THE COMPASSIONATE PHOTOGRAPHER.

I am a photographer that likes to write. I am a journalist,  with some very expensive camera equipment, for hire if you like! Like it or not I am an ethical professional. Fiercely independent, proudly original ,  I never knowingly copy anyone else or use anything that is not mine or freely given.  Even the watermark, I put on images like this published anywhere on the internet,  serves as a gentle reminder to others not to take that which is not theirs and to try and keep within the actual law governing copright. Theft is self defeating – it diminsshes a person, take something away from themselves. Take your own  pictures, write your own words, have faith in your own virtues and talents don’t pinch mine!

I place great personal importance to being myself, not being slave to artificially imposed photography “rules” or a fan or follower of any particular photographer or style. All those things are entirely subjective. If photography is an art , that perspective comes from within you not through being taught or slave to a method. It is something I am driven to do and it has been part of my life and who I am for over forty years. I have met  people in the course of my life and work whom I admire, from great athletes to ordinary people and hope that I show them all equal respect as individuals. There is nothing more valuable you can give to others than being true to yourself.Those who have that art are the people I feel most comfortable with.

THE COMPASSIONATE  PHOTOGRAPHER -beginnings

A "pansy" in my garden, a rebirth from a group of them that withered and died last year, which sprang up from one of the seeds they left behind! .

I have no religion. I am an atheist. I am in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds me and despair at those parts of the natural world we have destroyed but refuse to contribute to that decline knowingly through any action I take. I take photographs of many things , even in spare time  when I have not been hired. I am driven, where I can ,  to find what is good and celebrate it without taking more than I need and as far as possible doing no harm to anything or anyone. ( I will of course write about and take photographs of things that are negative and sadden me but try and use such things in a constructive way)  I am sceptical about all written creeds which I see as man made and testament to human yearnings rather than the work of any deity. There is , after my own father , perhaps only one person I have come  across in my life (in the last year of my teens) that I really admire, not an influence as such , but one who, on first meeting seemed like a friend I had always known but embodies  a model of standards for behaviour which I have always tried to keep to in my life and through my work.  That person left a legacy , a simple set of straightforward suggestions , not commandments, but guidelines  through which a person can live a fullfilling life and cause no harm to others in the process.

As permanent as anything can be ,this small concrete rupa of Buddha is welcome resident in our little garden.

That person preceded Christ and curiously spent about the same amount to years searching for basic truth that I spent in my alternative profession that of a special school teacher.  Sidhartha  endured many hardships and deprivations , embracing all the religions and life styles in self- torturing journey of discovery , an attempt to discover what accounts for human suffering. His search proved to be fruitless and is was only when he ceased looking that he discovered the simple truth which led to his enlightenment as the word Buddha attests to.

RIGHT WORK ?

Buddhist guidelines are iconicised in the wheel of life symbol, and eight spoked wheel which serves as a reminder to eight areas of a person’s functioning they could do well to observe. One of those represents right work. Following one of four buddhist precepts ( overarching ideas) is that of innocence, doing no harm. Therefore “right” work would not be seen in a butcher or a front line soldier but would be seen in a farmer or a military medical orderly. But also a person is advised not to exploit others and to take only what is needed and above all strive to be compassionate to others as the noblest of human action. Compassion is the major fuel of contentment.  This means that for example I am not driven merely by the vain pursuit of maximising profit but base any payment I ask for with patient understanding of  a potential clients means. I very rarely take an unflattering picture of someone , it is not in my nature to displease people or produce something with them in a negative light.

The virtue in trying to price my work reasonably It does not of course blind me to those who would happily exploit the good nature of others in an attempt to avoid reasonable payment. I am inevitably generous  to genuine customers of mine and value their trust in me and strive always to do my best for them. ( Those who have exploited me in the past I just smile about – thieves are invariably unhappy is any real sense and there is nothing material that I have which has any great long term value were it to be  taken it from me. I would be mighty inconvenienced if you took my camera of course and even my photograph of the moon but my pleasure in gazing up at it , or the skill I may have in photographing it you are unable to steal!)

HA HA , A “PASSION”  FOR PHOTOGRAPHY – RIGHT!

