Allow Yourself To Go On An Adventure.

Rediscovering this record has certainly helped me over the past month or so. It evokes in me such deep happiness, there is so much playfulness, energy, and joy buried deep in the DNA of POLYSICS.

Listening to KARATE HOUSE now has recalled to me how I originally came across this band in the first place, and a timely reminder of allowing yourself to go on an adventure, whether planned or not.

Let’s go back a few years and I’m looking for a fun birthday present for my sister, and low and behold the Kaiser Chiefs are playing a gig at the Ally Pally in London.

Knowing that Vix was a fan, I booked tickets. Now there was a slight ulterior motive as my man crush, guitar genius and all around good guy, Graham Coxon was supporting them. Sorted. We’ll both have a good time.

Roll around to the time of the gig and I was expecting to see GC roll on before the KCs

However instead it was 4 guys in jump suits. They started playing what I can only describe as chaos. Controlled chaos.

There was lots of running around, golden pom poms, a recorder solo, and just general fun.

Such an impression they made on me, I can’t remember the rest of the night, though that may also be down to having drank quite a bit that evening 😉

I wanted to find out more about this band, so I hopped on YouTube, and was immediately struck by them. Their style in music, their energy, and how different they were to anything I’d heard previously (and possibly since).

I found at their names (at the time Hiro, Fumi, Kayo, Yano), that they were from Japan, and that they’d been producing music for quite some time. They sung mostly in Japanese with a smattering of English here and there, are heavily influenced by bands like DEVO (another band I needed to look into), Kraftwerk, and a tonne of other 70s/80s bands.

This took me and my sister to another gig of theirs, this time in my hometown of Oxford. Just to see their energetic performance on my doorstep was a thing to behold, and every time I go to the upstairs room/old Zodiac I think of this gig.

I got to see them once again at a gig around 11 years ago now in London, at King’s College, and this time I got to very briefly chat with Fumi who was lovely. I got a selfie with her, which is now on a mug that Minna made for me as a Christmas present, I still have that mug, and will never part company with it!

Since this record was released, and the last time I saw them, their pom pom waiving, recorder playing, all around cool keyboard/vocoderer (is that a word?) Kayo has left the band 😦 But for good reasons, she just wanted what she called a normal life, I hope she’s doing well.

And that’s the thing with this band, I’ve never really had this kind of connection with a band. They’re simply themselves, making music that makes them happy.

All this wouldn’t have been possible had I not embarked on that early adventure, to find out who they were.

It’s lead me onto my love of other bands, such as Public Service Broadcasting.

So allow yourself to go on an adventure, whether you planned it or not.

Confidence & Courage

Do you feel confident with your photography? Do you feel courageous?

I’m going to share with you, two simple ways that you can improve both your confidence, and your courage.

A caveat here, both confidence, and courage mean different things, to different people. But you know what it means to you.

ALSO

I’ve been there, what I share here comes through my own experiences.

The simplest way you can boost you confidence with your photography is to …

Practice. It really is that simple.

Ask yourself this question.

How often do you get out with your camera?

It doesn’t matter what kind of camera. It can be your dSLR, your BIG camera, it can be your phone.

Is it once a day, once a week, once a month, or even less?

The more you practice, the more you’ll become accustomed to the camera you are using, how it works, and you’ll begin to find what you enjoy capturing most.

Try it out today. Make sure your camera is in an easy to reach place. Set yourself a goal to pick it up every day, and photograph something, anything. You don’t even need to leave your home.

There is never a right moment.

ALSO

What is good enough? How can you tell that you know enough?

Which leads onto …

A lack of courage.

A lack of courage comes in many guises.

You might want to photograph a person, but don’t feel courageous enough to ask them.

You could feel that you’re not ready, you don’t have enough knowledge.

Remember this, you are only as good as you are now. To improve you must push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

What you’ll find every time you do this, is that comfort zone becomes bigger, it grows.

So ask that person.

Take that photo.

By doing you’ll already feel better about yourself, and doing always leads to new ideas.

You can liken doing to pushing a rock down a hill. The hardest part is getting it moving, once it starts though, there’s no stopping it.

