Friendships with Commas

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A long-time friend once said to me, “We have a friendship, with commas.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means that, no matter how much time has passed, we pick up our conversation where we left off. There are no “periods” in our friendship timeline.”

This memory floated into my thoughts as I was reaching high above my head to capture a photo of a flowers.

What I love most about flowers is their willingness to bloom, without receiving anything in return. There is no quid pro quo. They bloom because that is what they were meant to do. They arrive in season, without commas, welcoming us to enjoy their moment in the sun.

Georgia O’Keeffe wrote: “Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

May our time be fill with many commas.

Join me in walking in the St. Albert’s Botanical Garden. You need to take a rain hat, because it is raining!

The Art of the Story

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Halifax Trip 2003

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Photography is about storytelling – told without the inconvenience of words.

A few years ago, I purchased an inexpensive digital camera to document a family trip.  I confess that I gave the camera very little thought; in fact, I left the instructions at home, deciding to take the “point and click” approach.  I would never consider embracing the title of photographer.  That designation was left to those who carried tripods and huge cameras with impressively long lenses.  While I admired the tenacity and dedication of shutterbugs hauling heavy photography gear, I considered the apparatus an impediment to any adventure that I planned to undertake.

Halifax Trip 2003

Sailing on the Mar II

And then something happened along the way.  I heard the story.  Despite my haphazard approach to taking photography, with every shot I captured a moment in time that would never be repeated. And therein lies the mystery; for photos allow us a second look, a recollection of an emotional response, a reminder that we have lived on this earth.

Photos bring the narrative of the moment, insulated from the noise of the present.  With a simple click, we stop time.

“These people live again in print as intensely as when their images were captured on old dry plates of sixty years ago… I am walking in their alleys, standing in their rooms and sheds and workshops, looking in and out of their windows. Any they in turn seem to be aware of me.”

Ansel Adams

Going Mobile

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“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” 

 Susan Sontag

Coventry St. Michael's Cathedral Spire

Coventry St. Michael’s Cathedral Spire

This blog has a simple mandate – to share my photos and random thoughts as they come to me during the day.  My camera is a Canon SX 240 HS with a zoom lens 20X.  I confess that most of the time it is set on automatic so that if I see something, I simply “point and click.”  Over the past few years, I have gained a greater appreciation for photography and those professionals who master the techniques and innovative technologies being developed in rapid succession.

These past four weeks have reaffirmed that photos are a record of the lives we live, a cultural reflection of our time in history.  They form the collection of memories of our generation – fashion, food, architecture, transportation, work conventions and family structures.  We owe a great deal to the photographers of the past.  They didn’t have our digital cameras and they worked with harsh chemicals, yet their photos are a testament to their commitment to witness and record history.

In my recent travels, I embraced mobility via the iPhone. Initially, I thought it would be a good back-up, just in case my digital battery expired or I ran out of space on my SDHC Card, both of which happened.  My ‘back-up’ launched my “point and click” methodology into a new realm where communication merged with photography.  And this is when I had my “ah ha” moment. We intellectually understand that mobile allows multiple stories to be shared, exchanged, amplified and integrated within seconds, across a global world.  It is quite another matter to experience it first hand as an active participant.

Robert Frank once said, “Above all, life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference.”  Our ability to take countless photos does not diminish our responsibility for telling our story, for taking our place as a witness to our history.

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

Dorothea Lange

Tell the Story – Change the World!

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“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”  Lewis Hine

For most of us, photography is a hobby that entertains and gives us a beautiful memory to share with friends and family. There are others who use photography to change their world. Lewis Hine (1874 – 1940), an American sociologist and photographer, used his camera for social reform. His heart-rending photographs of children working in deplorable conditions helped change the labour laws in the United States. Now that is a beautiful memory to share!

Things will happen!

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 “If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.”

Jay Maisel 

If anyone knew how to make things happen it was Jay Maisel.  His photography career began in 1954 and gained  momentum simply because he was “out there.”  His remarkably diverse portfolio incorporates famous people like Marilyn Monroe and Miles Davis, magazine covers including the legendary swimsuit covers for Sports Illustrated, jazz albums and annual reports.  His signature talent was his ability to capture the light, colour and action found in daily life.

Joy Maisel amassed numerous awards over the years, but he is loved for generously sharing his knowledge via lecture series.  He is inspiring a new generation to make things happen.

Floating Homes, Granville Island, Vancouver

The First 10,000

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“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Henri Cartier-Bresson

With our digital cameras, we have no problem reaching the 10,000 mark.  I wonder what our next 10,000 will turn out like?  Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French photographer was an early adopter of the 35mm format.  Considered to be the father of modern photojournalism, he is known for his remarkable candid shots and his contribution to the development of the “street photography.”