There’s much talk of vaccines. Speculation that Covid-19 coronavirus will be defeated through mass vaccinations. Hope, even expectation, that life will revert (as close as possible) to what we recall as normal. Which means that we can once more dare to imagine and maybe even begin planning a fresh start; perhaps the fresh start many of us pictured at the beginning of 2020 – the start of a new decade and all that.
It’s no surprise that the fall-out resulting from the pandemic – health fears, travel restrictions, challenging impacts on lives and livelihoods, mental stress – has bred doubt and made us question our life’s assumptions and values. Bringing us all closer to our mortality than we’re used to day-to-day can have that effect. But now seems a good time to turn this negative into a positive: instead of letting fear and doubt hinder us, we should welcome confidence back into our lives. Start believing that what we plan to do in 2021: whether return to what we used to do or start something new, can happen and will prove valuable to us, our loved ones and others.
If you’re an outdoor photographer like me you’ll be looking forward to travelling again, beyond the essential journeys only boundaries set by our respective governments during the pandemic. To re-visit favourite venues and discover new possibilities, fingers-crossed in beautiful spring, summer and autumn 2021 weather. In my case, to concentrate again on photographing around south east England. I anticipate driving and walking many miles across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
My 2021 photography plans, however, aren’t just about where my camera and I might wander. They’re also about what I do with the images I’m fortunate enough to capture. How do I best share the stories the south east landscape shares with me? And even more important than where, what and how, is my why. Why resume looking for more photographs across my home region?
This is where confidence comes in. For me, my Why is solid. Firstly, I do what I love. Photography is my way of ‘writing’ about scenes and sharing stories through images. What I lack as a Wordsmith I make up for (a little at least) with an eye for capturing pictures. Secondly, I do it in the region of England I was brought up in and continue to live. It’s like digging for diamonds in my own back garden. While Kent doesn’t have the highest peaks and deepest valleys and lakes, the variety of outdoor photography opportunities, both inland and coastal, is in my opinion unmatched.
Thirdly, photography provides me with a way of engaging with others. While it’s fair to say I’m happy in my own company and enjoy photographing on my own, I’m not averse to shooting with others. Maybe during 2021 I’ll reach out even more to other fellow outdoor landscape shooters, to meet up and share locations, ideas and techniques.
When it comes to sharing images, I confess that this is the most troublesome consideration for me going into the new year. While I can see the face-value attraction of social media for connecting with fellow photographers, creatives of all kinds, viewers and friends, it’s not the optimal way to share our work. Ultimately, we are all beholden to ever-changing social media platform policies, image compressions, character and word count limits and what feel like unfathomable, unhelpful algorithms. And to become a slave to feeding social media channels, for what, more Followers and Likes? Well, frankly, this has become increasingly unattractive to me. So, while I’ll continue to upload 2-3 images per week on Instagram and other channels, I’ll be diverting my positive sharing energies elsewhere.
I’m going to continue trying to improve my writing and upload more blogs about photography. In addition, I’m going to re-style my website portfolio and encourage viewers to see my images in a bigger, less compressed, more viewer-friendly environment. Most importantly, I’ll work on curating more photo-books, comprising short photo-stories and longer-term projects. I enjoy creating and sharing photographs in printed form. Photo-books are, in my opinion, the best way to preserve photographic stories and image collections in tangible, sharable form. They also hold viewer attention for longer and engage more of our senses.
As we head into 2021 the priority for all of us must, of course, be the health and well-being of ourselves, our loved ones and our wider associations. Let’s hope and pray that the various vaccines being distributed help bring an end to the pandemic and all that followed in its wake. But alongside the vaccines, let’s not forget that to improve our well-being, we must also be positive in our outlook and intentions moving forward.
For my part, I’ve decided to plan with confidence for a positive 2021, improving on what I had in mind at the beginning of this year before Covid-19 struck. To those of you who’ve valiantly read this far, I respectfully encourage you to try and do the same.