Serious Bass Notes

I have been mulling over a phrase in my head whilst being unwell the past few months: ‘Impact Image.’ What elements of a photo connect with the viewer, why do some pack a particular visual punch?

This photo is a favourite of mine. Why? The intensity of the bassist’s stare towards my lens, whilst the musician is simultaneously engaged in an exercise he no doubt has performed thousands of times: the art of tuning one’s instrument. Ask any of us who have played in bands: tuning is an art that requires precision.

Power in the Performance

There is power in this monochrome image for me–power in the bassist’s stance, his stare and the pose that demonstrates he owns his space on that stage.

In contrast to the above standing-still bassist captured in black-and-white, I quite like this in-motion bassist shot I took during another gig shoot. His faraway-look expression, his cherry-red instrument and the curiosity ignited as to why a tag fluttered from the bass in time with the music.

Self-tagged Bassist.

There can be no underestimating the powerful momentum that bass notes inject into a tune–particularly in live performances when the crowd echo back to the band the energy of their bodies keeping time with the rhythm, swaying shoulders to a bass riff, tapping feet and absorbing the rich tones of grooves produced on four, thick strings.

Blissful bass.

DBI

Haiku You

This month, moments to grasp for my own self have been fleeting. No time to draft rambling poetic stanza or collate my photos into albums…but I did source a few nuggets of time to merge poetry with images.

The brilliance of Haiku should never be understated in its concise beauty of word entwined to conjure up an engaging story, a provocative image, an emotive feeling or simply joy in seventeen syllables.The brilliance of Haiku should never be understated in its concise beauty of words entwined to conjure up an engaging story, a provocative image, an emotive feeling or simply joy in seventeen syllables

I do not begin to post that my sporadic Haiku musings, accompanied by my photos, serve as anything other than a creative outlet for my oft-foggy brain. I defer to the Haiku masters of Matsuo Basho, Kobayashi Issa and Ravi Shankar and others. Yet, there is a creative release I recognise in myself simply by visualising the story in one of my photos and wishing to convey its depth with narrowly-chosen nouns, verbs and (considered a writing-crime by some) the inclusion of adjectives.

Off to ramble, start

The woman, the wheat, the walk

Into bramble, end

Women, stomp your boots!

Imprint soles on dried park earth

Leaves, grass—smile to self.

Study in scarlet:

Thameside selfie, young yet poised,

to upload, to share.

Freshened eyes today — time to go twist words around my photos. Thanks for reading. DBI

Everyday Delights

Life in lockdown has adjusted the spotlight on my life: what works, what doesn’t work and what the hell am I working on?

Nine weeks into isolation, my unachieved to-do lists runneth over and my bank of 70,000 photos remain uncatalogued. My expansive collection of books still boast coloured spines in haphazard rows across haphazard shelves. And my plan to finally burst through my self-imposed creative blocks is now a shameful mess of unachievement. Am I too hard on myself?

Today, I am readjusting the spotlight and refocusing the lens. I am being kinder and forgiving to this here creative. There have been small victories in lockdown which have not merited enough attention. Returning to blog again today, I begin with shining the light on one small step forward.

On a recent whim, I was prompted one morning to drag my feet and camera out of metaphorical, paralysing sludge, and submit to Shutter Hub‘s call for submissions. To encourage photographers to connect and show their work online during these isolating times, Shutter Hub has created an online exhibition of photos documenting lives lead in lockdown, entitled ‘EVERYDAY DELIGHT’. And what a delight it is!

As I work to revitalise my portfolio and return to work, I am grateful and proud that Shutter Hub accepted my submission for this exhibition ‘showcasing photography that discovers the beauty in the everyday, finds the magic in the mundane, and looks for the joy in the small things.’

Shutter Hub’s exhibition also reignited my motivation by reminding me this: it only takes one spark to light the fuse for inspiration–that when you feel stuck and void of energy, the fuel to sizzle the fire within you to wake up and take action, can be found in a fleeting glance at a post you saw whilst drinking your morning coffee. The other lesson? Stop telling yourself you cannot do it or no one wants to look at or read or savour your creations. There is a place for you as an artist in any medium–you simply need to shift the angle of the lens.

Perhaps that’s what drew me to submit to this exhibition–my alignment with the blurb on Shutter Hub’s website, enticing photographers to submit their work:

In a world where we seem to have more to worry about every day it’s not always easy to find the positive view, but we are hoping that this revisit to the EVERYDAY DELIGHT theme will give viewers something to think about and to focus on temporarily, and perhaps to come away seeing things differently.

I am seeing things differently today. I invite and encourage you to visit the EVERYDAY DELIGHT exhibition to transport yourself for a few minutes into a visual collection where one can glimpse the world of others’, as seen through their own lockdown lens.

Thank you for breezing through my musings today. DBI

Street Smarts

For decades, Street Photography has undeniably been producing fine images of life captured in the moment—often urban, often off-the-cuff lens-pointing. Indeed there are masters of the art: Maier, Tomatsu, Koudelka, Friedlander and a multitude more whose shots captivate the viewer. But what defines Street Photography?

I throw this question out because recently I’ve been reading rather harsh criticism of what some folk deem to be Street Photography ‘frauds’ and, after following their online comments, I wondered who gets to be the judge on such things?

In an age when so many of us feel separation-anxiety when not armed with a smartphone, there seems no bounds as to where and when and who can serve as a subject of a shutter-click. I, myself, have noticed when strangers take my photo on the street. In one recent encounter, a number of tourists stopped and asked me to remain posed next to a statue so they could take my photo (I put that down to my impact-statement couture cape!). That moment left me wondering where those photos ended up—on someone’s Instagram or blog? Surely my face is out there in the ether.

The rules are that a person can photograph another person without permission as long as it is in a public place. I hold my hand up to doing this, and often am left feeling a tinge of weirdness when I do take that photo of a stranger, as if it is invading the privacy of another, that it is voyeuristic and really should a human not be able to exit their house without advanced notice they may be snapped for the world to see?

The merits of Street Photography could be debated at length. It’s a subject I would like to post about in future musings; for now, however, I return to the initial premise of this blurb: what exactly is Street Photography?

Search online and the definitions are varied. But the critical whip that I virtually observed being snapped at a targeted few this week prompted me to consider the negative comments, which were that (and the author of this criticism was unfaltering and unapologetic) Street Photography has to include a person in the photo and it has to include their face, shot from the front. The critical commenters were adamant that facial profiles are weak excuses for good photography and that the greatest violation was photographing the back of heads. It seem that even if the photographer aimed their camera at the posterior of Prince William’s distinctively balding cranium, gliding down the mall at Buckingham Palace, the entire shot would be pants because the resulting print did not show Will’s nose. Is this true? Is only a full-frontal acceptable in Street Photography?

I also wonder: does the photo have to include a person? If the photographer strolls a street and a building depicts an interesting story, the windows reflect neglect or the architecture fascinates. Is that Street Photography or simply Urban Landscapes?

Who knew Street Photography would sizzle the camera community. There surely is an abundance of Street out there—I wonder if now, with the infiltration of iPhones and their ilk, that the Street Photography definition should be definitively categorized but remain under this general heading. After all, Street Photography is mostly candid, not posed. So must these photos be labeled Candid? Should Street Photography be tagged as such on Instagram if the photographer is shooting randomly in a pub? Or on a bus? Buses and pubs are situated on streets but I note that there is much debate about these locations being deemed Street Photography so must we tag these photos as #buspics and #pubportraits to avoid backlash from photography trolls?

My purpose here is not to debate but to question and widen the discussion. I like to consider the photography community as a wide-open space where all are welcome—amateurs and professionals. I marvel at the creativity and ingenuity of photographers out there. The pure genius of those who edit masterfully in PhotoShop or Lightroom, neither of which applications I employ but that’s my preference at the moment. Instagram and Twitter are abundant with brilliant black and white photos, there are portraits that provoke debate and landscapes that take your breath away. We are multi-talented, multi-coloured, multi-cultural celluloid hub.

I do enjoy shooting on streets. It’s not my main artistic focus but there is a beauty in the everyday around us—the impactful black building, the back of the heads, the silhouette in motion and the full-frontal. I consider them all Street Photography, telling us a story via visuals. Within this post are a few recent pics of London I captured from all four of these angles. They speak ‘street’ to me.

Have you ventured this far? Thanks for reading. DBI

Playing Cupid

Are you sending a Valentine to someone special today?

Shops are filled today with bright pink cards speckled with red hearts, angels pinging arrows to spark passion into another’s heart.

Even if you are lucky to stare into the eyes of someone you adore today and say I love you, giving a card may be inject an extra boost of joy, kindness, love and a means to tell another soul that they are dear to you.

Cards are keepsakes to me–the ones I receive and the ones I design, shop-bought cards and homemade creations, the simple and elaborate.

When designing a greeting card, it’s a welcome challenge to consider an alternative to the usual. A lovely Valentine is not just a card that screams I LOVE YOU!