I gengtly encourage you to allow yourself to be the photographer you want to be.

To actually be a photographer.

So do you feel confident with your photography? Do you feel courageous?

Enjoy What You Enjoy.

Never be affraid to enjoy what you enjoy.

There will always be someone that will think you strange for liking what you like.

There will always be someone who will look down on you for being who you are.

It seems that human nature is very much to place everyone in boxes, it makes those around us more understandable.

I say, to hell with boxes! We are all unique individuals. 

We all have our own unique, lived experience. Each and every one of us are a combination of our upbringing, our education, our choices, our thoughts, our beliefs, the list goes on into infinity.

As there are so many parameters that make up who we all are, then there are so many different people.

The only real identifier, for the want of a better phrase, is someone’s name, how they treat others, and how they treat themselves as well.

So, be yourself, but when you are, be kind to those around you, as you don’t know how tough it can be, to be someone else.

Every Time You Pick Up Your Camera.

Ask yourself, what do I want to photograph today? Be as precise as possible, so for example today I want to photograph every red car that I see, rather than just any car. Or I want to photograph interesting people that I meet on the street, rather than just street photography. Those are just two very basic example, be eve more precise than that.

When you know what you want to photograph, think of where you’d need to go to find those shot, and again be specific. Have more than one place, have as many as you can think of and pick one place to start with.

I often find that photography is a good excuse to get out for a walk, but remember that the impetous to go out in the first place is to photograph. Contrating on one thing at a time is a good thing. Do one thing, and do it well.

Then when you’re out with your camera, keep your eyes open, be ready to take that next shot when it presents itself, have fun, lose yourself in what you’re doing, lose yourself to the experience that is photography.

Bottom line, if your photography is just a hobby, make sure it is fun, as that is what a hobby is supposed to be, fun.

What Makes An Artist?

How do we know when a person is an artist? What makes them an artist?

I posed this question in a recent episode of the Shot @ an Angle show, and the replies I got from the viewers were quite informative, and they didn’t all agree with each other. To some it was the idea of being creative, that if you’re creative, you are an artist.

Where does inspiration come from? Should you wait for it to come to you? Inspiration can come in many forms, but it can be forced. If we were all to wait for inspiration to hit us we’d be waiting for a long time. What if it never comes? Inspiration comes from action, taking a decisive step, taking action. The mere act of placing one foot in front of another leads you to go for a walk, and on that walk your surroundings will alter and inspiration often follows.

I didn’t wait for inspiration to hit me to write this, I sat down with my laptop, with a mug of tea to hand, and started writing. The very act of me doing this sparked the memory of the live show I did, and I started to put those thoughts down in writing.

What makes an artist? Are they more creative then eveyone else? Do they have more inspiration than everyone else? Or do they just act on what they enjoy doing.

I’m a photographer, a musician, a writer, a speaker, a facilitator, a podcast host. Does that make me an artist? What do you do? Do you see yourself as an artist?

The only person who can really define whether you are an artist is yourself, nobody else. Everyone has opinions, everone will have their own point of view, but the one that truly counts is yours.

So today, take the step and call yourself whatever you want to be. Call yourself an artist, and see how it sits with you, how it makes you feel. 

Just Keep Moving …

Being on the move helps you think differently, it gives you a fresh perspective, free from the usual distractions and habits of your regular haunts.

You see the world from a new perspective, you meet new people, new ideas formulate.

To be on the move can often be as simple as …

Going for a walk around your house

Going for a walk around the block, through your local park

Getting a day pass on the local buses, or train.

Recently I got myself a day rail pass which allowed me unlimited travel on the trains in a certain area.

All I did was catch trains, and while moving, I worked.

I got three blog posts (including this one) written.

  • Two important emails written.
  • Two newsletters drafted.
  • A new workshop started.
  • The rest of my week organized.

I also had.

Two chats with interesting strangers.

Being on the move helps you think differently, it gives you a fresh perspective, free from the usual distractions and habits of your regular haunts.

What Do You Like to Photograph?

