A while back one of my good friends, Helen, challenged me to shoot something in my own backyard. I had the best intentions of doing it at the time, so I had written down what I was supposed to do and then, as life gets in the way, I had forgotten about it. Going over some old notes, I was reminded of the assignment and so I thought I would participate. Apologies to Helen for taking all but an eternity to get this done but this, Helen, is my take on what my backyard looks like.
Now, I realize some of you might be saying, “but…but…I can’t see anything!” I never promised I would craft an image of something you “can see” rather I promised I would take a shot. There’s an actual difference between those two tasks. As a photographer, I’ve always felt I don’t have to limit myself to the “real” world, although there is an element of the “real” in every image we take. To put this another way, just because we bear the albatross of reality doesn’t mean we have to constrain ourselves by it. Ive always felt our vision should know no boundaries. Because somebody is expected to see what something “looks like” doesn’t mean we have to craft a reality that’s close to what they might be expecting. Apologies, but that’s just not the way art works (well, the way I practice it anyway.) To put it bluntly, you get what I’m dreaming, not what you think you want to see.
Another interesting thing about the assignment “shoot in your own backyard” was that it was, quite literally, the very first assignment I was given as a photographer. It’s also an assignment I always love doing. There is this notion out there that in order to be a photographer, one has to travel to the ends of the earth and bring back shots from outer Mongolia, otherwise, well, it just isn’t shooting. While I love traveling and would love nothing more than to traverse the world several times over and over again, it is entirely within the realm of the possible to craft wonderful images just sitting on your own couch. Now, it might require some imagination, some vision, some craft, but, truth be told, going on that trip to outer Mongolia and coming back with great shots also requires same. It’s just that, you know, outer Mongolia might have a touch of “oh, that’s what it looks like!” which may, or may not, be lost on the home couch. I guess you could call this “the away court advantage.” It doesn’t really make for better images, although, at first glance, they might look like better images, they really are only the same images just taken “over there” as it were.
Now, those of you who know me know that I live in a very boring part of suburbia. It’s quite dull actually, although it’s close to town and allows for ease in terms of getting rations and the like, not to mention it provides me ample space to be able to participate in activities such as painting in the garage or setting up a small studio in an extra bedroom. Yes, my home looks boring and dull and, well, quite suburban in nature but I’m ok with that. It’s my little comfort zone and, when I’m not out trying to find outer Mongolia, I enjoy it as best I can. I try to, you know, make the most of it and all. Had I shot what you might have been expecting, why you’d see a tree or two, maybe a rooftop, a back porch, quite possibly the dog sitting in the yard, you know, the typical suburban stuff. But, I ask of you, why should my world be limited to that? Again, to put it bluntly, that’s your vision, not mine.
Today, my world is filled with yellow clouds. I was going to head over to the water gardens to shoot but I got rained out so I managed to stay at home in an attempt at catching up with the piles of things on my plate right now. Nevertheless, the yellow clouds remind me of my own backyard, how I might see it anyway. I hope you enjoy them.
Until next time…