Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Phototherapy for the phrazzled

TVO, which for those of you living outside of Ontario is the provincial arts and education channel (funny how I'm behaving as if someone other than myself is actually reading this), is transmitting a rather lovely series on photography. In the opening episode last week, some academic chappie was saying something very pithy about how photography is the art requiring the least technical competence, but requiring the most vision. Or something like that. I kept dozing off, not because the programme was boring, but because the show is on at 10 pm, and I'd used up my attention span for the evening on John Simm's and Keely Hawes' performances in a modern retelling of "The Knight's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales at 9 pm.

This morning, though, I was meditating on photographic competence versus vision. Well, actually, I'd just left younger daughter in a bit of a snit at school. (We were really late -- if I try to hurry her, she snaps at me --- if I try to explain that we're late, she raises her voice, then furiously denies that she was yelling...) So I was stomping back through the park below her school, really riled and bitterly sorry for myself, when I remembered that I had taken my camera along to see if I could get something anywhere near an artistic vision.

I've been aiming for mostly competence this year. In April, my family (that is, my mum, my sister and her family, and the Resident Fan Boy) banded together to get me a terrifyingly expensive digital SLR camera for my birthday, to replace my on-its-last-legs-if-it-had-any-legs aperture-priority SLR. Lovely, of course, but I sat there on that threadbare but sunny late April afternoon (April isn't a terrific month in Ottawa), fighting back the panic. I loved my Nikon EM; I know how it works. This new contraption is a thing of beauty, but so many bells and whistles... Finally, I threw on my jacket and tramped down to the river, reasoning that the only way to get over the fear was to shoot and shoot and shoot. And I rediscovered something I'd been missing for some time: the joy of taking pictures for the sake of taking pictures. Gradually, I got the courage to take the camera off auto-shoot. In the fall, a friend and a cousin introduced me to Flckr, which in effect forces me to take at least 60 pictures per month so that I have enough for my posting quota. Along with this came a sort of therapy: instead of sinking into the misery of what wasn't and isn't, I'm taking pictures of what is.

So, fighting my way partly out of the resentment and self-pity of the morning, I looked for a vision. An example is above. I don't know about its artistic merits, and I don't pretend it's visionary, but I think it's pretty damn competent. Sometimes competence is all we have to cling to.

3 comments:

Jonas Dickinson said...

Phrazzled! Great word!!!

Jonas Dickinson said...

Dear Sharon,
There is something you must learn about words. They are not static as you may think! One of my things that I know as Poet Laureate is that they are malleable that can mean what your Poetry inspires them to mean. Hope you've learned something today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Also I believe that David's eyes are also malleable to mean what you would wish! They are great eyes.
Love,
Jonas R. Dickinson
United States Library of Congress Poet Laureate

Persephone said...

Who's Sharon? Or is that my malleable name?