An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of art & life ...

An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of life ... or just ramblings from the mind of a working Mum with far too little time to think!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Live a life that matters

My father sent this beautiful poem to me. He found it on the Poetic Expressions website, a wonderful source of inspirational words and a supporter of Marie Curie Cancer Care. 

They are profound words that made me consider my life and what is important to me. They are words that we should all read from time to time...

Live a life that matters
Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
 All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
 It won't matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.

It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant
Even your gender and skin colour will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
 What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
 What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance, but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Painting with Light

A good friend of mine is a florist. She creates the most wondrous bouquets and floral designs, and every now and again she calls to ask whether I require "any new resources to photograph," as she so eloquently puts it. We meet at a flower warehouse close to the city where most of the florists in the know go.

It is the most amazing place! Freezing, as all the flowers are stored in sub-zero conditions, but the colours and the varieties are incredible - it's like stepping into a Matisse painting. Each time I meet her there, there are different flowers, many of which I have never seen before, and I feel like a child in a candy store - like Alice in Wonderland!

Last Thursday was one of those times. The warehouse was filled with wonderful winter flowers, some of which I had not seen since my childhood in my grandmother's garden in Africa. There were even roses from Kenya - still perfect after their long journey to Australia! I left with armfuls of gorgeous striped tulips, bright poppies, red gold arum lilies, blue delphiniums, gold Kenyan roses and beautiful yellow irises. I could not wait to get back to my makeshift studio to start photographing!

As I work exclusively with natural light, my tiny photographic studio consists of a white waist-high bench top set against a long horizontal window fitted with opaque glass. The room is small and narrow, actually our walk-through dressing room between our bedroom and my office, but the soft, filtered light is perfect for shooting in daylight hours. It is where I do all of my indoor macro work.

Lately, I have been experimenting with using my macro lens and the ambient light to create brushstrokes of interweaving colour in my images, as in abstract paintings. I was inspired to 'paint with light' after listening to the piano and orchestral music of Claude Debussy. For me, Debussy was so much more than a musician. He painted with music. His works have the most beautiful colours woven through them and such incredible light and sensitivity.

Last Sunday, my daughter and I were privileged to see the wonderful violinist Joshua Bell in concert with the Academy of St Martin's in the Field Orchestra. Joshua Bell was mesmerising, as was the orchestra. The notes that emanated from his violin were so pure, so heavenly, so captivating, so emotional - almost like he was painting the sound of feelings with his music.

I would love to be able to achieve that level of feeling with my photography one day.
"There is not a single true work of art that has not in the end added to the inner freedom of each person who has known and loved it." ~ Albert Camus

All of the images in this blog were part of my 'painting with light' experimentation, and all were taken in my mini-studio with flowers from Thursday's visit to the flower warehouse. Most of the flowers are still fresh after five days!

No doubt, I will be spending quite a few more hours shut away with this unexpected treasure! And in the meantime, all the rooms are filled with fresh flowers and my house has the fragrance of a spring garden.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Power of Pictures

Photography is a purely visual medium. It is about communicating a story, a feeling, or an emotion, through pictures. It is about releasing the shutter at the precise moment when everything comes together and the communication works. Sometimes, it’s just pure luck, but mostly it is seeing something you wish to share and working out how to capture it.

Unlike painting or drawing where you create the work brushstroke by brushstroke, photography requires either the pre-visualisation of the image before it is composed and captured or the ability to recognise and capture that "moment of magic" when it appears.

So much can happen in an instant. Sometimes, an opportunity presents itself serendipitously to the photographer, and other times, when composing an image that has been visualised, another image appears and the final image captured is nothing like what was first imagined.

We take photographs to tell a story, whether it is to convey the innocence of a life not yet lived in a baby, or the absolute joy of being a curious young child, or the intricacies in design of the macroscopic inner world of nature, or the magnificent architecture of a cathedral or ancient building. There are so many stories to tell, so many pictures to take. "My camera is my tool. Through it I give a reason to everything around me", said acclaimed photographer, Andre Kertesz.

Photography is a visual language, understood by all people, in all cultures and in all parts of the world. It bridges the differences between us and connects us with each other. It serves to illuminate social injustice and it allows us to share in each others' lives, hopes, dreams and despair.

Pictures have the power to change our perceptions of the world and to stir our consciences. They are capable of capturing the voices and feelings of their subjects and have the capacity to generate the deepest of human emotions in the viewer. There are many single images that are able to tell the story of an entire event, giving us an almost instant understanding of that moment in time.

For me, photography has been a lesson in keeping my mind constantly open to light and colour and the way they interact and change the meaning of my images.  Seeing life through a lens has greatly improved my awareness of the world and has offered me a pathway of expression to share the many insights that I have discovered on my journey with a camera.

Through photography, the world is very definitely our oyster.

If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint ~ Edward Hopper

I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for ~ Georgia O'Keefe