The Truth & Beauty of Me – Relationships

Photography affects us like a phenomenon in nature, like a flower or snowflake where vegetable or earthly origins are an inseparable part of their beauty.Andre Bazin. (1)

As I progress with my project I intend to explore the affect photography has on us. As sentient beings our senses have a function to protect and sustain us. They are continuously seeking information that is useful to us. Andre Bazin’s quote captures well how we do respond to photographs. They are as magical as a flower or a snowdrop. From a psychological perspective I will consider our cognitive and decision making processes to investigate how I can trigger those in a viewer to hold his or her gaze on my image. In addition I will explore the brain’s need for a story to show how I can keep the viewer further engaged in a set of my images. My reference work for this will be Daniel Kahneman’s ‘Thinking Fast and Slow. (2)

The above will be background to my work. In this module I intend to explore relationships with, to, around, within and outside me. I will continue to explore what is true and beautiful about me through a lens looking at what is and is not related to me.

This sets the framework for the images I am creating. I have a starter set of 12 images and wonder if any of them will be there in December for the work in progress submission. The journey begins and is most of the fun. The first relationship that attracted me was that we have towards death. This bird lived and is now dead. When we see such an image live it triggers many of our defence mechanisms. Am I in danger? Do I need to do anything to protect myself? Did the bird have a happy life? Where has it gone?

What happens when I place the image of the bird next to one of me? There is some immediate Gestalt pattern recognition as we map the shape of the bird to the shape of the slit in the cloth. What else is prompted? How are the two related? I could say even living things die one day. We all die one day as previously we did not exist. There is so much wrapped up in this as we cling to our limited understanding of time, consciousness and reality. What if the world isn’t flat and time doesn’t flow in one direction? Food for thought and work to do to make sense of this complexity.

There are so many tensions in life. How can I be suicidal and happy in the same month? Am I helping myself with my own opinion of myself? Am I a failure for not finding a cure for the illness my wife has? Clearly that is ridiculous but it is what my mind says. How does this show up in the relationships between me and not me?

There are tensions out there beyond me also. I clasp my hands together but as with barbed wire can they be unwound with the right tools? Are the tensions in my own life of my own making? Can I find ways with my images to remove the chains I place upon myself?

Every day we walk through doors. Does all of us get through? Do we leave bits behind? Our thoughts pull us this way and that. Part of us is in the dark while other parts move towards the light.

Are we made of wet clay that can still be shaped to make things better or are as we age do we set in to an unescapable form?

Do we see a golden elevator door that can take us where we want to go but as we press the button the doors never open?

What a lot of questions. Now to set to work on getting some answers. For this module I want to look hard at what each image I am producing is saying. If it says nothing then get rid of it. I also want to look hard at how my images work together. If they don’t find new connections and ways of linking them in a narrative way. I begin with these 12 with the journey being most of the fun and where the learning will come.

References

(1) Bazin, A. The Ontology of the photographic image. In Classic Essays on Photography by Trachtenberg, A. Leete’s Island Books. 1980.

(2) Kahneman, A. Thinking Fast and Slow.

Categories: Contextual Research SP, Project Development SP, Sustainable Prospects

LEN

I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
decisions.

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.