Monday, 5 August 2019

The Indecisive Moment (indecisive photography in Vancouver)

Last week I was in Vancouver visiting family - always a special time. 

Hiking, paddleboarding, swimming and childminding. I loved it all.

Being in the city is always a challenge photographically. I am conscious that I haven't made any new 'work' recently, after aborted trips to New Zealand and the USA, and am feeling a little pressure to come up with some new ideas.

I think the only idea that I came up with after a week of wandering was that of the 'Indecisive Moment'. Indecisive in that I couldn't really find anything new to say about the city or its beautiful parks and forest. Indecisive in what style of photography to go for. And indecisive over how to process what few images I did make.

Henri Cartier Bresson described the 'decisive moment' thus;

 “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.”

This is the absolute antithesis of how I work in most of my photography. A tree doesn't walk, or a flower run. Dead seaweed, the subject of my recent book 'findings' lies quietly on the sand, unmoving.

I don't usually wait for a special moment; I am not a street photographer, or a sports photographer, lying in wait for that moment when everything before the lens comes together to be captured as something unrepeatable. I am not a fan of seeking out sunsets and sunrises; waiting for moments of glorious light that may or may not arrive. 

I am a walking photographer, capturing what I find along my way.

I did try a few minutes of street photography on the waterfront at Coal Harbour, out of sheer desperation.

I achieved very little as I was shooting from the hip, being discreet, and mostly got photos of hips as a result.

 Later I tried being even more indecisive, by photographing the same scene over and over, waiting for something to happen.

 This was more fun, but the camera got confused and the people walking past were out of focus.

walkers, Stanley park, vancouver

So then I played with grids of multiple photos; each imperceptibly different ffrom the last.

This satisfied my desire to capture multiple indecisive moments, and also my love of the geometric.

But not that interesting really.

multiple moments grid

I tried indecisive birds.

They behaved beautifully unpredictably. I kept my camera still and waited for the ducks to move into the picture.

They did.

But they couldn't decide which way up to pose for the camera.

waiting for a duck



I tried moody black and white images in the forest. Tangled dead trees and people walking along forest paths.

dead tree, beaver lake

walkers, stanley park, vancouver

walkers, stanley park

 At the botanical gardens I enjoyed the rhododendrons and hydrangeas.

I was indecisive about how to capture them. Multiple exposure, regular exposure or black and white. I tried them all.

multiple exposure mess

hydrangea flower

hydrangea flower

I think this last one is my preferred option; regular colour photography. No blurry bits. Just the sunlight filtering through the petals.

I tried night photography from my balcony.

night scene, Vancouver city

Not a great success. I won't show you any more of those.

My favourite image from the trip ( apart from family photos of course) is this one of kitchens.

As I spent a lot of my week cooking it seems entirely appropriate.

I think the moral of this story is 'don't try so hard'.

Wait for the right moments to come along.

And if you are feeling indecisive, then it is probably because you are busy doing other things -  I was being a grandmother and mother for a week- something that gives me even more pleasure than photography.

And this week I am back being a photographer, preparing for my show at Rye Art Gallery.

It features some very decisive moments, as you would expect.

Conversations with Nature at Rye Art gallery

I hope to see you there!