I haven’t been blogging every day, which maybe defeats the purpose of my photo project — but I have managed to take at least one photo every day but one so far in 2012. Some things I’ve noticed: some days, I feel a relief when I’ve caught an image, like I’ve checked off something on my “to do” list. A few days, I’ve jumped out of bed at 10 pm to capture something, anything, because I’ve forgotten during the day. Some days, there’s nothing I notice at all, and can’t find myself that “mindfulness” space I’m really aiming at — I rely on the quirky or the completely mundane, snap something rather than trying to truly see it, photograph it.
The photo of B, my ex, on our “date” to see Warhorse last week was one of those. When I don’t use the flash on my Lumix, darker shots are grainy. I notice this annoys me, as though the Lumix should behave exactly like my Canon 7D. It annoys me I haven’t figured out how to use it well, yet.
I rely on food a lot to provide me with images — and find that I can really contemplate some foods, really pay attention. Salmon and asparagus and risotto last week.
The strawberries on the weekend were a little less successful. That’s because I was actually trying to photograph them while video chatting with Finch on the weekend. That was a combination of *trying* to notice while doing something else (hardly mindful!) but not wanting to wait because I wanted to *eat* the strawberries. I think I defeated the purpose of mindfulness there.
The light isn’t bad there, but I could have paid just a tad bit more attention to the background. Looking at this also makes me notice that I really dislike my coffee table.
Some images are just documentary, shorthand reminders of the day I lived. Last Friday, I didn’t feel well, and hauled myself out for a 1 pm meeting. First I was rained on, then I was splashed by a speeding car and puddle water got in my mouth. Then I waited for a streetcar for 20 minutes in the rain, then when I got to St. Andrew’s subway, got down the stairs and was turned around immediately as people stampeded out of the station, hauling bicycles and babies and luggage up the stairs because Union Station was flooded with sewage and the system was shutting down. So I trudged up to my meeting in the rain, late, and was greeted with a pair of dry scrubs, and a blankie.
I should have photographed the blankie, the true emblem of that day, but I had forgotten my lumix. But I meandered home and paid homage to hope for sunnier days, and stopped at Patagonia and bought sundresses, a bathing suit, light trousers for our trip to Brazil in July. Then when I got home, snapped — badly — the bag of clothes. I can’t always decide if I should just shoot what’s there or actually create a display, somehow. This time, what was there wasn’t so interesting.
Sometimes the markers of the day are human, but photographed like objects. Here, I was studying the sky and the progress of the crane just metres from my balcony, waiting for the building to hit the next story and block my late day sun. But there wasn’t anything very interesting in the sky, visually, so I wheeled around and snapped my sister at my counter, poking in her email on her way to my gym. She exercised, I didn’t.
The flash was a bad idea there, but I liked her in vague silhouette, part of my landscape, not foregrounded.
When it works on ordinary days — not when I’m traveling or seeing the miraculous — when it works, I stop and notice. Saturday, I worked all day, bookkeeping and other tedium. It rained, more monsoon, unrelenting. Then at 7, I decided to take myself out for dinner, and wandering my wet neighbourhood, noticed these petunias. Open, vibrant, wet.
I stayed with them for a while, crouched down and among them. A little overlook-able bed of annuals, next to a flat dull parking lot behind a small stadium. Open. Letting me open up a little. And that’s what it is at its best, this project, slowing me down, asking me to really see and be present where I am. A contemplative practice. Even when the photography is mundane.