Sunday, 17 January 2010

The lure of the unknown

Here I am, preparing myself to join the legions of bloggers out there, adding to the millions of words and images already floating around in cyberspace. Does the world really need yet another blog? Probably not, but as they say, it may already all have been done before, but not by you!

How have I got to this stage, just about to embark on a series of possibly absurd and aimless wanderings around London? For what possible purpose? Because I can, because I want to, because I'm curious, because I want to test myself, because I get bored doing the same old things, because I hate sticking to the rules....

Although we have unprecedented freedom of movement, modern life is so regimented, so subject to rules, our every move monitored and logged. With our diaries mapped out months in advance and deadlines to meet, our daily routines allow us little spontaneity. We live in our heads, hardly noticing our surroundings as we rush from A to B.

When was the last time you made a journey just for the sake of it? A journey that didn't involve travelling to work, to school, to the shops, doing a chore, going out for the night, being a tourist? When was the last time you took the time to look around you, to observe life as it happens, to take pleasure in the moment rather than planning ahead? How would it feel not to be constrained by these duties, to go out and not know what you were going to be doing that day or where you were going to go, to enjoy the pleasure of your own company without being beholden to anyone else, to be free to wander or linger at will, completely subject to the laws of chance? I'm going to find out.

The camera is good at inadvertently capturing the unexpected and the accidental, of which the human eye may be unaware - not really the decisive moment, but the random moment. The stuff of life that flows from one minute to the next, forever shifting and changing - that's what it's all about.


  1. From the point of view of a laywoman:
    I like your title " The lure of the unknown" (after I got informed about the different meanings of 'lure'). It may be a much promising and demanding blog. I very well understand your "philosophy of photographing", your questions and your intentions of 'capturing'. I agree with many of your sentences, especially in the last chapter -"the random moments", the "unexpected" - and "a journey just for the sake of it", yes, I myself thought sometimes of just that, but I admit that I either would forget then to take a photo or that I would regret not to have taken my camera with me! Reflecting about photography I personally would emphasize that I like to 'learn seeing': the sharp, critical ,and lovely observing of all things, the observing of 'things', also the ugly ones, I usually ignore or didn't appreciate of being 'beautiful' or attracting the eyes, e.g. a Dutch photograph 'taught' me to observe oftener the changing clouds or the reflections in windows..., blackdog 'taught' me to observe carefuller the play of light and shadow. In general I want to gain and to experience a clearer, truer and more differenciated perception of our 'reality', although I know that there are some ways of perception and we cannot recognize the 'reality' itself. therefore I don't like to ruin the 'reality' by silly colours or overtwiddling. I like more the minimalistic, pure, and candid pics facing real experiences and evoking some thoughts and feelings- known and unknown ones.
    I like your pic: a gate-like view through two powerful, old trees in autumn in a park towards a litter box and a fence which gives another look -through towards a street- nobody seems to be present except a child playing in the background?- a little secret! A peaceful and tranquil place in the midst of a loud- busy city?

  2. good luck in your journey Ingrid, i hope you find what your looking for:) i will be keeping a close eye out just in case:)

  3. I will try to keep in touch with your journey and watch with interest. Mind how you go out there; at least the "severe weather warnings" have finished.. for now!


  4. Thanks for all comments - I will certainly mind how I go! I read your comments about learning to observe with interest, Philine. I'm sure it is true that we can learn by practising and by looking at other people's work as you have done. For me it is the 'thingness' of things that I find so fascinating, whether they are ugly or beautiful - they are still worthy of observation.

  5. Apropos observations: Some times per week I'm going by bus which is often crowded so that my view is fragmentary, but being so close to the persons I can observe so many things and so many faces while listening to some fragments of talks and think about that what I'm seeing. Formerly as I was so busy in my job I didn't observe so much like now, and I have the feel now to be nearer to the life than before. If I were a photographer, I would like to make a series of observations in a bus or a tram or U-bahn/Metro!

  6. The most famous series of images taken on public transport are the Subway series by American photographer Walker Evans during the late 1930s/1940s. He rode the New York subway with a camera hidden beneath his overcoat and took surreptitious photographs of the people sat opposite him. You would probably get arrested if you tried to do that nowadays!