Notebook

I’ve bought a notebook! And I have got myself a pencil! And that pencil was bought in Woolworths which closed down in the UK a long time ago.


I started taking photographs in the pre-digital age and in those days I would carry a little notebook with me to record the “what” (subject), “how” (exposure settings) and, occasionally, the “why” (why was I taking the photograph; what had attracted me to the subject. These days with a digital camera the “how” is stored with the photographs and the deluge of photographs I can take now that I no longer have to ration myself with a single roll of film, means that I can end up forgetting about the “what” and the “why”.

With a film camera I could take a maximum of thirty-six photographs until I had to reload, plus there was the cost of developing and printing them. The economic imperative encouraged me to think a little longer each time before I pressed the shutter; taking down the details in a notebook added to that thought process.

A digital camera gives you the opportunity to take 100s, if not 1000s of photographs before you run out of space. There is very little cost apart from a handful that might get printed out. Sometimes it can be very easy to keep firing the shutter in quick succession with little thought for the process.

In my experience this seems to reflect how many of us live our lives these days with more and more stuff coming at us faster and faster, and we have to move faster to keep up. However there have been efforts to slow things down such as the Slow Movement which originated in Italy in the 1980s as a protest against the opening of a fast food outlet. Most of us recognise the need to take time out although it can sometimes be very hard to find that time.

One of the things I would like to try to do is slow down my photography and a part of that process will be to carry and use a notebook to record my photographs. Some of those records may well appear in this blog.

Interestingly, the digital camera does offer a chance to pause which was not available with film photography. After firing the shutter there is an opportunity to review the image and decide whether I have got it right; does it reflect what I was trying to capture or should I take it again in a different way? However, with the sheer amount of photographs I can take sometimes I will only give the preview a cursory glance and there have been a few times I must admit when I have not bothered to look until I have got home (ironically, this can replicate the moment when I would pick up my prints from the developer, along with the accompanying delight at the well-captured moment or disappointment when I realised the final result did not live up to my expectations on the ground).

I will attempt to take notes of the photographs I take, not necessarily the technical aspects such as the shutter speed and aperture; the camera takes care of that. I will use it to try and record some of my thoughts around the experience of photographing the subject; why have I chosen it and why this particular composition, for example. I will share some of my experiences here.

Published by Stephen Taylor

Freelance e-learning developer and instructional designer, photographer and cyclist

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