The joy of photographing

I’ve started sorting through this year’s photographs to find my ten favorite. I do this every year for a post just before the new year. See my past annual posts here.

I made more images this year than in any year before. But a lower percentage of them were good.

In 2020 I have used photography as a distraction from considerable stress. It hasn’t been only COVID — it’s also been family and work stress, at times intense. Sometimes it’s been too much to cope with all at once. Getting out with a camera let me take my mind off it for a while.

I photographed near home a lot; since I’ve been working from home, I’m here a lot. But I’ve also made some short trips just to make photographs. Whether by car or by bike, the trips themselves fill my bucket. I explore and see new places, or familiar places at different times of year. I especially enjoy the scents — the sweetness of new spring flowers, the freshness of mown grass and hay in the summer, the earthiness of fallen autumn leaves. It’s even been interesting to feel the weather: hot sun, cool overcast, rain.

Holliday Road Bridge

Wherever I stop for a photograph, I spend time with the subject. I get to know it a little by walking around it looking for the best angles. I enjoy it most when I’m in a remote place where others are unlikely to encounter me. I’m so self-conscious with a camera when I’m in public!

Central Indiana Telephone Co.

I photograph what seems interesting to me in the moment. Frequently when I look at the resulting images I see that the subject wasn’t that interesting after all, or that I couldn’t find an interesting way to see it. But it’s fun to try to find that interesting composition.

Maybe it’s just gravy when I nail a composition. I get so much pleasure out of simply using my cameras — the ones I’ve kept, anyway, after thinning the herd. I’ve shot my Yashica-12 a lot this year, and the more I use it the more I love it. Given that it’s a TLR, it’s a big brick in the hands. But its form factor fades away as I work the silken controls to control exposure and make the subject crisp, as I look through the magnifier built in over the focusing screen.

I’ve also shot the Olympus OM-2n often. I only got it this year and am still getting to know it. But that’s fun, too, when something about a new-to-me camera delights me for the first time.

I love it when I get a roll full of beautiful images. But even when I don’t, if I enjoyed everything about all the previous steps, I have no reason to be dissatisfied.

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23 thoughts on “The joy of photographing

  1. I should follow your example and get out more for photography. Work has been crap for a number of reasons and I’ve been unhappy about this and that. Getting out more might be the ticket. I often complain that I can’t get anywhere interesting because I don’t have a car, but maybe I just need to go to the regular places more often and look harder.
    Inspiring post. Thanks.

    • It does become tedious photographing the same things over and over — all I’ve figured out to do is look for details rather than broad shots.

  2. DougD says:

    Looking forward to the top ten! I’ll admit I haven’t shot a roll of film in over 20 years, but my rule of thumb was if I get one GOOD shot per roll I’m doing well.

    I think you’re doing better than my rule of thumb.

  3. My images are always better when I feel connected to the moment, when I am actually feeling something whether it be joy, sorrow, wonder or whatever. That said, my pictures this year show how disconnected I feel most of the time because they haven’t been especially good.

    • What I’m working on is making a good photograph no matter how I feel. I hope I can use that to learn to be more effective and useful when I’m down or upset or whatever.

    • Darts and Letters says:

      as an aside here, I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit, your pictures have been great, IMHO!

        • Darts and Letters says:

          Sorry my note came off differently than what I intended. while I don’t think either one of you or Jim give yo9urself enough credit :-) I meant you in particular, Brandi after I saw what you wrote about your pictures showing how disconnected you feel most of the time because they haven’t been especially good. I think your pictures have been pretty great and that you’re selling yourself short. But that’s just my opinion

        • Oh, sorry, Darts and Letters! That went completely over my head! Thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words.

          It seems like every day requires effort to feel engaged with the world around me and I notice many changes in myself and how I approach things. It’s good to know you still like the photographic evidence. :)

  4. Hi Jim,
    same here, as end of the year is nearing I have to look for 12 nice images for my next year calendar :)
    As I make more images than all the past years, this will not be easy … we manage it by some kind of speed dating ;)

    Seeing your Yashica images reminds me that I have to care way more for my 6×6 cams and there are still some rolls of film in the freezer.
    My OM-2n joined my on a trip to Crete last year and I only used a 24mm lens there – it was so relaxing, working with that combo. Once you get used to the shutter speed ring, it is somehow intuitive using it.

  5. Darts and Letters says:

    that second Frame is neat, it’s so historic looking and it took another glance before I could see the building is historic and not the exposure. It’s just ghastly when they put the radio dishes on the side of things like that. But still, I can appreciate the architecture. I like your idea about picking out the best or favorite pictures of the year, I’m not sure if I’ve ever done that.

  6. I really neglected my photography this year, as most of it is travel related. I need to do way better about finding and shooting the beauty close to home <3

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