Friday, September 30, 2011

How to stop conceptualization

You are writing excellent comments, and I'm often quite at loss on how to answer them. Yesterday Francesco asked: "[R]epetition and predictability of results are not in contradiction?"

I think there is a kind of contradiction, and in fact this question made me ponder for a long while what it is that is really happening when I'm taking photographs. Even though I take on average about 200 photographs each day - and in the last two months I have taken more than that, over 20 000 photographs in all - most of these photographs are in fact taken in clusters.

Namely, I stop to take photographs, and then I take several in quick succession, which means anything between 1-10 photographs within ten seconds of so. And all this time I try not to think about taking photographs, just drop in the flow and let the photographs happen.

It often doesn't go that smoothly, but sometimes it does, and this is in fact quite an enjoyable feeling, a bit like connecting to the world on some fundamental level below conscious thinking.

Thus, going for a walk and taking photographs is a way of pressing a "pause" button in the head. This may be why I feel so attracted to it.

As so many people these days, at work I'm dealing with highly abstract concepts, such as "what are the key policy issues related to cloud-based service delivery for higher education institutions".

In fact, it is worrisome that I can easily generate such phrases but have difficulties remembering the English names of common trees.

What is problematic about such conceptualization is that it is extremely hard to switch off the machine that goes on and on in the head. You are almost never connected to now; instead, you categorize, classify and objectify.

But here I have found that photography helps. At least it happens more or less every day that I can have long moments when there are no concepts running around in my head. Instead of abstract speculation, I'm perceiving the world.

And after going for a walk and taking some photographs, I feel much calmer. The machine is not stopped, but it is better controlled.

I'm not sure whether this answered the question or went completely off-topic. But for me it was a good question.


Andreas said...

Excellent answer, regardless the question :)

I absolutely love #4, "Rowan". Beautiful light, wonderful depth, masterful twig photography :D

Juha Haataja said...

@Andreas: It was one of those wow! moments, spotting that stand of ... aspen (I almost had to look the word up;-) in evening light, and the rowan was as if flying in the wind.

Francesco said...

Many thanks for the answer. Your approach is interesting: it seems to me like letting photgraphy discovering the nature surrounding you.

Juha Haataja said...

@Franceso: There may be a danger of too much immersion in the visual perception, though. Smell, touch...