I have spent some time collecting words whilst taking photographs, or reviewing images made in the past. These are words describing the scene or my mood at the time. I noted them and now I will try to organise them into themes with explanations.
Narrative – I always make a narrative for myself when viewing a scene and I hope my viewers will do the same.
Quirky – I find quirky objects, that is objects that are out of place or unexpected can make the scene enigmatic and so encourage the making of narratives.
Abandoned, Deserted, Isolated, Remote, Vulnerable – are also words that encourage narrative especially when connected to some human construction, something built for human survival away from large communities and a social support.
Calm, Tranquil, Stillness, Windless – these are words I associate with my own sense of peace and relaxation. This is the state I have often experienced (and long for again) in locations that are Remote, Expansive, usually Treeless and almost always including Water.
I include Windless in this set because any noise, and in these locations the wind is the most likely source of noise, is very distracting and likely to prevent me achieving Relaxation and full engagement with the scene.
To achieve real Peace and Relaxation I also have to be alone and, ideally, unable to see any other humans. I need Solitude.
Sombre, Low key, Muted – are all terms that can be applied to the colour palettes of my images and my favoured lighting conditions for photography. This has nothing to do with my own mood. Quite the opposite. It is these conditions where I am most Relaxed and happy because they are so closely related to feelings of Calm and Peacefulness.
Space, Expansive, Treeless, Water – these are all associated with being able to see for great distances. Consequently, locations such as the Scottish Highlands and Islands, the North American Prairies and almost all of Iceland are favourite locations for me. I believe this may be explained by “Savannah Theory” where my need to be able to see any potential threats, from far away, is met. Conversely, I am very uncomfortable in any woodland, becoming claustrophobic and nervous.
Also, considering “Savannah Theory”, one of the reasons I seek out evidence of human construction is for the comfort of knowing my location has been or is habitable, that life is possible here and I am not the first person to try.
This has been a useful exercise in understanding myself, my own reactions to places and why I seek out particular types of location. It also highlights the conditions that suit my “intuitive” photography. If I am to break away from pure intuition towards being able to make meaningful images regardless of prevailing conditions I need to reduce my reliance on some of these conditions.
Probably the most urgent of these to address is the need for Calm, Windless conditions as these are not typical of either Iceland or Scotland. How can I reduce the impact of these distractions and so really engage with the scene, in spite of the weather?