Seems I can’t write a blog nowadays without using a quote as a title. It’s not intentional, it’s just panned out that way lately.
Frozen boardwalk to Littlehampton West Beach at dawn
More on that title quote to follow but, for now, in my usually circuitous manner, I cannot let 2017 pass without a retrospective introspection, can I? After all, it was a momentous and fortuitous year for my toggery self-esteem - but, wonderful though it all happened to be for me (so I’m not bored of it yet...), you’re probably a bit fed up of hearing about the whole El Potty thing... So that will be the only reference to it here. No, more to the point, everyone’s at it, it seems... 'My fantastic four'. 'My damn-fine nine'. 'My year in photography'. "My time off from photography". 'My new gear'. 'My chummy chums'. 'My fabulous global lifestyle'. 'My continuing whinge at life, the universe and everything…'.
Pfff... The list is mighty and fascinating, is it not?
It is said so frequently that it just must contain at least a nugget of truth: "if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em"...
Not that I'm trying to beat anyone, but you get what I mean. Hopefully.
Here's a bunch of snaps I like from 2017.
One man and his dog contemplating an incoming rainstorm at sundown, Bracklesham Bay
Twilight over the estuary of the River Cuckmere at Seven Sisters
Lightning funnel over the channel at Rustington
The magisterial, mediaeval metropolis of Carcassonne just before sunrise
Pre-dawn blue hour at low tide in the Pagham wetlands
So, really, this is just a rather late-to-the-party (the lurgy struck me down and forced an early retirement from NYE collaborations and celebrations) column of rambling, shambling, flotsam and jetsam to add to the polluted waters and littered shorelines of the digital dominion’s blogosphere - with all its best-ofs, worst-ofs and assorted retro-blatherings.
But it’s not because I have to do it, it’s because I want to do it. Truth is, I don’t even know if anyone reads my claptrap, so it's all probably only for me anyway.
Old-year investigations lead to new-year resolutions but, moving forward, rule number one does not change - nor will it ever - and it is the reason for the title of the blog in the first place (yes, get to the point, Ben...): if photography is not making you happy, don’t do it. Consider taking a break (or give it up altogether for something that does make you happy).
That being said, if you are sticking with it through its inevitable vicissitudes and challenges, you must try to turn everything you possibly can into positives - especially the negatives.
I have blogged about the negatives before:
- Lack of direction
- Poor motivation
- Artistic block
- Hitting 'snooze' on the alarm too often
All photographers, from the noobiest noob right the way up to the mightiest master, suffer from all of the above - the low points in the cycle of creativity - but if you can motivate yourself to just keep shooting through it all, negativity will give way to positivity.
In my experience, sitting at home cogitating, arguing and festering on social media are not conducive to a positive outlook - he said, whilst contemplating his PC screen and an unfinished blog...
Lenticular magenta rays of sunlight over Littlehampton West Beach sands at low tide
Being a southerner, I look in awe at the rugged, mountainous, wintry, snow-drifty, frosty toggery offerings from up north (where, despite protestations from some quarters, it's obviously not grim at all!) and from way out west, where it's wet & wild & Wales-y - and can't help but feel pangs of envy sometimes. But we all need to count our blessings, living in this beautiful, mutable island realm. Make something of where you are right now. That is key.
So, of course, the coast where I am has figured strongly in my landscape gallery for 2017. I rarely go there and wish I was somewhere else local to me. It's got it all; solitude & mindfulness; calmness & drama; simplicity & complexity; big skies & big seas; pastels & primaries; I never tire of it.
Chichester Channel at East Head
The images in this blog are some of my personal favourites - but favourites have a habit of switching around, don't they? As the wonderful Imogen Cunningham (when asked which of her photographs was her favourite) famously replied: "Why, the one I'm going to take tomorrow, of course...".
So it is that these posted here are all pretty representational of what's been feeling right for me when I've shot them.
Like all of us, I look back over my early work and wonder what on earth I was doing sometimes…
Geez. What was I thinking?!? (Will I look back on this blog next year and think the same, I wonder?)...
But the commonality to it all, the good, the bad and the ugly is that it has been a positively reinforcing journey. When you persevere on the journey, you experience personal growth. The more you practise, the more you refine the work that’s meaningful to you. The more meaningful the work is to you, the more fulfilled you will be as you practise; the more practised and fulfilled you become, the more your positivity will infuse your creativity. The more your creativity infuses your work, the more you strive to enhance it and the more you enhance it, the more robust and eloquent your portfolio becomes… And so on… in a continuous rotation of self-motivational reinforcement.
Looking back over 2017, it has been a happy and rewarding year of toggery for me. Not simply because of the (subjectively, obviously) artistically satisfying stuff I feel I’ve created, but because of the people I have met, taught, learnt from and shot with; it’s been an immensely fulfilling twelve months all round. I have been immeasurably inspired by the hugely talented community of togs on Twitter, daunting (is that a typo? should it be 'taunting'?!) me with a daily bombardment of extraordinary, unique and inventive images - it's a veritable tsunami of brilliance that inspires and intimidates in equal measure... You know who you are!
And a happy and productive 2018 to you all.
"Pale Yellow Dot"
Serene seas and coastal marker buoy at sunset, Bognor Regis
Tidal pool at sunset, Littlehampton west Sands
Langstone Harbour, Portsmouth
Looks serene - but it's Storm Brian scouring the dunes (and my kit) with a 60 MPH sandstorm at West Wittering Beach
Doesn't look serene - it's Storm Brian battering Newhaven Lighthouse...