Photography: The Practice of Making the Familiar New

Earlier I shared a quote by William Thackery about the two most engaging powers of a photograph.

“The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new”

As a photography enthusiast I think that capturing something new is part of the passion.  We all want to get that shot of something people rarely see or, if we’re lucky enough, something no one has ever seen before.  We go to new corners of our cities or travel to distant shores to capture the new.

But what about breathing new life into the familiar of our lives?  Thackery’s quote got me thinking about how I can use the familiar to become a better photographer.

It isn’t easy to make the familiar new.  You’ve got to position yourself both physically and mentally in a new place to see the familiar differently, to envision how we can portray it differently, and thus make it new.

As we begin 2017 some are thinking about new photography projects and others may be thinking about resolutions.  Endeavouring to make the familiar new could be a great project to improve your photography but it can be so much more.

Looking at our every day lives with fresh eyes and capturing it from a different perspective may well give us a renewed perspective on our lives.  It could be a creative practice of mindfulness.  You may find you are surrounded by more beauty than you were aware of and you may see all the things you can change to make things better for yourself.

Wishing you all a prosperous 2017!

Macaneta: Bridging The Gap

Macaneta is cut off from the mainland by the Inkomati river.  People make the trip out to this rural area to spend time on the beach.  It’s a very natural, sparsely inhabited place where cattle roam the wetland close to the river and its community have to make daily trips to the city and surrounds by ferry for everything they need.

The ferry is pretty iconic around here because if you’ve visited Macaneta you have undoubtedly spent some time waiting in line to be ferried across the river.  It isn’t a very large ferry either – it only carries 6 cars at a time and takes about 20 mins to make the crossing.

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A new bridge is set to replace the ferry that wanted to die ages ago.  The community have had to make their way to the mainland by ferry or boat for a long time and this bridge will be life changing for them.

The bridge brings a lot of advantages that could not be foregone but as I looked through some photos from a few years ago I had to wonder how it will affect this little nature paradise.

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Instagram Discovery #1 Brice Portolano

I discovered Brice Portolano through a Lens Culture article; Arctic Love: Way, Way Out in the Wilderness in which Portolano talks about the beginnings of his No Signal series of photo essays.  The photos in the Lens Culture article are from his Arctic Love photo essay which is one of four in his No Signal series.

Arctic love

A post shared by Brice Portolano (@briceportolano_) on

“With over half of the world’s population living in urban areas, man has never been so disconnected from nature and the open spaces.  Through the photography project ‘No Signal’ started in 2013, Brice Portolano documents the return of man to nature in the western world and the reflections surrounding this issue.” 

The hauntingly beautiful images from Arctic Love led me to his website where you can see the rest of this project and his other work.  Ultimately I ended up on his Instagram feed to follow him and his work and you will not be disappointed.  The beauty continues there and I believe you will enjoy following him as he continues to share images of his projects and travels creating a captivating Instagram feed.

Why Your Next Holiday Should Be A Roadtrip

Going on holiday is always exciting.  I love holidays and while flying to your next destination often means you can travel to more distant places much more quickly there is something special about loading up the car and hitting the road.

Here’s why making your next holiday a roadtrip will be good for the soul:

  • You have complete control over your journey.  You decide when to leave without imposed delays and you get to avoid the chaos that is airports.  Come rain, come shine, you can get in your vehicle and head off on your holiday.
  • Solitude or together time.  Whether you’re heading out on your own, with your partner, or your family you get the solitude you need to recharge, think, and enjoy me-time or you get to spend some quality time together without the interference of distracting everyday stuff.  There’s no TV or wifi and while you might have to put up with a few cell phones or tabs (depending on what rules you choose to impose) it’s still a chance to be together where no one can just get up and leave.
  • Seeing the country is a great benefit of roadtripping.  Seeing the land shift and change along the way is beautiful and gives you perspective on where you live and what’s around you.  It feels like you really are seeing the world when you cross country that you don’t normally see.
  • You can stop whenever and wherever you want.  You can plan a trip hour by hour but I guarantee that if you travel by car you’ll find something interesting that you hadn’t planned for or didn’t know was there.  This is one of the absolute draws of roadtripping because you get to discover and enjoy new things, places, and people.  This is especially nice for nature lovers because every now and then you’ll find a particularly special spot in nature which often isn’t on the map.  Pull over, grab some snacks, and spend an hour in a new spot.
  • Once you get to your destination you have a car to explore the area even further.  Obviously you can rent a car in other situations but that can be an extra hassle that you might not want to take on.  With your own car you’ll be much more inclined to spend a few hours away from your accommodation or resort to see what else the area has going on and like I mentioned above you may discover some amazing stuff that you hadn’t planned for – you just never know.
  • It inspires the adventurer in you.  With the freedom of hitting the road in your own car and an open itinerary you may feel yourself open up to the spirit of adventure.  Invigorating and fun, this is exactly what you need to relax and come home refreshed and inspired.

Get out your map book and plan a trip somewhere new.  Get your car ready.  Hit the road.  Simple as that.  Don’t forget to leave some time open to explore, discover, be a bit spontaneous.  I guarantee you’ll have a great time.

