I am finding that photography not only triggers emotions in me, but that I can use this medium, deliberately, to affect how I feel.
Sometimes I need to calm down. To pause and consider. To breathe. During these moments digital photography will only wind my mind up all the more, and I’m certain that waiting for a Polaroid to develop would do me good but for the knowledge that I would find a failed image all the more distressing. These are the moments when I take out a twin-lens reflex camera.
Twin-lens reflex cameras (TLRs) – most of which are medium format cameras – differ from S LRs in that they have two lenses, one for viewing and one for actually taking the photo, placed one above the other, and a viewfinder on top that you look down into. This changes the entire process of composing an image compared to any other camera I use. Basically, a TLR moves differently.
I carry the camera – a Yashica – at waist level on a leather strap around my neck. This means that every movement I make, however little, as I look down into the viewfinder affects the composition of my image. Thus I am forced to be still and in control. Taking slow breaths. Making slow movements, carefully planned to improve my image, to shave off that unnecessary part, to straighten the horizon just that little bit.
When I get the resulting images back from the lab, usually weeks or even months later, they feel disconnected from the process of shooting. Thus my medium format meditation is more than anything else an exercise in being present in the moment, seeing and creating a visual image through the viewfinder just then and just there.
Whatever your emotional connection to photography is, I hope you savour it and explore it. Do you use it to cheer you up on a bad day? To connect with people? To reminisce? Tell us about it in the comments!
– All the best from Jenny.