Finding Inspiration in the Lost Dimension / by Hilary Hann

Telling stories and giving meaning and life to my images are some of things that  remain a prime driving force when I’m creating my art.  Days blend into weeks and the folder fills slowly with images whose title contains the word “rejected” along side the file number.  Ideas that I thought were interesting and creative look boring and two dimensional.   The frustration can reach such a high level that giving up on the idea and changing direction becomes very attractive indeed. 

Fortunately there are a small number of photographers and writers to whom I turn, whose work helps to redirect and refocus me.  One of these is Guy Tal and he never fails to say something that speaks straight to my heart.    One of his recent dissertations entitled “The Problem With Moments”  encouraged me to think about my own feelings when out in the field shooting, and why I find it so therapeutic, even addictive.

“So often I find myself engaged in a composition, thinking and refining and contemplating, when my subject remains static, when nothing other than my thoughts is changing, where Mr. Cartier-Bresson would have died of boredom waiting for a decisive moment; and yet I am so elated and immersed in the experience that no other thought even enters my mind. Worries disappear, discomforts never registers in my conscious mind, and nothing else deserves attention until after the click of the shutter.”  Guy Tal

At this stage of my artistic career, the huge disappointment comes when you have these ‘decisive experiences’ and then struggle to convert them into meaningful art.  Sometimes you can have such belief in a project that you suffer a certain grief when you slowly realise that it will never amount to anything significant and you have to let it go.  When that happens the inclination to walk away and do nothing but eat chocolate is overwhelming and the creative block can go on and on for a long time.  It is the urge to say something meaningful which always pulls me back to try again.

As many of us do, I look at hundreds of photographs each week, in the genres I’m interested in, especially as it is made so easy now with Facebook pages and online sharing sites.  Perhaps I am missing something but very few capture a spirit or meaning in their images and I find that leaves a certain emptiness.  The chase for recognition on social media and the competition for ‘likes’ leaves me cold and I see it only encouraging the sharing of superficial images rather than the thoughtful ones which require some involvement on the behalf of the viewer.  But that is only my view of course and I often find myself engaging in the very same behaviour, to my frustration,

And so I continue with my own self discovery and a burning desire to say more than the obvious with my work.  I’ll continue to attempt to connect my ‘decisive experiences’ with the stories I feel so that I can bring that lost dimension to my images.  I hope I have enough years left to learn my craft well enough!

If indeed the practice of photography fails to elicit such states of flow, it may well be because so many are concerned with decisive moments rather than decisive experiences; with anecdotes rather than stories; with external affirmations rather than inner meditations. .”  Guy Tal