Saturday, 29 October 2011

Tools and talent

"A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said 'I love your pictures - they're wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.' He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: 'That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.' "

Sam Haskins

I think that was a brilliant way of showing where we place importance with different things. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard,

"Oh that's a nice shot! You must have a really good camera?"

"I must have a really...?! What the...?!"

I smile. I honestly thank them for their appreciation of the image. And then I think about people and our... biases.

From a purely photographic point of view, the funny thing is that the camera is the 3rd important thing. More important than the camera is actually the lens. People forget that a good camera with a rubbish lens will be like doing a tug of war with a 3 year old in your team - no matter how strong you are those teeny tiny 3 year old hands will struggle to perform to a high level!

Note we are talking about capabilities and not results.

But the most important thing, the most important thing, theeeeee most immmm-po-tant-ting ("h" not included), is the mind's eye of the photographer.

What would you rather have?
Vision or money?
Understanding or results without understanding?
Insight or happiness?

It's curious and not always easy to see the point. But one option gives instant results and gratification. The other gives the ability to know why you got results and how to get more results and develop beyond your own ability.

But to say it was all the camera...! That technology is the real skill! That I go for instant gratification without spending time on core values! I'm, I'm, going to cry.

But this happens in many other things. Most people seem to think that footballers are too highly paid. In motor racing, it's the car that does all the work. Hospital consultants earn waaaay too much. That chef is sooo overrated. (And my own personal one) Paris Hilton is rich for doing nothing.

Really? Really?

The point is not to be controversial about how much are they morally worth compared to others. The point is, do we really understand what they do and how they got to the position they did doing the things they do. Or even the things they had to give up to get to where they are. We all can only dream. I was at an event recently listening to a very successful, inspirational lady talking about how people always assume she had a silver spoon upbringing and her success is the result of an easy route. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Taken in 2007 and still one of my favourite powerful moments

A vision, insight and understanding is what we need. Even for Paris Hilton. Which I am really really struggling with!


Sunday, 16 October 2011

It's not sexual, but it is sexy.

I think I may have to lay down on the psychologist's couch for this one.

"So Angus. How are you feeling today?"

"Not bad. Not bad. But I feel I have something to get of my chest. You know, some thoughts that have been bouncing around me head for a short while."

"How short a while?"

"About 6 years."

"Ah. Ok. Tell me about it."

Deep breath.

"Well, about 6 years back, I was waiting at the bus stop and saw a woman on the other side of the road. As soon as I saw her walking... bang! She caught my attention. However... It was not in a jaw drop, eyes pop out, start drooling Homer-see-doughnut kind of way. It was more a feeling of someone that has it. Someone who is rocking that thing.

"I looked at this woman as she crossed the road. Quite obviously staring at this point mind you. And damn this woman had a sexy walk and air about her. Her clothes, fitted her perfectly. Her style, fitted her perfectly. Her confidence, fitted her perfectly. I stared at her as she took one sexy stride after sexy stride. Not too much, mind you. Not overdoing it. But it just seemed to fit her perfectly. And the most interesting thing of all, was that I was not having a hormonal response. I didn't want this woman sexually, though I thought there would be quite a few men that did!"

"Not sexually? You didn't have any sexual urges towards this woman at all?"

"Nah not really. Seriously. Seriously! Don't let me see you smirking behind that note pad! It was more like a deep appreciation of seeing someone who is confident in their own skin. Someone who may not have found themselves completely, but is confident in knowing they are on the right path.

"Ok, put it this way. If you see a hot woman or man you may think sex. I wouldn't mind some of that! Then you're off to the next thought. But if you see a hot person, who has an air of confidence around them. They have an air of, of, ju ne se qua, mixed with a dash of swagger, all wrapped together lovingly with a sense of higher purpose. What you feel towards them is not sex. Or at least not just sex. It's respect. It's understanding. It's that smile and hug you give someone when they have just achieved something for themselves and for no one else. It's that feeling you get which you can't explain that says "before me is more than what I see." That pride you feel in someone who is, well, as I said before, confident in their own skin that they are on the right path."

"So what made you come here today and chat to me? What made you bring this up now?"

"A good friend, Angel (yes really, that's her name), recently put on an event. I'm always proud to do this particular event. She started up a forum called The Natural Lounge which has kinda blown up and become very popular. Hence the event to get everyone together under one roof. It's a place where women with afro hair come to learn how to take care of their thick and curly."

The organiser, Angel, on the right

"Their what?"

"Their hair!"

Thick and curly

"Well why would they need a special place to be taught how to do this?"

"Well, to generalise massively, a large number of women with afro hair have had their hair straightened with dangerous chemicals from a young age and been led to believe that it is the norm, necessary and or the nominal notion of beauty. So now a number of women with afro hair are finding these forums to find their fit in their own skin. Though the event is a celebration of hair, I suppose the event can be said to be a celebration of learning yourself.

Sucking up good information

"And back we come to sexy. Sex is raw. Sexy is more. ... Did I just say that? I should trademark that! Sell it to..."

"You were saying about sexy..."

"Hey. As the doctor, aren't you meant to let me speak my mind??? Anyway. Yes. Sexy. How shall I explain this. The... aura. The swagger. The feel. The focus. The discipline. The purpose. But not all the answers... It's like looking at someone who's clothes fit them just right, then looking at someone else who, kinda looks like they are wearing clothes designed for another person. Another frame. Another soul. It's not "looks" you are looking at. It's "self". The same goes for hair. It's not about being rebellious. It's blending society and self and coming out with, well, inner sexy.

A perfect fit

"Not sexual at all?"

"Only a little." ;-)

Angus D
Click here to see more from The Natural Lounge Event. Plenty of smiles there!