If you have come to this blog site as a budding photographer then 'just keep showing up at the view finder'.
You don't need a grand plan with a practice. You just need the doing of it.
I remember from time to time that my first impulse to use my iPhone came, not from a moment of shining poetic rapture, but from a moment of drear loneliness. And fatigue. And despair at the ugly unfairness of the daily commute. Especially the winter commute. Coming out of the tube to the dark bus station. The empty bus stands. The Godot-like wait that is your fate. Idly, perhaps halfway to checking the email inbox, the camera lens opens.
Great work, by the way, Steve Jobs for the wonderful facsimile of a diaphragm shutter (my good friend Wikipedia shows me the correct term). Inside iPhone, a graphic emulates the originally mechanical action of a number of blades sliding past each other to open the aperture to make the exposure. The larger the number of blades, the more accurately circular is the aperture. And iPhone's shutter makes a beautiful circle. Ah and the sound! Car lovers wax lyrical about the sound of a closing BMW car door. It's a huge influence in the moment of purchase, I am told, and someone has a job to create, to 'compose' it. I am a Breaking Bad fan and love listening to the DVD extras to hear them discuss the loving care and complexity of making the sound track to the show. The exact quality of liquid pouring through a tube, for example, can be made up of 5 separate, carefully chosen sounds. The lovely little crunchy slidy snap of the iPhone 'shutter' is a tiny pleasure, an aural 'reward' (there is something called Brain Brightening which a wonderful woman called Dr Parkinson does, using a programme where the brain is trained to enhance or eliminate certain brain waves purely by the stimulus of small chirrups and clicks, if you care to research that!).
So yes, there goes the shot - of a glistening manhole cover. Action taken. Actor, not cipher subject. I was here. I exist. The moment has been marked, a mark has been made. (My father brought back Kodachrome slides of the ochre hand paintings on the rocks at Carnarvon Gorge when I was a girl too small to go).
Looking, later, I somehow feel, too, that the metal cover feels seen. The ancient art of anthropomorphism. Useful for story tellers. Innocent act of empathy. And heaven (or the vast unhelmed realm of chaos) knows we can do with more of that.
To make a little side link to my Clown teaching - Clowns do not distinguish between the animate and inanimate. A chair (or, I guess, manhole cover) can be a friend, a witness even.
So... I started speaking of practice and segued into existential musing... but my point, I think, is that the purpose of the practice need not be to create, but merely to be. Be present to being by doing. To take aimless action. And if creation comes as a byproduct, so be it. Sometimes the 'creative act' can feel like an onerous thing, a burden, or block, no? 'Am I really creative? Is what I create meaningful?' Aauugh. To hark back to Cage - 'I have nothing to say and I am saying it'. Just do. Later is plenty early to see what might be there.
I have been taking some gritty shots lately. I thought I might include a more pretty shot in this post to ring the changes - but it seems I am in an existential mood tonight and instead offer this: