how creative people manage their time.

Visualising the future

Everything we see that is human made in the world, started off as an idea.

Ideas are powerful things.

Tonight I’ve been dreaming of a book, a physical one. Let’s see where my dreams take me (this is not a hint, nor an indication of what’s to come. I’m just illustrating that for me, I tend to visualise the things I want to come to fruition). I would really like to do a book about the my process. I think I am going to have to give this some serious thought……

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Letting go of completed work

When is our work finished? When do we decide it’s done, and put it to bed? When do we move on?

These are difficult questions because often, truth is hard.

It’s very hard to let go. Not just of our completed work, but of everything. But I believe that it’s necessary, let alone paramount to staying healthy, to do so. At some point, what we have poured our efforts into, has to be shelved in the ‘done’, or ‘past’ shelf. Otherwise we never move forward and more importantly, we never create the space required to let the future come in.

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But when does one know when work is complete?

I think the answer is: it never is.

Work is never complete. But we have to realise at some point, that we’ve gone as far as we can go with it. Perhaps an older self, a version of us much later in the future may know how to take it further, but the truth is - if you’re feeling you’re at the end of the road with the work - then it’s complete.

There’s a tendency to overwork stuff. Spoil it. Part of your skillset as a photographer is to know when you’ve done enough, and to understand when the time is right to let go.

For me, I don’t like to dwell on my older work. I seldom look at it. I think for me, it’s more the creation of new work that inspires me, rather than dwelling on what I already have created. By not looking at my older work, I feel I’m allowed to free myself from the past. You see, revisiting what you did, and endlessly toying with it - is just far too unhealthy in my book. It smacks of someone who’s got no new ideas.

There’s a line in a song by a British band called Prefab Sprout that goes:

‘You surely are a truly gifted kid,
but you’re only as good as, the last great thing you did’
-
Moving the River by Prefab Sprout

It’s a line that’s stayed with me for most of my life. It’s a reminder that tinkering with images and never leaving them alone, means I’m stuck in the past. I’d much rather be out there creating new work, and discovering more about what i’m capable of producing. Everything I create is a vignette. It’s only ever a shadow of what could have been. I know I’ll never complete anything, so everything I do is unfinished. Rather than get wound up about it, it’s much healthier to assume that everything is a prototype, a moment in time, just a moment. It makes it less precious, and allows me to move forward.

Letting to let go is hard. I hope you don’t think that at any point in this post I suggest it’s easy - for you - for me. It’s just hard. But it is necessary.

Exhibition Cancelled

Dear all,

I’m very sorry to have dropped the ball on this. I should have made an announcement much earlier in the year, but things just got away from me.

The exhibition I had hoped to run this summer is cancelled. I had to make a decision on this a while ago due to some commitments elsewhere. I do hope that if you had been making plans, that I haven’t caused you too much inconvenience.

I do hope to run another exhibition at a later date, but I think it will be a few years before the next one.

Once again, apologies if you were intending on coming along.

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Taking a much needed rest

There’s just so much still to be done….. but even I know, that everyone needs a rest.

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I’m going to be quiet on this blog for the next month. Just to let you know.

After running so many workshops and tours this year, I’m stepping back and taking some time away from photography. I’ll be spending the time doing some trekking, kayaking and messing around with music.

Everyone needs a break, even if you love what you do. Take it from me, too much time on your passion or hobby can be unhealthy. Some time away, doing other things will allow you to return to it with the same fresh wonder that you had when you first encountered it.

So right now, that’s what I’m going to do.

My True Country

As a Scot, I’ve become more patriotic as I’ve grown older. I think this is common.

I haven’t made any serious photographs in my own back yard (my country) in over a decade. It’s been a long while. But I harbour thoughts of one day, producing a book about Scotland. Except, I just don’t want to do the usual stuff, it’s been done. As I said in my last newsletter, I yearn for individuality in my work. Going around photographing the same contenders, just doesn’t do it for me.

Perhaps someday. I’m not sure when, but I think the idea has been brewing for some time now. I’ll do it when the time is right.

It’s nice to have a dream. Something to work towards. Everything starts from that point. Doesn’t it?

Shooting the non obvious

I must admit that the three images below, were only caught because of rare climatic conditions.

One of my favourite national parks - Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia is still offering up new things for me, despite us being old friends. I have been travelling here since 2003. Since that time, I’ve seen my photography flourish from a keen amateur into something else entirely.

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I had wondered if I’d reached the end of where I can go with Torres del Paine. To some, it may seem as if this landscape is overly busy, complex, and not for the minimalist photographer. I’m often at pains to say to everyone who will listen to me, that I think the biggest limitations in our photography - is us. It’s us who holds us back.

Not the landscape. The landscape has no concept of us, and it’s just going to do what it does without us. So us wishing it to be a certain way, is just us dealing with our own expectations…. badly I might add.

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I could never have guaranteed these shots. And I think that’s what’s just most inspiring about photography: we never know when we’re going to strike gold, or create a set of images we couldn’t have anticipated.

It teaches me that I always need to be open. I need to be ready, and able to look laterally at a place. I’m not immune to the same problems we all have: I get disappointed, despondent when I think a place isn’t working. I also know I need to rise above it, and that I can’t control what the landscape provides. Even so - I still get downbeat when things aren’t working in my favour. I know it’s my problem. Not the landscape’s.

I just love that if someone had shown me these three images a year ago, even a month or so ago, I would never have imagined it possible to make such minimalistic shots in Torres del Paine. It’s no back slapping here - just simple wonderment that I should always try to expect the unexpected, that life is always full of surprises, and the best in what we shoot is always still to come.

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Next book project is underway.....

Book No.5. Who would have thought it?

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…. I’ve got over 100 images for my next book. But I feel there’s a missing gap, so this summer I aim to fill that gap with a return to a special place that I’ve gotten to know over the past while.

Thanks for buying my books. It has allowed me to be the creative person I am. I could not live on running workshops and tours alone. I need to have my own personal projects / art to do, and producing books, working on the concepts behind them, the layout, and the images is all very fulfilling for me.

Sorry for being so quiet

Just wanted to write tonight to say that I know I’ve been quiet.

I’d much rather write when I have something to say, rather than writing for the sake of it.

Right now, I’m taking some time out. I’ve been super busy this year : Hokkaido, Romania, Iceland, Chile, Brazil and soon Bolivia.

Even though I love photography and feel I found my true vocation in life with it, I still feel I need time away. I have other interests such as music writing / production.

We all need to step back and take a rest from whatever it is we love. It allows us to return fresh and with excitement.

I will be back in touch in a short while. I have some new images and some other things I want to share.

Right now, I’m just enjoying working in my home studio. It’s a lot of fun !

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Thank You

A few nights ago, I put out a mini-newsletter, advertising that I had some soiled stock remaining from the print run of my Altiplano book. And also, that I had found some copies of my Iceland and Art of Adventure book.

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I just want to thank everybody who bought a copy.

Upon reading the ‘comments’ section of the orders I found the following wonderful words:

“Thank you for making this available!”

and

“Thank you! I so admire your work.”

and also

“Hi Bruce, it will be just wonderful to own one of your stunning Iceland books. Thanks so much for the opportunity!”

Apart from comments like this stroking my own ego (something I keep denying that I have), It was simply just so nice to feel appreciated.

Because feeling appreciated means a lot. And I think that’s why we all look for compliments in what we do, whether it’s seeking approval through being commended in a competition, or simply someone saying to you ‘your image touches me in some way’.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

You see, the truth is, although we all love photography, and admire people’s talents for creating wonderful work, most of us seldom patronise it.

A little digression: the word patronise has several meanings. One of them is this:

“to give encouragement and financial support to (a person, especially an artist, or a cause): local churches and voluntary organisations were patronised by the family. “

That’s the kind of patronage I’m talking about here.

As a working ‘artist’ (I find that term rather pompous, but I don’t feel I’m a photographer), the fact is: earning a living at what you do is tough. And if someone puts their hand in their pocket for you - that’s a pretty big thing. Whether it’s them coming on a workshop or tour with you, or buying your books - it means they are supporting you.

I would therefore like to extend my thanks beyond those of you who have bought my books. I wish to also thank those of you who have chosen to come on my workshops and tours over the years. I realise that for all of you, you had to take a leap of faith and hope that I would be either a good teacher, or that I could at least offer something worth going home with. I am fully aware of the risk it has been for all of you to commit, and I thank you.

To all of you who have helped contribute to me doing what I do, I can only thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Bruce.

Uncovering the story in my work

Working on an image by image basis is what most of us do. Indeed, I think any other way is hardly ever considered. We tend to think of images as stories in their own right, and collections of our work tend to be location based : 20 images from Iceland, 34 images from China, etc, etc.

I’ve been more interested in the sum of the parts of a collection of work, than in individual images for a while now. I think I can find more about who I am as a photographer, when I put sets of images together.

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I find several benefits of working on portfolios, or collections:

  1. By placing the images side by side, I find that the edits of one image inform another.

  2. Some images push others further on in their development. I realise that some images are under-produced and need further work to bring them up to the same level as others.

  3. I see my style of photography become more evident through this process.

Point 3 is the most important for me.

Most workshop participants who are wondering if they have a style often say something along the lines of ‘I don’t know if I have a style’. I know I have a style in my work, because I have found portfolio development instrumental into forcing me to see where the relationships and themes are in what I do.

There is an underlying story to our work. It’s sitting there in plain sight of us, but it just needs us to look at our work in a different way. Rather than working on images on an image by image basis, I’d recommend trying to find collections that sit together well. They tend to inform me about where my recurring themes are, what I tend to do a lot of, and how I use tone and form. Portfolios are teachers. It just takes us a little effort to put together work in such a way where it flows. We can learn so much about who we are as creative artists, and where our strengths and weaknesses are.

Uncovering the story of my work has been hugely instrumental in pushing my own development forward. Few of us enquire, reflect upon our work in a collective way. We tend to look at images one at a time, and to me, this is like looking at single words at a time. By putting the work together we form paragraphs and by collecting portfolios we put chapters together. This form of assemblage, after some time, begins to write a story of who we are and what we’re trying to say with our photographs.


Photo tourist or photo artist? Which are you?

I think there are two kinds of landscape photographer:

  1. The photo artist

  2. the photo tourist

The photo artist is someone who wants to show others their view. They are looking to find their own voice, to show others what they saw and felt.

The photo tourist loves to visit really beautiful places and come home with mementos. They are happy to go to a well known location and make their own version of a well known composition. They enjoy being outdoors, seeing these rare and special places and wish to capture a good photograph, even if it may be a ‘cover’ of a well known composition.

eight different photographers, eight different ‘cover’s of a well known composition. All valid, all beautiful efforts in their own right.

eight different photographers, eight different ‘cover’s of a well known composition.
All valid, all beautiful efforts in their own right.

In the past decade, I’ve seen a massive rise in photo-tourism. Indeed, some of the photographic-tours I have run in the past have now become overrun with photographer-tourists. Take for instance the set of photos above. Eight photographs by eight photographers. All are a ‘cover’ of a well known view of the town of Hamnøy in the Lofoten islands. All are very nice images in their own right. The view is from a bridge and each morning during the months of February and March the bridge is often crowded with photographers - all making their version of a well known composition.

For many of us, reproducing a well known composition is a lot of fun. It’s simply enjoyable to be out there, and to come home with some nice images from our travels is great.

But, I am left wondering if when we take photos of a well known location, particularly a well known composition, whether we really understand that the only reason why we are able to capture these scenes, is because someone else found them for us? If you had been living under a rock for most of your life, and someone took you to Lofoten, would you naturally gravitate to a well known composition unaided by someone else’s photographs?

I don’t think so.

So which are you? Are you a photographic-tourist, or a photographic artist? Are you more interested in just coming home with beautiful, if unoriginal photographs of a well known place, or are you more interested in trying to find your own point of view, of trying to show others what you saw and felt?

I realise that it’s really really hard to find original compositions. It’s also much much easier to follow others. But when we follow others too much, we lose the chance to find out who we are and to show others what we saw and felt. This of course, may not be everyone’s motivation in making photographs: many of us just simply enjoy being there, and making images. It’s irrelevant to some of us whether the work is original or whether we are making our own version of a well known scene. If we enjoy it, then that’s just great.

