Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben
It’s no secret that the last few days, weeks, months have been rough on my end. But today, I want to talk about something that has offered a bit of a silver lining: a newly found interest in photography.
I’ve never really thought much about photography. I know a friend who takes wonderful artsy portraits, my sister-in-law is really great at taking beautiful candid pictures, and fellow blogger Alessandra Chaves has a unique take on light and dark. I don’t have the talent these people have, though nothing but admiration for it.
Actually, it’s not so much that I found photography, but more so that photography found me.
It started with a walk in the forest, a long time ago. Over the years, I’ve always taken pleasure in noticing the accidental beauty of a fallen leaf, the sun through the trees or a particularly crooked tree. I had fun trying out different angles and compositions for capturing these little serendipities, and played with light and colour.
Lately, walking has been one of the activities that still somewhat captured my interest. I can do it alone, I don’t have to be happy to do it and it brings me a level of comfort I don’t find at home. And since my phone is usually with me (this time one with a pretty good camera thanks to my partner’s extensive research) I still take pictures, too.
The main advantage of taking photos in the midst of a depression is that it draws me into the here and now. When I go on walks alone, I generally take my head along with me. These days, it’s not really functioning that well and it keeps playing the same bad program wherever I am. But when I’m taking photos, I’m not thinking. I’m just looking. I’m looking at light, and shapes, and contrast. I’m trying out different positions and angles. I notice small things like a tiny white feather on a muddy road, a single reed blowing in the wind or a tiny robin hidden in the grass. I’m really in the moment.
One way to take a break from my current state of mind is by escaping into fantasy and fiction through TV, books or films. But this has the huge drawback that it doesn’t make reality seem more appealing, on the contrary.
Yet walking in nature and taking photos gives me a break as well. Not by getting away from reality, but by focussing on a part of reality that is simple, beautiful and magical.
I have certain perfectionist traits that make it hard to stick with something like drawing or painting. I’ll try out something and want it to look exactly like what I’ve imagined. Obviously that’s not how learning a skill works, or how you have fun.
Photography is really forgiving. You just try out some stuff, and see what you get in the end. Sometimes the photo you thought would be great turns out to be just so-so. And sometimes a picture you shot quickly on the go ends up being the best one of the day. Since it’s a new thing, for me, and I don’t really have standards I adhere to, I can be casual about this art form.
I don’t know if this hobby will stick, or for how long. I don’t know if I’ll end up sticking with landscapes or move into something else. I don’t really think about it either, for a change. It’s one of the things of my life that is not over-analysed (apart from this blog post) and that can just be for fun.
I hope you have many things like that, too!