The Truth & Beauty of Me/You

In this module we are considering photography as a business. This is timely as I have two ideas relating to my project. One is a photobook of The Truth & Beauty of Me and the other is a photography and coaching workshop around The Truth & Beauty of You.

Photobook

The WIP portfolio process has been a great discipline to produce and review work. It has also been a journey in to myself. Looking at images of myself has raised some new insights and more questions to pursue. A recent challenge from Laura Hynd to make some work without it having to represent something or make meaning was very liberating. As she pointed out the cognitive processes continue in the background whether you want them to or not.

The photobook will be a visual narrative with text on the subject of being me. It will have themes and chapters. I don’t know what these are but themes might include

  • the relationship between the surface image and what is going on emotionally and sensorily behind the facade.
  • what is reality and true?
  • what is beautiful
  • consciousness and thought

The chapters are not clear yet but to start the process of choosing some to refine and build on my first thoughts are

  • I am successful
  • I am a failure
  • I am confused
  • I am in love
  • I am in pain
  • I am

Now I will play with this and sketch out a first dummy to see if any of this makes sense.

Workshop/Retreat – The Truth & Beauty of You

Recently I was considering a week at Cortijo Romero. Friends in my mindful and meditation practice space strongly recommend this retreat in the mountains of Andalucia. One recent attendee describes it as..

“A lovely, warm, supportive, open-hearted feeling of community. A magical, peaceful, stunningly beautiful site. A great place to make real, meaningful connections with people, to make real friends.” Source

As I looked at weeks containing mindfulness, dance, music and tai chi my eye caught Ken Scott’s Mindful Photography week. Mindful Photography

It connected with some thoughts I have been having about combining my experience as a coach with my interests as a photographer to produce a workshop/retreat. As a coach I proved successful at asking the questions that got clients to hear their own answers to and from which positive change could emerge. With photography I am noticing how powerful images are in getting people to tell stories and to talk.

In my coaching practice I would say to people ‘if you have a good story about yourself then enjoy it and don’t mess with it…….if you don’t then let’s work on finding a better story and getting more out of life.’ There are an infinite number of possible stories for all of us and choosing the right one is a key ingredient for a happy and fulfilling.

I plan to start small with some 1 or 2 hour fotocoach sessions. From a coaching perspective there are my standard questions which are

  • what do you want?
  • what is getting in the way?
  • what are you going to do about it?
  • what help do you need?

The photography dimension can include

  • photographs taken by you
  • photographs taken of you
  • photographs you like

I plan to learn from some individual sessions at first building from my coaching practice. The eventual goal would be to have a 3-5 day workshop with up to 10 people in a place like Cortijo Romero. The headline offer will be something like….

‘This retreat is designed for people who want to work on a new and better story for themselves. With others we will go on a journey to explore the many possible truths, stories, about you. We will see which ones you like and what needs to be done to pursue it. We will also look at what is beautiful about you. There is a lot of beauty in everyone but we need to look to see it and appreciate it within your story.’

or…’be who you want to be, go where you want to go, do what you want to do’ is a possible tagline and an expression I have used throughout life with my children.

The retreat will include

  • guided conversations about your own story and what you like and don’t like about it.
  • talking about photographs you bring to the retreat. some taken by you, some taken of you and some that interest you.
  • exploring together what is true about your story. what is fact and what is assumption?
  • create images of you not being you. doing things you would not do.
  • consideration of what gets in the way of being the you you want to be and how much of the obstacles are put there by you.
  • the idea of a photography project around the truth and beauty of you as a way of getting towards being the you you want to be

Lots more work to do on these very early ideas and let’s see where it ends up. I will finish with some images of me doing something I don’t do. They arose out of Laura’s provocation to ‘not represent’ and ‘not make meaning’. I can assure you I have not previously danced in front of a camera to T Rex dressed in a skirt!

To be continued.

Categories: 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.