Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Photographs not taken

I very rarely go out without a camera of some sort but this morning I decided to go out for a walk and deliberately leave my camera at home. You don't always need to have your camera with you - in fact there are times when I think I pay more attention without it, as the camera can get in the way of looking and make you not fully aware of being in the moment.  Conversely, there are days when this is patently untrue and having your camera with you seems to heighten your observational powers.  But this morning, I stepped out unencumbered and despite initially regretting my impulse, I eventually stopped wishing I had it with me and concentrated on what my eyes could actually see.

At every turn a new vista opened up before me and I found myself not only looking but listening more carefully.  Some of the photographs I didn't take, which you will just have to imagine:
  • A dark and mysterious pond surrounded by huge, creaking, twisted willows
  • An owl flying low between the trees
  • A tumbledown brick farm building, its roof gaping and brick walls collapsing 
  • A drake with a harem of a dozen ducks peacefully swimming on the water of another pond, ringed by reeds and bulrushes.  As they saw me, they rose up in unison and flew directly towards me and over my head
  • The leaves from the row of huge lime trees in the village eddying and swirling along the road in the wind
There is actually a book called The Photographs Not Taken  - a collection of essays by photographers who instead of using the normal method of making a photograph, made one using words instead 'to describe the memories and experiences that didn't go through the camera lens.....mental negatives which depict the unedited world and the moments of life that do not exist in a single frame.'
I'm not suggesting that as photographers we make a habit of abandoning our cameras but it doesn't do any harm to leave them at home once in a while (and I'm sure the world wouldn't miss a few less images!).  Of course, you risk missing the unrepeatable shot, but there's always tomorrow.....

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