Posted by: Lotus Light | February 16, 2010

Changing lens

What is an addiction? Can an activity be addictive? Photography for example?? I think so, when in just a few hours 700 photos can end up on a camera disk!! When someone reads my stars for the year, and part of it says "You will buy some new accessories" and I immediately think of more camera stuff as accessories?? And even when watching a movie, my first comment about a scene is – "Hey there are some great places to shoot there". I think that all qualifies as addiction!

It is a fascinating addiction though – capturing bits and pieces of the world, stilling forever that particular moment of time. These moments become history, history seen through the eyes of one person. And my version of history comes with its own particular slant. Photography can help identify that slant, the parts of personality that aren’t obvious until trying to find other views of the world in the photographs.

Those other views aren’t in my photos. I don’t take sweeping views, I don’t take photos of myself, I don’t take the ‘famous’ shots. My photos show the little things: the hands of a performer, the shoes of a dancer, the reflection of leaves in water, the faces of the old, the street sweeper at the famous site. A perfect flower is lovely to shoot, but the insect-eaten petals, the last browned leaf are just as fascinating.

I’m not so sure what this view of the world highlights about me.

Now that I am writing and illustrating articles, my view of the world has to broaden. I now need to think about what other people may want to see in a place, what might interest an editor. When I post photos on a photography website, I have to look for technical skill, and an interesting point of view; another push for changing my view of what to shoot, of looking at the world. When I am taking photos to demonstrate my understanding of photography to my lecturer, I have to use the settings, the directions given.

Changing the way I view and record my parts of the world is challenging. Even when I changed lens on my camera, I would still be searching for a better way to tell MY story, MY view of this bit of history. Now I need to find ways of telling stories that other people can relate to. I have to change my internal lens to match a popular lens or a technical lens or an academic lens.

But my lens still exists – in the photos I choose to print for myself, in the 500 shots I take just for interest, not the 200 for publication or critiquing. I am developing interchangeable lens – switching between what I like and what I need for other purposes. Trying to look at the external world through a stranger’s eyes is a curious process.

But in the end, my lens is still dominant, because I am deciding what that stranger might be interested in, what those critiquing me will want to see, what the lecturer is looking for. So my lens distorts the others, they distort what I see. If they publish, or offer positive critiques or high marks, then I have chosen well. If they reject, be negative about my shots, give me low marks, then too much of my own lens has intruded into their world view.

So why choose these paths of changing my world view? Most of it is material – I want a different career when I return to Australia, so I must study, learn so much more technically and build a portfolio of published works, written and photographic.

With more experience, will MY lens stay clear, or will it morph into the other lens? Will I be able to turn each lens on and off at will, viewing the world with different eyes for each purpose?



  1. Hi Lotus, I think you might enjoy my take on photography in terms of copyright. Unlike writing, photography is always a unique production as the change in light and/or the change in object over time results in a unique photo every time – no plagiarism exists. Great photos and yes, I am a photography addict as well.

  2. I have re-read this post and looked again at the photos. The lens through which one views the world does influence both the choice of lens in taking a particular photo as much as it does the content and perspective of that photo. In the past, before I became too full of life as a teacher, coach, parent, student, spouse- I worked photography as a craft not thinking about what the photo might be saying about the photographer. Now that I have the time, I have put away the old film SLR in favour of my digital camera. I worry less about accessories and trust that this non-DSLR that I use will capture what I am looking for – a mirror of my soul.

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