We all get something out of the photographic experience and indeed, we can all learn a lot by copying well known compositions. They often teach us so much, that I think there is great value in imitating the things that inspire us. It’s just that we all need to be honest with ourselves when we’re relying too much on someone else’s ability to see a composition, and just how much further we have to go to find our own view.

Finding our own view has never been an easy task. Indeed, good photography isn’t easy. Nor is it something we master in a short while. Good photography is about being an individual, of being independent, of showing others how you see the world. Good photography is a life-long endeavour of self improvement, of development. Sure, go ahead and copy well known compositions if they make you happy and you learn a lot from the experience, but at some point, we should try to leave the well beaten path and start to show others what we saw and felt. That is why we should all photograph: to show others what we see.

Being original is hard work. The things that really matter in life often are.

Enjoy your journey :-)

Going Backwards

Somehow, sometimes, I feel as if I’m going backwards.

I take this as a message. A marker, a notice: “Do not pass this way again" - this is old ground.

We all know when we’re repeating ourselves, or when we’ve outgrown something. I think that feeling one is going backwards is a perfectly normal part of creative progress. To move forward we have to feel that where we are right now, isn’t good enough any more.

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In Patagonia

I’ve just finished a tour of Torres del Paine national park in Chilean Patagonia. Thanks so much to everyone who came and shared some time with me :-)

Image courtesy of Mark McClure, tour participant 2019.

Image courtesy of Mark McClure, tour participant 2019.

I’ve been coming here since 2003. It is my favourite national park by far, simply because I feel I have history with it. Some places get under your skin and become part of who you are, and I think shape you as a person through the experiences you have with them.

So many wonderful encounters ranging from Sabine, my guide who is such a lovely person, to seeing Puma’s on just about every tour I’ve done here in the past 5 years.

The park is changing quite a lot now. As is the case with everywhere else : things are busy. Too busy.

So many photographers now, and tourists. We are living in a smaller world.

I’ve been running tours now for 10 years and I’ve seen so much change in that time. Airports have expanded, tourist numbers have gotten larger, and there are more photographers. It is becoming harder to have a solitary experience in the world’s famous places.

Scotland is overrun with tourists. Lofoten is overrun with photographers in the winter. Iceland is the same. Everywhere that has a magnetic pull, is now no longer the idea of the sole traveller but the idea of the many. Having that solitary experience is becoming less and less a possibility.

Image courtesy of Mark McClure, tour participant 2019.

Image courtesy of Mark McClure, tour participant 2019.

Much like the hiking community, a set of principles, a code of conduct would be very welcome. I feel that things are changing and park guidelines are becoming more and more restrictive.

I’d love the national parks to consider the dreams and wishes of all landscape photographers, but at present many of the rules and regulations are going in the opposite direction: things are becoming more restrictive. This is of course to save these places from the increasing footfall they’re experiencing.

If we want to get the photos we want, we have to cooperate as best as we can: we all have to be the best ambassador we can for the photographic community. I don’t know what that might entail and far be it for me to suggest, or put some thoughts forward on this.

In the meantime, all I can do is go out into the world and care for it: realise that it is a precious thing and that I represent the photography community at large with my actions. Act responsibly and try not to put the pursuit of my photography above everything else.

I wish for all of us to consider that regulations are becoming much tighter, and if we want to continue to photograph these special places without too much restrictions, we need to go lightly, and with much care into the world.

Wood block painting, Romania 2019

A dear friend has just mentioned that this photo looks like a wood block painting. That makes me very happy as I love to abstract in my photography.

Romania-2019-1-1.jpg

Most of my images from this year were shot with a 250mm lens and a 2x converter. This one was more - it was a 250mm lens with 2x converter and also a 1.4 x converter. I often saw groups of objects together that only worked from where I was standing: get closer and the group would disperse or something would get in the way of the shot.

Many thanks to Florin Patras for being my guide this February. Such kindness, and I can’t thank hm enough.

I just started work on my new Romania images, but I’ve run out of time. Off to Patagonia tomorrow. Hope to resume the Romanian journey once I get home.