I am avoiding using the awful platitude , the  phrase ” I have always had a passion for photography” and smile when I see it, usally  on startup photography business or amatuers “faking it” on line when they are telling the market about themsleves usually on some self -indulgent weekend website they have cobbled together as the “professional” thing to do !  Those who try and masquerade what is just a hobby as a profession make it pretty obvious in the way that they present themselves and yet so often do not realise it. It is not necessarily what you do, as the song goes, but the way that you do it that gives the game away. 90% of the profession is marketing. any fool can take photo but it takes a great deal of work to make photography pay more than peanuts and pocket money.

Anyone can take a decent photo- all but a professional few can get paid for them

Passion in that context is so often a self indulgence.  I see and know  so many people who enjoy and love photography and that is great. Many people have an ambition to make a living as a professional photographer; professional is an adjective which in reality should imply a certain set of high standards perhaps , but it actually refers to someone with a camera that makes the bulk of their income from photography. Ironically it is the ever growing horde of well intentioned amatuers with such ambitions that have ensured that the profession struggles more and more to make any income. We have a responsibility to other photographers and giving work away freely, doing jobs for nothing and undercutting all competition devalues photography. Ultimately any returns are an own goal.

A COMPASSIONATE PHOTOGRAPHER’S SPARE TIME – I am never bored for a second -there is often quite a long gap between paying photography work. I spend down time working from home, “marketing” , for example through prolific activity on line whether posting the ocassional advertisement of my services or supporting and helping others in a variety of their activities , all in the main  on social networking platforms. I am self employed so have few responsibilties. I try and live the “right” way making and repairing things myself, trying not to waste anything. I am content to  live very modestly  and our little garden demonstrates  the simple pleasures taken  in everyday  things. In a real sense some of those things are of my own creation and give me great pride and add to my sense of inner contentment.  I enjoy sitting out in or working in our little garden and sometimes photograph what is there. Pictures are great to help tell stories, and for sharing ideas and thoughts. I enjoy both photography writing and sharing ideas and experiences and am lucky that is also my job. Doing both is easy , almost effortless  never a chore , it is my life and my enthusiasm never wains. This is what you always get if you hire me.

All of this entry was triggered watching a bird bathing and feeding in my garden today!  Today is a quiet day paid work wise – so took time out to give this  snapshot of my day. Take a look at my gardene!

At my  little home here in quiet part of the city, which I share happily with Angela and her daughter, two dogs Molly and Lilly, (and in my office here my two goldfish) there is a small space which I have turned into a little garden which i can see from this upstairs window. It is a small house in a row, a terrace, orginally a “two up two down” dwelling for industrial workers built at the begining of the last century. To make a back yard into  a  the garden was a labour of love. While clearing it I unearthed not one but two Victorian shallow limestone sinks , one of which you can see in this image. One had been buried completely, the other reversed and the underside used as part of a pathway. I like to recycle and resuse things. Most of the plants and now  small trees had  not been bought but found either as seeds or tiny saplings  I simply  nutured  them. there are two small mountain ash trees, now some twnety feet high , I grew from seed.  What started as a tiny cutting pulled from a crack in a steep concrete embankment of the River Seine is now a fifteen feet high wild Budlia , attracting insects and butterflies when  each year it puts out large numbers of  its lovely lilac coloured flowers. It also provides safe cover for small wild birds we have feeders for handing from the branches.

 

Female Blackbird checking it is safe to take a bath.

It is great to make use of these ancient stone sinks which used to be a busy central part of  a humble large family’s kitchen. One of these sinks I raised on a brick plinth against the back wall of the house, plumbed in a tap and use it for potting plants. The other I placed against the border of the garden , away from the house, and keep it filled with clean water so that the wild birds can drink and bath in it.  It is a privilege and delight to be visited by so many little birds, one of only two back gardens on the street where they feel safe and will always find food. We always smile at bird bath time. Of course the birds are very nervous and constantly looking around. To our constant amusement, it is not uncommon to see sparrows lining up on the fence and taking it in turns to bath.  Here are two photogrpahs i took today through my kitchen window, the only time I have taken pictures of a lady taking a bath. This is a female balckbird, curiously only the males are actually black.

Female Blackbird having a very quick shower bath.

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