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Haven: A Place to Grow
Welcome to haven: a place to grow.
My garden is my haven - it is a space to breath, to feel centred and to create, whether by growing flowers or taking photos.
Haven is a monthly newsletter celebrating gardening, creativity in the form of photography and taking a moment. Whilst preparing what I wanted to create here, I wrote a note to myself that read:
“Petals unfurling; A bud; let it happen, don’t control just provide the foundations like you would a seed to grow- soil, water and sunlight”
That is what I want us to do here, nourish our creativity and ourselves.
Each newsletter will provide seasonal based creative nourishment which will be like adding water and sunlight to help grow your photography practice. When you see this newsletter appear in your email box, I want you to feel that you are entering your own personal haven and view receiving the email as you devoting time to your creative practice.
Before we start there are two things I want you to embrace:
“Daily Practice”- I say this in air quotes as I appreciate daily practice is not always possible but if you can connect with your garden and your camera on a regular basis you will find your confidence and skill set will grow. Also, and I think this perhaps more important, you will carve out some time during your day for you to connect with yourself.
Bad Photos - I believe that there is no such as a bad photo, just a chance to learn. Rein in your inner critic, and always look at your work and yourself with a kind heart.
This month’s theme is connection. Connection is the relationship we have between ourselves and the subject we are taking a picture of which I view as the start of taking a photo. There are various reasons why we connect with something, which we will explore in future newsletters.
Connection is such an intuitive response to something and we often don’t even notice we are doing it, which is why I want to take a moment to embrace that initial connection - that moment when our eye rests on something that speaks to us for whatever reason. When you connect to your subject you are expressing who you are or what you am feeling. It is a sweet feeling and in a way the very foundation of your photograph.
Often, once we have connected with our subject, our minds begin to race with a variety of questions. Our thoughts often turn to technical questions which result in us putting a huge emphasis on the importance of taking a good photo, and we end up losing that connection both to ourselves and to our subject. Instead of listening to the chatter of these thoughts, acknowledge the connection, sit with it for a moment. Let that influence how you take your photo, and look at taking a photo that expresses your connection rather than aiming for a technically great photo.
To help keep my mind focused on the connection, I often think of a word that summarises the connection I have made with my subject.
For example, this collection of three photos of a cosmos above are favourites of mine. I took them in January 2021 in the evening. What connected me to these flowers was the colour. I love the fuchsia pink and the white. It really pops. For me the word I would use to summarise my connection to this flower would be contrast. Using this word as my guide I want the sole focus to be on the flower colour and the background to be neutral with the flower as the centre of the image. Using a dark background pulls focus on the strong follow colour; highlighting the contrast I wanted to capture.
Once a month I will pick a favourite photo and talk a little about how I took the photo, exploring themes, thoughts, ideas and general musings that I had at the time.
Connection: My connection word for this photo would be peacefulness. There are moments in the garden that are just that - a quiet moment that is peaceful. I often find in the summer months I take my camera out into the garden in the evening and at a time when the day is done, and I am in a peaceful mood.
Wisdom: Wisdom is something we will explore more deeply in the next issue. Essentially it means what I bring to the photo. In 2021 when I took this photo, I tended to be drawn to taking photos of lone flowers, standing a bit apart from the rest. It was a reflection of how I felt at the time. I was working in a job where I felt isolated, and I see threads of those feelings in my work during this period. Despite this feeling I also see that I can still feel joy and beauty as I am drawn to the beautiful rose.
Story: Story is another topic in a forth coming issue. Story, as a prompt, asks: what is the narrative I am trying to capture here? In this case the story I am capturing is a favourite time of day in the summer. The evening is starting to fade and there are echoes of a hot day. I want to have an image that holds the fingers of summer light.
Practical : Golden Hour is a wonderful time of day to take photos. Essentially it is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. In high summer it is a beautiful time to take photos as the light is softer and more gentle than the light you will encounter during the middle of the day.
Each month I will create a photo board based on a flower, offering inspiration in flower, form, and colour.
This month is it Achillea. As noted in a recently purchased gardening book , Achillea or yarrow is “ A ready-formed posy of flowers” 1 . Achillea, I have found is an easy to grow, bee friendly plant that comes in an extensive colour range. I have a few in the garden which are of various tones of pink. The top photo in this inspiration board highlights the many hues this plant offers. Colour range makes it a great plant to return to again and again over the season, and if you use it as a daily practise model it will offer you something new each day.
Another reason I find it such a great plant to photograph is you can capture it in many different ways. In this board you can see many moods captured simply by using focus. For example, the top photo focuses on the varied colours of the plant while the photos below focus on detail of the flower structure.
Achillea is very textural which makes it a great photo to use in double exposures. The bottom right photo is a double exposure made up of two photos, one photo is a clear shot from a distance. The second shot is a blurred which is a great use of a ‘Bad Photo’.
This section is called “what do you see” and is based on comments2 I have read on the importance of developing your eye for detail. One way to develop your eye for detail is to spend time focusing on just one element, looking for it through out your day. By focusing on one detail it helps you see things you might not notice while encouraging you to slow down.
Each month an observation point will be provided for you to look for. This month’s prompt is the colour pink. Often as the summer progresses colours become a bit faded as the garden reaches it peak and then slowly starts to fade, which will mean a variety of hues to hunt out. Observe how you notice it as the month progresses and see if the colour pink starts to appear in your photography practice.
Things to look forward to….
Next issue, the theme of wisdom, we admire the dahlia flower and embrace the colour apricot.
"SuperBloom - A field Guide to Flowers for every Gardener” by Jac Semmler page 51
Source reading: “ The Widening Stream - The Seven Stages of Creativity” David Ulrich; “The Mindful Photographer” Sophie Howarth; “Effortless Beauty” Julie DuBose’