What do you like to photograph?

What do you want to photograph?

Is the answer to these two questions completely different?

Are you really taking your photography in the direction you want it to go? Or are you following a trend?

Would you like to create your own style? A photographic style that is truly yours, and yours alone?

One step you can take is to capture what you want to capture.

Practice makes perfect, and you’ve got to enjoy what you’re practicing right?

Well not always, it depends on your reasoning, and why you’re doing it?

Why all these questions? Well, they are to get you thinking, to take a positive step towards creating your own style.

The World Through Your Window

What would I see, if I were to see the world through your window?

Who would would I meet? What would it feel like?

Would I see the countryside? Would I see the city?

Would it be light? Would it be dark?

Would it be colourful? Would everything be in black & white?

Your photography is that window, your view of the world.

Begin to see it as such, and think of it as a story of your life. A way of sharing a part of your life, with the world.

Imagine it right now.

Visualize you taking the best photograph you have ever taken, safe in the knowledge that you will improve on it.

That when it comes to art there is no such animal as perfection, there is only opinion.

So, what does the world look like through your window?

My top 3 cities in Europe for photography: Where to go and when.

I’ve travelled a fair amount in my life. In the last ten years or so, that has mostly been around Europe. With that in mind, here are my top 3 cities in Europe.

Hamburg – Early December.

It has a brutal style of architecture, mainly due to its industrial past, the proximity to the sea and it being a port city. Perfect for anyone interested in their lines and perspectives.

The perfect time to go there is in early December. just as the Christmas markets are opening. Make your way to the Altonaer Fischauktionshalle on a Sunday morning, or to Miniatur Wunderland in the old warehouse district.

There is so much to see and photograph in this grand city.

Rome – Spring

An obvious one really. Known as the eternal city, there really is a photo at every turn. The people, the history, the life of the city. The real challenge is to find a hidden corner, which nobody else has found.

Check out grandeur of The Baths of Caracalla, or my favourite The Trevi Fountain, but make sure you arrive there early!

I pick Spring as the weather is generally good, the days are getting longer, and the streets are quieter than that of the height of summer.

Budapest – May

The city of two sides, separated by the second-longest river in Europe, the Danube. With Buda sat in the hills with its grand castle, while Pest is much flatter, allowing for wide-open streets.

While you’re there, check out the Hűvösvölgy, Children’s Railway, a railway almost entirely ran by scouts, or grab yourself a 24-hour Budapest-travelcard that allows you unlimited travel around the city, including the many boats that traverse the river.

I’ve chosen May as it is the start of the summer. It’s pleasantly warm, which allows you to get out and soak in the atmosphere, and capture what you see.

Do you have a favourite city to visit? If so, where, and when is the best time to visit there?

Sparking your creativity

Do you often find yourself asking the question, how can you spark your creativity into life again?

As a visual artist, workshop facilitator, podcast host. I need to be creative in what I do.

Even those people we admire as being what is termed a creative genius, have spells both long and short of not feeling creative.

What I’m going to share with you here are a few techniques that help me find that creative spark again, to create a thing we’re proud of, to bring something new into the world.

  1. Movement – Staying put in one place too long, rarely helps creativity. You end up with the same thought patterns, familiarity breeds familiarity. Introducing movement, be it a walk in the garden,  a stroll to the shops, or just a lap of your office helps break those cycles of thought.
  2. Resolve or stubbornness – When I don’t feel creative when I’m having a day when I can’t see the next shot, the next blog post, the next newsletter, the next podcast question, I push myself out there. I create just for the sake of it. Not everything you’re going to make will be good, in fact only around 6% of ideas become a commercial success. Build your resolve and be stubborn with yourself.
  3. Cut out distractions – Find a place, or places, that are distraction-free. No phone, no internet, just be. Set yourself a time, ten minutes, half an hour, whatever you feel you can spare. Take a pen and paper and write out the issue you’re trying to resolve, or the idea you have in your head. Focus solely on that one task.

Do you have a particular way to spark your creativity? I’d love to hear it. Why not comment below, or email at info@shotatanangle.co.uk