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Aloneness

Creative Inspiration is revealed to me in the stillness of solitude.  I withdraw for a brief time to contemplate.  These little respites –  walking, coffee breaks, cigarettes breaks and time spent alone in a bar with alcohol are a few incentivizing activities done by millions to facilitate reflection, problem solving, prioritizing and observation. A person outside a tavern standing, smoking a cigarette or a person inside a cafe nursing a cup of coffee – both humans possess unique thoughts, regrets, problems and expectations.

Taking time to clear my mind or reset my focus is not an easy task. I watch a cat . The cat simply exists. It sits and instinctually reacts to it’s surroundings. Humans have problems to solve, emotions to deal with. The skill of mindful meditation is not easy for me. My mind races and jumps from one issue to the next.

Everyone has a Story

I was struggling to come up with a topic to write about this month. The more I tried to convince myself that I was excited to write about an uninspiring photographic subject, ie: photographing sunsets, the art of estimating or how I got started in this crazy, kookie business, the less I wanted to proceed. I let it rest. I did nothing.

As I was editing a section of conceptual images, I noticed that I have many that are of a lone person engaged in waiting or what appeared to be doing exactly what my cat does: simply existing in the moment. Of course, the thoughts and concerns are not possible to foretell with a still photograph but that is precisely why I find images like these compelling. I look and speculate on what that person has going on in their life. What are they thinking about at that moment?

An element that is ubiquitous in the world today is the smartphone. Aloneness without the crutch of phone engagement is a rare sight. In the image above, the main subject is aware of his surroundings, existing in the moment, (as uneventful as that might be.) The woman on the left is lost in her smartphone world.
The idea of aloneness or solitude has always been appealing to me as a photographer. The paintings of Edward Hopper have been an inspiration. The revelation I have, in thinking about this subject – being present in the moment, is that the temptation to mask reality by grabbing my smartphone will most likely always be there. It is an arresting sight to see a person waiting, or simply standing and existing in the moment where they are. (I DO see it in checkout lines at the grocery store and with smokers outside bars.)

Appreciating the Mundane

The majority of life is routine: doing laundry, paying bills, preparing food, putting the dishes away and so on.  As a photographer, I try and pay attention to the “non Facebook moments”.  Everyone loves a sunset but what about the carpeting leading up to the waiting room in your dentist’s office?  Or the intricate painted fingernails of the checkout person at the pharmacy? I realize that images I capture, even of the mundane, are enhanced: shadows/highlights, skies, contrast, saturation.  I don’t apologize for that.  My challenge is to cultivate an eye for recognizing the everyday beauty of the world around me.  Hawaii, of course is beautiful.  It always will be, but the lint  from the trap in my dryer might take an extra moment to recognize it’s magnificence! Being alone, without relying on my smartphone for entertainment, is a way of reconnecting to my observational self.  Earlier, I mentioned walking as a practice of creative inspiration.

That works for me.

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