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Day 180/365: In Search of Style

It was a wonderfully slow and lazy day to start off the new year. I had the luxury of a couple of hours dosing and reading in bed while Bear relaxed with us. It turns out that she was only willing to "relax" for so long because she was brewing a new illness.  I am hoping that it will pass quickly. I used my time to get started on my new photography book, People Pictures by Chris Orwig. It is a wonderful book that encourages the reader to take more meaningful authentic portraits through 30 interesting exercises. It is less technical than the other photography books I have read, and much more reflective. I love it.  Although the book has helped me to think more about my photography, I think that I will struggle a bit with finding time to do the exercises properly. I will try though. 

The first exercise is to take 10 pictures using manual focus within 10 mins. This seems daunting. I will aim to give it a go tomorrow.

The second exercise will be to make a collection of other people's photography that inspires me and critique and define their work. Chris Orwig makes reference to many photographers in the book and I will need to check them out. I like that he encourages me to pay more attention to the mood and emotion evoked by the images. I need to learn to pause and reflect more. Notice more. 

The third exercise really excites me because it helps to define your style through 4 steps. I hear a lot about this and I know that it takes time. Years. I am keen to make a start on this exercise, so here goes:

Step 1: Write without restraint 25 things that you like most. Then choose your top 5 and say why you like them. 
  1. dolls
  2. boots
  3. books
  4. hospitals
  5. 30s style champagne glasses
  6. glass art
  7. quilts
  8. foxes
  9. owls
  10. rocking horses
  11. cake
  12. trees
  13. new socks
  14. knitted jumpers
  15. blankets
  16. sewing machines
  17. decorative lights
  18. decorative mirrors
  19. hotels
  20. vintage ladybird books
  21. vintage toys
  22. ballet shoes
  23. diving boards
  24. cameras 
  25. photographs 


Oh wow, it is hard to say why I like dolls so much. I have always loved them. Perhaps it is because they represent people and they evoke an emotional response in me. I certainly never experience the fear that others describe. I particularly enjoy cuteness or beauty in a doll and I like that I can dress them in a way that I don't have the courage to dress myself. I am a child psychologist and I appreciate the value of playthings for children. I feel that it is a shame to let go of all playfulness in adulthood. As a psychologist I am interested in people and therefore I am drawn to thinks like human stories and experiences as portrayed in literature and art. It is no surprise that portraits interest me most. I enjoy some landscape and macro photography but it does't have the same appeal for me. 


It is hard to imagine how my love of boots might connect with photography except to say that I enjoy their practical and sturdy, yet often elegant quality. I am practical and a realist and have little for things that serve no functional purpose. I have no interest in uncomfortable shoes that I cannot even walk in. 

Knitted Jumpers

What can I say? Knitwear is cosy and comfortable. It invites me to touch it and doing so makes me feel safe and warm. I enjoy the detail in the individual stitches. I am also aware of it's vulnerability and the need to treat it with love and care. It feels natural.

Decorative Mirrors

It's odd that I love mirrors so much as I don't particularly like to spend time looking at myself. If I do then it has less to do with scrutinising my appearance and more to do with reflecting upon when I am in my life. I think that it is important to see, and accept, yourself as you are. I make sure that my children have access to a mirror because seeing yourself is an important part of forming your identity.  I find it interesting that  Bear likes to look at herself in the mirror when she is crying. This is something that I used to do and a woman does it in the film Breakfast With Tiffany's. I guess this love of mirrors reflects my love of the camera capturing people as they truly are. I also love the light that they reflect. 

Vintage Toys

I would absolutely love to have all of my old toys back and many of my brothers too. I will cheat a little here and add the old Ladybird books in too. I love that old toys have a history and stories related to them. I love that they helped children to learn about life and distracted them when life became too intense for them. I am a sentimental person prone to nostalgia. I don't like the idea of losing my connection with previous versions of myself. I believe that younger versions of ourselves live within us and I like to connect with them through reflecting back upon experiences, listening to music, smells that bring back memories and holding objects or toys that belong to an earlier stage of life. 

I will continue this exercise tomorrow. If I pick out the salient words then my desired style could be defined by words such as human stories, practical, real, strength, sturdy yet elegant, vulnerable, natural, reflection upon life stages and development of the person. These words certainly represent the types of pictures that I am drawn to. Now I just need to find a way to create them myself... Probably a good next step would be to hold those words in mind while reviewing my previous pictures. 

For now, here are a few shots from our family game of Qwirkle. 


Not winning - do I detect vulnerability?

The "Qwirkle Dance"