document your life

2 minute read

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” — Elliott Erwitt

I want to document more. To become a better photographer. Inspired mostly by Simon Sarris’s post.

A way of seeing

I used to be of the opinion that taking photos takes you out of the moment. But I’m coming to realise, that pondering a photo allows you to see with greater detail

You are paying more attention to visual stimuli. Noticing how the light falls on the subject, how colours intermingle and mix, and how framing creates a narrative.

Simon Sarris talks about how one should document the mundane. It allows you to see details that you once took for granted. To pay deeper attention to life. Observation is a skill you can develop and train. It is a rediscovering of the ordinary

Narrative building and posterity

I want to create. Write fiction. Photography is another medium I can do this. As they say, a picture paints a thousand words.

I enjoy going through photo books. Possibly for the same reason I enjoy writing in a journal. It’s a way to craft the ‘story’ of a life. Your life is a narrative you create, most of it is up to your interpretation. This can be incredibly useful as it allows you to reframe events such that you suffer less.

By taking photographs, I can capture a moment of time. A echo of photons etched onto a digital sensor. Another reminder perhaps of impermanence. And then the magic of memory can ‘fill in the gaps’ to whateverinterpretation I want, to choose to specific ways of remembering.

Take more photos

Approaching 26, I think I would regret not documenting more. More importantly, I want to cultivate certain ways of seeing. Paying attention. Stephen Batchelor writes about this way of attending and how it “leads away from fascination with the extraordinary and back to a rediscovery of the ordinary”.

This YouTube video captures the idea of ‘documenting the mundane’ :

Delete more photos

Paradoxically, you want to delete 90% of the photos you do take. I struggle to delete, so I instead just curate. Pick a few good ones. When you look back, you only need one or two to remind you of a moment.

You are not seeking to capture every single event that happens. But more bring back the ‘feeling’.

We do not remember days, we remember moments - Cesare Pavese


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