I was never good about taking photographs, mainly because I was always too busy doing or enjoying things to stop and think "I should get a picture of this." Plus, for a long time I didn't have a camera, and when I did have one, I usually didn't remember to take it with me. And when I would, I wouldn't use it. But in recent years, and most especially since I got my Canon Powershot S45 digital camera, I always carry it with me and try to record the world around me.
I used to have a fabulous memory. I could accurately identify 1 second edits, in a film I had seen once, when I rewatched it later on video, and be able to come out of a film quoting whole chunks of dialogue almost word for word. I could also put together songvids that needed things like the Doctor turning the page of a book, and be able to immediately come up with a story and the episode. I still have an excellent memory for sound, spotting sound effects and knowing where I've heard them before.
But my visual memory is stuffed. Well, stuffed compared to what it was. I dunno, maybe it's normal now, but it feels like it's next to useless. It makes me wish I had taken photos of some of my lovers over the years. Find it sad that now I can't remember their faces or bodies. Hell, these days I can't remember their bodies the morning after a night of passion!
And as it's gotten worse, the urge to record the things I've seen has grown. I don't hold images of what I've seen in my head so well any more. Though interestingly, I can hold photographic images there quite well. So what I used to be able to do with life and film, I can now do with still images. I may not know where I've seen it before, but I'll know I've seen it and be aware of any changes.
So yes, now I photograph stuff. I photograph it because if I need to remember any detail about it later, I won't be able to, even if it's only a short time later. I photograph things and people to help me remember what I did. I can still describe what happened quite accurately, but I don't have the scene replay visually in my mind any more, and I miss that.
I go to places many people don't get to, photographing those locations gives me a chance to share some of what I get to see. I don't travel anywhere near as far as I'd like, but it's still further than most folks get. By that I mean under their own steam, as opposed to taking planes and trains, etc. And even when I'm not traveling, I actively look for things... bugs, plants, animals, old tech, ruins, textures, architecture, etc.
I do have a reasonable eye for a photo. Not brilliant, but I can come up with a nice shot now and again, often helped by seeing things that others miss or by being places other folks don't get to. I also have the patience to spend an hour taking shots of a cicada, or to wait for the sun to rise, and I enjoy the experience. Enjoy trying to capture a look or a feel, trying to share what it is that struck me as worth capturing, even if it's just a "look at this cool thing" reaction. It's nice when other people like my pictures, too.
I don't take a huge amount with people, mainly because I'm not always sure what to do with them. I do like trying to catch the person, I love people's faces, but always feel awkward telling them how to stand, look, etc. mainly because I'm not that confident of my abilities as a photographer. I also feel like I'm imposing by asking them to hold still, or to pose. I often don't entirely know what it is that I want to capture about a person either, or how to translate what is in my head into an effective photo.
It's the reason I don't have a huge collection of nude/erotic photos. Though I think the landscape of the human body is fascinating, I don't want someone to strip off unless I'm certain I can capture what's in my head, and it's rare that I have that confidence. It would also require asking someone to remove clothing, and I'm not comfortable with that even with folks I know will have no problem, and the one or two that have actively offered to pose. Again, it's that mix of feeling like I'm imposing and not up to the task.
Most of my people shots are taken on a spur of the moment, or when they don't know they are being shot. Like the shot from the other week of the exact moment Sharon realised all the fairy floss was gone, or my shots from The Snuff Machine film shoot. Occasionally someone will strike me as particularly amazing and I'll be able to ask for a photo or two, but usually it's candid photography with people.
Interestingly, I'm pretty good at setting up a photo to capture myself. There's a shot of Tiki and I in a cave, taken on a 15 second exposure. It's a great shot. And I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do to achieve it. Only took two goes, and I had my photo. I've done that sort of thing a few times, including getting someone to take a shot of myself, knowing how it'd come out. I just can't do it with other people.
I don't like flashes, and avoid them whenever possible. Means I get a lot of blurred shots, but that when one works out, it looks the way I want it to. Rare I get that with a flash. Plus most standard in-built flashes flatten the image or wash it out, which is especially problematic when you're trying to capture faces and skin. All the subtlty of the textures and lines are lost.