I hear from people they also want to give angel cards to their loved ones. Cupid, the god of love and affection and passion, would be delighted!

Have a lovely Valentine’s Day! DBI

Connection is Key

The beauty of black and white photography lies in its bare-bones simplicity, the effect of which stripping colour from an image only increases impact.

Boosting the impact of images can be achieved easily by clustering photos into a collection.

This trio of photos is a particular favourite when exhibited together:

At the heart of each photo is connection—to thread them together boosts that connection deeper.

I love each of these images for the time and place I shot them, for the subjects, for their message.

Connection.

Connection is key.

DBI

Spring is Springing

Ask the ducks. They’ll tell you—spring is springing.

Albeit slowly, spring now tentatively nudges feathered friends out to play on a Sunday afternoon.

A good sign. A hopeful sign.

Brighter days are ahead.

Listen to the wise, ole ducks frolicking in the pond, bright yellow beaks prodding brown hens. Ignoring iPhones snapping their photos, children pelting them with breadcrusts, nearby swans competing for prime aquatic real estate. 

This photo was a fleeting moment captured: some birds with bills saluting the sky, others with heads bobbing for food.

I envy their simplistic life.

I wouldn’t want a swan at my back but an afternoon of playful swimming sounds quite lush.

Have a lovely day! DBI

Wind Your Neck In

Zoos evoke in me a strong mixture of emotions–empathy for caged animals whilst grateful for the chance to gawk at their beauty. Despite this push-pull-me dilemma, I have visited a number of zoos this past year.

No denying this: there is marvel when viewing exotics in the city.

But I am also left wondering what happens when the lights go off, when the sky goes dark and an urban hum encases their surrounds? Do animals startle when a bicyclist skims by an adjacent path at midnight? Are the penguins immune to such intrusive, human calamity and just hang out in the dark?

The Dublin Zoo was on the cards last summer. If anyone has ever ventured into the fabulously-expansive Phoenix Park then they will understand what a treasured inner-city gem this enormous space is: a whopping 1,750 acres.

I got dragged to this zoo with one of my dearest friends and expected to again feel a deep-down unsettling feeling about these animals in captivity. I was prepared to grin and bearI adore giraffes but would I want to see them frolicking within half a mile of the Guinness factory?

What I did experience at the Dublin Zoo was fauna-design brilliance—true beautiful landscape with glorious banks of plants and trees, a large lake and the remarkable feeling that I was far from Ireland. Somewhere tropical, somewhere lush, plants selected with purpose and authentic impact in mind.

Yes, I did stare long and hard at two lovely gorillas. I hoped that telepathically they would sense my condolences for being housed behind Perspex for the enjoyment of gaggles of children and grown-up children all seemingly stuffing 99 ice-creams in their gobs. Sometimes the gorillas locked eyes with my own, but I don’t think they got the message. Heck—most humans find it difficult to understand me let alone wishing monkey-folk possess a speck of ESP. 

But I was entranced by the glorious giraffes, entrusting to poke their heads a metre away from me and curl their black tongues around branches of the nearby tree. Their own space was a vast area where they frolicked within their pack and said hello to the rhinos. I’m not sure they were that mad about sharing space with a beady-eyed ostriches but, hey, we all have to put up with less ideal neighbours.

I felt similarly when visiting London Zoo twice recently.

I do think of those animals when I’m not at the zoo. Usually when I can’t sleep, which is often. Do the birds tweet away all night? Is it a happy tune? How would I know it’s not a cry for help?

So, perhaps at night, when the floodlights are cut and the keepers head to the pub, all those animals are doing a dance. Or perhaps the bears are debating politics or a ferret is telling a lemur: ‘You’ll never believe what I heard today from some stupid bloke in an I heart London hat today.’ To which the pig shouts over: ‘I love it when the kids visit!’ Then they all nod in agreement.

Too whimsical a scenario to wish for?

What I do know is that I love taking photos of these animals. They are majestic and kind subjects. They are naturals for the camera. I’m not keen on the fencing but I do feel agog at their expressions, like this opaki.

Tonight I will think of them again. I’ll think about the giraffes in Phoenix Park poking their heads above the trees and staring down towards the Dublin quays that span the Liffey. Perhaps they will then confer about the changes in Ireland since the Celtic Tiger came and went, or how this month’s election is a shocker.

Perhaps the bolder giraffes may even sneak out for a wee pint then return before daylight, the zookeepers none the wiser.

To sleep, perchance to dream.

DBI

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