Thursday, 14 May 2015

A picture sparks a thousand insights

I recently went to a lecture by photographer Ken Scott, who has taken at least one photo every day since 1st January 2008. He claimed that the exercise has not only changed his photography, but his life.
January, 1st is still a long way off, and I am an expert in procrastination, so I decide to start my own photography challenge the day after the lecture.
My first picture is of the windowsill in the upstairs bathroom. I wonder what a judge at a photography competition would make of it...
Maybe he or she would comment favourably on the way the morning light creates interesting patterns on some of the objects. However, the composition does not flow: The eye gets drawn to the incomplete writing in the corner, and I have not followed the rule of thirds. For a pleasing image, you are meant to divide your image into nine quadrants of the same size and then place the key subject/object on the intersection between a vertical and horizontal line... The judge would probably also point out that some of the highlights are burned out – another no, no in photography because where you have pure white you lose detail. So this photo would not get a seal of merit if it was entered into a competition.
However, when I look into my picture, I see waves crashing on the shore, leaving behind treasures for those who search for them. I feel the wind playing in my hair and hear the sound of laughter and seagulls. I remember the photography challenge in Littlehampton, where we were challenged to spell words using images. My husband John was my willing assistant as I hunted for letters that would spell “creativity”. My memories put a smile on my face and open the door to gratitude for the life I am privileged to lead.
This exercise makes me wonder how often I judge something or someone because I stay on the surface of things. I also notice my reluctance to share the photo with others. I am aware that my perfectionism can snuff out the creative flame.  I have already learned so much about myself and my relationship with my environment from one photo. I think Ken Scott is on to something.
 I believe that the lessons I picked up from Ken’s photography lecture can also be applied to writing:
·         If you want to be a better at your craft, practice daily.
·         Don’t be afraid to experiment and challenge the rules.
·         Take the time to look into things and not just at things.
·         Close-ups are often more likely to offer a fresh perspective.
·         Represent your subject in relation to his/her environment.
·         Black and white brings out character.
·         Love the light you have.
About the author:
Sue Irving is the co-ordinator for the Creative Communicators in Petersfield. Pictures from the photography project can be seen at
To check out Ken Scott’s work, go to
Sue has co-written a book with her husband John about their experiences when climbing Kilimanjaro. How to conquer a mountain: Kilimanjaro lessons is available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon, with all proceeds going to charity.  


  1. I think your window sill picture is beautiful and very evocative of sunshine and waves, as you say. And you are so right about the writing. For me the perfectionism thing can really slow me down. Great post...

  2. I love your photo, Sue, and all the memories it evokes for you. These words ring true:"I am aware that my perfectionism can snuff out the creative flame" Amen! It can kill it stone dead or at least make it throw a wobbly flicker. Keep sharing your own images and the confidence and courage will grow in being authentic rather than aiming to fit someone else's idea of perfect. :)