What’s even better than having a good friend? Having a good friend with a lovely garden.
I had actively employed these two words during the preceding “stay at home” months to try to think about things other than derailed plans, and force myself off the sofa with exercise classes. When another on-line photo class popped up with class segments entitled Focus and Movement, led by well known and very creative nature photographer Eddie Soloway, (eddiesoloway.com), how could I not sign on?
My past photography experience has primarily been the luck of being in a beautiful place where the “point and shoot” approach can’t miss. Focus and movement work is entirely different, and much more challenging for me. How does one direct focus to something in a photo while minimizing other distractions in the frame? How does one stop motion, or show motion intentionally that doesn’t just look like a blurry mistake? How does one “make” movement if none exists in the subject? I really knew very little about “creating photos” rather than “taking pictures”, and I liked playing with the camera a lot. I was certainly helped during the “stop motion” exercises by a family of ducks who arrived to live in our pool for a few days just as I needed them.
The final assignment for the on-line photography course Homescapes: A New Paradigm, offered through Santa Fe Workshops, was to photograph our “sense of self” at home. We had already completed an earlier assignment to take portraits of people or animals living with us, and I had not enjoyed that task. This assignment did not make me happy either. I rarely photograph people when traveling and never take selfies. So I worked to define who I think I am at the moment and photograph those ideas. These were my conclusions: (1) I am a housekeeper, (2) I am hiding from society, (3) I am living in a disembodied state from any earlier life; yet despite current conditions I am (4) blessed beyond reason, and (5) able to do whatever I feel like doing, enjoying my hobby on line when I can’t travel. It was another useful exercise in clarifying life at home at present.
I also include a portrait of my home companion(s), who make life much more fun.
Each assignment in the Santa Fe Workshops on line photography class entitled “Homescapes: A New Paradigm” has become more provocative. This time, our fabulous instructor and founder of the Workshops, Reid Callanan, challenged us to photograph memories of our childhood evoked through elements of our current home, and to push our photographs into more figurative than literal space. It took me several days to think about and create these photos, which need some explanation to connect with my memories, but perhaps on their own they will challenge you to look at your surroundings and find elements that are bound to your childhood, maybe in ways you don’t often consider. I found it a very interesting exercise.
The second assignment for the class I’m currently taking on line with Santa Fe Workshops was to make five photographs depicting metaphors for home, a more challenging task than the first assignment about light. It could perhaps be a photo of a coffee cup and a book, or a pot of soup, or fresh bread from the oven; whatever serves as a representation of home as I see it. Inasmuch as anything to do with the kitchen has little to do with me, I had to think about the elements I needed to create a home from a house. I submitted the following photos, which I will not explain here (although we had to define our choices in class). A really good photo doesn’t need an additional explanation. Several others in the class managed to achieve that goal; I did not.
We’ve been in our house for nearly 6 weeks now, and I’m restless. So I jumped on an offering by Santa Fe Workshops to take a photo class with one of their outstanding instructors (the man who started it in the first place) via Zoom. There are 12 of us from across the country in this undertaking, twice a week for three weeks. And there is a lot of work to be done in between classes. I have been to these workshops before, either in Santa Fe where it is nearly impossible to take a bad photo, or traveling with them to some other photographic destination, and class camaraderie is built over a week of togetherness, which is part of the fun. This experience is different in several ways.
First, in isolation at home, photo subjects seem limited to me and I am not in the company of others who are stirring my creativity. Second, I rarely really look at my surroundings and household items during the course of daily life among them. Photo assignments are always an opportunity to try to see things from new perspectives, and this class, entitled Homescapes: A New Paradigm, is encouraging me to do just that.
The first assignment was about light, and how it plays inside and outside the house, over the course of the day, in color, and in black and white. It’s an interesting new view of ordinary life. I’ll post more as classes progress and you can try to look at your surroundings in a new way too.
We were in Tucson over the New Year, and the scenery there is very dramatic. In addition to its striking landscape, an unusual cold snap brought morning frost and a dusting of snow in the mountains to enhance the effect. There is great beauty in the sky, in the San Xavier Mission, in cactus varieties, and in the sun and cloud play on the foothills. I liked it.
While there, I spent some time contemplating passages as we entered into 2019. We had two new family relationships to celebrate in 2018 (Tim & Corky, Ariel & Nate), and many wonderful moments, but the year was also marked by changes and losses, as is always the case. “Enjoy the best and leave the rest” remains good advice for moving forward, and I hope the new year settles into a productive experience of expanding enrichments, with less drama than we’ve witnessed around the world this past year. When the need for excitement arises, Mother Nature’s theatrics come with an awe-inspiring effect well worth pursuing as an alternative.