It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.” ~ Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson is renowned for his “tired of London, tired of life” quote but the above is more pertinent to combating boredom with photography. Certainly, I miss London for many personal reasons but also, and not least, its grand photo opportunities – the street scenes, the architecture that looms across the centuries, right up to the never-ending construction sites.
Now in a small rural town there is none of that ready-made impact and hence my camera has mouldered much of the time like that of a disconsolate child. “Go and play outside” was an oft heard command from adults when boredom was detected and so I’ve begun to do just that, turning the lens on what is there – the landscape, the garden, the park, interiors and so on.
Photography boredom is inevitable and comes to us all. I’ve become a bit of an unhappy snapper with DSLR, even out of auto mode (film is too complex for my lazy technical know-how and I eschew the iPhone for various reasons). It’s not the equipment though that can be blamed (but I do think the latest Ricoh GRiii will make a very nice gift for next year’s milestone birthday).
A bored photographer inevitably produces boring images. I’ve realized that in close-ups I focus too much on focusing rather than seeing with a fully interested attention. These may just be ordinary things, those we might pass by without a second glance, those that have nothing remarkable other than their own existence in space and time. And those that we see so often and for which we’ve lost all admiration.
I read somewhere that finding a way past subject-object boredom involves just looking for as long as it takes until seeing takes on a new dimension, which is why I’ve turned again to “The Slow Photography Movement” as well as being inspired by Liam Frankland’s “Lost and Found Photography“.
Aside from seeking ways to inject novelty back into subject matter, I’ve switched to a different frame mode, currently favouring the longer, sleeker 16:9. It works in portrait too with a Dutch angle for those more awkward reflections.
In short, I’ve gone from the grandstanding scale of a cityscape to the smaller and subtler, and must look longer to see further into the remarkable that is all around us. If photography boredom resonates with you readers, I’ll be posting a second part in the near future. Watch this space!
How to cope with photography boredom