Review: The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

I sat down and read this book cover to cover in an hour.  It is a fabulous, thought-provoking, and inspiring book filled with drawings, word art, and great advice.  In the way it is written and designed it gets you thinking practically and creatively.  I found it part inspiration and part workbook which was very helpful.The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna Review

The GoodReads blurb: “Who hasn’t asked the question “How can I find and follow my true calling?” Elle Luna frames this moment as “standing at the crossroads of Should and Must.” “Should” is what we feel we ought to be doing, or what is expected of us. “Must” is the thing we dream of doing, our heart’s desire. And it was her own personal journey that inspired Elle Luna to write a brief online manifesto that, in a few short months, has touched hundreds of thousands of people who’ve read it or heard Elle speak on the topic. Now Ms. Luna expands her ideas into an inspirational, highly visual gift book for every recent graduate, every artist, every seeker, every career changer.  The Crossroads of Should and Must has a universal message—we get to choose the path between Should and Must. And it gives every reader permission to embrace this message. It’s about the difference between jobs, careers, and callings. The difference between going to work and becoming one with your work. Why knowing what you want is often the hardest part. It gives eye-opening techniques for reconnecting with one’s inner voice, like writing your own obituary (talk about putting life in perspective). It talks about the most common fears of choosing Must over Should—money, time, space, and the ultimate fear: total vulnerability—and shores up our hesitation with inspiring stories of and quotes from the artists and writers and thinkers who’ve faced their own crossroads of Should and Must and taken the leap. It explains the importance of mistakes, of “unlearning,” of solitude, of keeping moving, of following a soul path.  Presented in four chapters—The Crossroads, The Origin of Should, Must, and The Return—inspired by the hero’s journey outlined by Joseph Campbell, The Crossroads of Should and Must guides us from the small moment, discovering our Must, to the big moment—actually doing something about it, and returning to share our new gifts with the world.”

As the title suggests this book is great for people seeking their life calling and for people who are at a crossroad in their life and not sure what to do next.  This short book will guide you through sorting through the basic questions you need to answer to get to the root of you and begin to formulate small actions you can take to move forward.  Luna’s idea isn’t about making a decision and making an overnight transformation.  It is about the process or journey to your ‘Must’ which is far more achievable and sustainable for us all.

I loved the quotes throughout and I especially liked the questions Luna asks you to ask yourself and the suggestions she gives for what you can do.  I made a few notes along the way and brainstormed my answers to the questions she poses in the book.  Reading this book was a great exercise in working out my direction.  This isn’t a book about abandoning your job to pursue your passion without a plan.  This is about helping you work out how you can live your passion and pay your bills.  But at the same time it proposes that you not be afraid of a path which has no easy answers or no set guidelines.

For no other reason than to know yourself better I recommend this book; from its questions which get you to examine your Shoulds so you can know your prison, its prompt for you to define your must-have money vs. your nice-to-have money, to creating your ‘what-are-you-so-afraid-of’ list, you are bound to learn something about where you’re at and where to next.

A lovely book to boost your life and creativity for anybody and everybody.

 

lilolia review rating 5 stars excellent

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New Year, New Goals: Setting Goals for a Mindset Refresh

We are two weeks into the new year.  By now many people have already defined their new year’s resolutions and a few may already have given up on them.  I like the idea of resolutions but I tend to prefer goal setting at the beginning of the year.  Rather than focus on things I want to stop doing I like to focus on what I want to achieve during the year, where I want to be by the end of the year, and what I need to do to get there.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

I think what’s important is not so much the goal (although achieving it would definitely be wonderful) but rather the mindset we get into by thinking carefully about what we want and how we will get there.  Getting your head into the right gear at the beginning of the year is a powerful way to let go of the year just ended and prepare to be open for the new.

I’m not sure that looking back over a year and judging it as either good or bad is the right strategy for life.  There is no doubt that some years leave us drained or depressed while others have filled us with joy and hope.

“And just as he who, with exhausted breath, having escaped from the sea to shore, turns to the perilous waters and gazes.” – Canto 1, lines 22-24, The Inferno of The Divine Comedy by Dante

The quote above is how I see looking back at a tough year.  You got out alive and there’s much to be grateful for in the lessons we learn in tough times.  These make us stronger and prepare us for greater challenges.  This, too, is important as is happiness and prosperity.  Another quote I like that often helps me see what I initially perceive as a tough year as part of the greater picture of my life is from Zora Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God:

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

If last year wasn’t the year you hoped it would be, don’t worry.  Everything is preparation.  Get out a fresh, blank piece of paper and think about what you want to achieve and what kind of life you want to have.  Then write down the things you need to do to get there.  Be specific.  Each day you can work a little more on completing task after task until you get closer and closer to where you want to be.

Last year I asked questions about where I am and where I wanted to be.  It was about coming to a realisation that I wanted a drastic change and that I needed to take risks to get it.  This year I have a better and clearer idea of what I want and the steps I will take to get there.  Among the many changes I will try to bring about this year the main one is focus on developing skills that will better help me to express the creative side of myself.  I will be taking courses in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, focusing on developing my photography, and working towards creating better content for digital publication.  Doing these things will bring me joy and satisfaction because essentially my goal is to do more of what makes me happy and not put any more time into doing stuff that doesn’t fascinate and inspire me.

What are your goals for this year?