But I am enjoying photographing stuff. In the couple of artshows I had photos in, I've sold most of them, which is nice for the ego. And more recently I've had my Cafepress site up and running. Tiki and I set up a site a little while ago, but this one is exclusively for my photography, and eventually my art (if I get my arse into gear). Had a sale on my insect calendar the other week, so that was nice :)
So yeah, I'm loving my happy-snapping!
This one sort of compliments a few other subjects I want to talk about down the track. They are all interrelated in their own ways, but this one came up due to my thoughts over the last few days. I hate being coerced into doing something. Being made to feel that I should do something I'm not comfortable with, either through bullying, guilt, or just circumstances. And wherever possible, I try to be mindful of not doing it to others. I may not always be successful - my personality can be somewhat overwhelming at times - but I try to be aware of it. Always have tried to be careful of it, especially since I was on the receiving end once and it permanently impacted on an area of my sex life.
It happened with one of my lovers while we were traveling. I was at a point where, health-wise and emotion-wise, I wasn't up for sex. I was feeling really flat and all I wanted was to enjoy her company, just cuddles and talking. It's incredibly rare I'm not up for sex, as many of you will have gathered, but I was feeling really out of sorts and uncomfortable with it at that point. She was an amazing lover, I was just in the wrong place for it, emotionally. I wasn't up for it with anyone.
She was pretty patient but eventually pushed me to have sex, which I did. I really didn't want to, but felt guilty, like I had no choice, that I'd let her down if I didn't. If she'd taken some time and gently seduced me, things may have been different. If it had been a few weeks earlier or a few months later, things would probably have been different. But she pushed me in the wrong way at exactly the wrong time. Now I enjoyed the sex, it was nice, but it's years later and I still have no desire to have sex with her ever again. I still like her and think of her as someone very dear to me, but it basically made me feel that my only value was carried between my legs, and that has killed any desire I have for her. That is the over-riding emotion I carried away from that single event, which is a terrible shame for both of us.
Coercion happens in fandom with cons and committees, too. I saw this recently when baralier commented immediately after C4 that he may one day run a Continuum, but didn't feel he was ready yet. A few people started joking with him and telling him that he was running the next one. I avoided it and even made a point of telling him that if that was the way he felt, he shouldn't run the next one. Given that I started the ball rolling on Continuum, I didn't want my words making him feel he had to take a course of action that he didn't wish to, even in jest.
Personally, I think he'd run a great con, but given he's only recently returned to fandom, I want him to feel free to choose when or if he ever runs one. I have had a few people say to me, in a semi-joking way, "Oh Paul's running the next con." I've made a point of saying every time that he said he may run one in the future, but not the next one. The problem with the joke is it can take on a life of its own, and people start to believe it. Next thing you know, Paul's feeling pressured to do it, and that's simply not fair. If Paul turned around and said he wanted to run C5, great! So long as it's his decision I'm all for it. And if he chooses never to run one, well that's fine too.
What made me think of all this was someone I like offering to show me her breasts in response to the previous 100 Days post. The concern came down to the feeling that now that it had been said publically, she would feel she had to follow through, even if she wasn't up to it. Now she may not have felt that way at any point, the concern was purely my own, but it's the sort of situation where it can easily happen. Someone says something jokingly, or semi-seriously, and then are made to feel like they have to follow through by the pressure of others. You know the sort of comments that can come up - "Have you shown him yet?" "You said you'd show him."
And I don't like that. Once or twice is a joke, more than that is unpleasant.
If any of the ladies who answered in the affirmative in regards to showing me their breasts were to do so, I would rather it be because they were comfortable with it, not because they felt they had to.
It's very rare I have the confidence to ask someone outright to do something major. The way I try to approach most of these situations is to make it clear where I stand or to let it be known that there is something I would like i.e. If there's going to be a Continuum 5, someone will need to come forward by March. I figure those that are comfy with the idea will let me know in their own time or when it comes up naturally.
Yes, it can backfire because there are those people who will say "Oh, he wouldn't want me," so it certainly has its problems. But it also means that the person has made their own decision, rather than having it made for them and then going along for the ride. I started Continuum. I didn't want to but someone had to and I was willing and able. No-one made me, it was my decision. I'm proud and happy with what I've done because it was my choice to do it.
If I had been made to, I'd probably have hated it.