I am grateful that you have visited my blog. I hope your visit is a successful one. Please feel free to comment, contact or otherwise interact with the site and with me. I'm beginning to spread my wings photographically, so please take a look at Paul's Photos on Flickr (on the right). which will lead you to my presence on Flickr. Again, your comments, feedback or whatever are very welcome. Let us assist each other in our pursuit of our own truth, our own Dreaming. Peace!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's the Old Serendipity Trick Again!

Yesterday I posted a photograph and an old poem of mine on this blog. Nothing unusual there you might say, but quite the contrary my dear friends. You see, that post was meant for my other blog, which some of you may have been introduced to. No? Well it’s great. I mean the pictures on there are absolutely fantastic. You just have to see it for yourself. So, here’s the link.

Anyway, not wanting to stray too far from my train of thought I shall return to yesterday’s post and it’s ‘misplacement’ here. The inverted commas, quotation marks, or whatever the grammatically correct call them these days, suggest or should suggest that there was no misplacement. This despite my intention of posting the photo and the poem on my photo blog (called ‘Instants out of Time’ by the way). Let’s not call it misplacement; let’s call it serendipity.

Good word that. Serendipity. It suggests that there are no mistakes or accidents, that things happen as they are meant to, that the cards fall where they will. Well you get the picture eh? You see, last night I must have been a whole lot tireder than I thought I was. I went merrily about the task of posting that picture and poem to the other blog, not realising for who knows what reason that I was positing it here instead.

Indeed: who knows for what reason anything happens? As it turns out, a dear friend saw that post on this blog, and he is not yet following me on the other blog (some friends can be a bit slow with such things) and would therefore have missed the post. It had an impact for him you see. He read it, looked at the image and we’ve had a good discussion about it during which I have learned more about him, him about me, and me about me. Maybe him about him too. Who knows?

Yes, serendipity. The word itself is apparently very hard to translate into languages other than English. I can see why. Early definitions focus on it meaning finding something you didn’t expect to find, while more modern definitions talk about ‘accident’ and ‘chance’ and ‘fortunate’. I dig the old one better don’t you? I mean I didn’t expect to post on the ‘wrong’ blog, and my friend didn’t ‘expect’ such a post on this blog. All round a happy accident I think. (note: there are no such things as accidents!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

No More Wars. Please


My father, many times he hit me.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing.
My father hurt my sisters.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing
My father, he beat my mother
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing

My father had a shrink at 150 an hour.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing.
My father tried to get sane.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing.
My father, he kept his demons.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing.

My father used to run for trains.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing.
My father, one day thought he was late.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing.
My father ran hard for his train.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing

My father caught his train, of course.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing.
My father, his heart attacked him.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing.
My father, on his train he died.
But, hey, it’s a ’Nam thing

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Truth? Fiction? Or something in between?

Some of my friends are aware that recently I have become (for the umpteenth time as they say) once again interested in photography. Unlike those many other times, however, I seem to be taking it quite seriously and have actually sold a few (not many, alas) photos through a photo agency. I could even venture to say I am actually learning how to take better pictures. Now, that is a turn up for the books as they say (I mean who is the 'they' that says these things? I mean, really?).

At the same time, my acquisition of a couple of high quality lenses (and thank you here is due to my wonderful partner who is amazingly insightful of my needs and skills and extraordinarily generous as well) has pushed me to explore an old love: Street Photography, or as it is known to its devotees, SP. I have spent many many hours exploring SP websites, Flickr groups, online videos and blogs. It's a fascinating genre and one that has got me really thinking deeply about all kinds of things, from truth in picture taking to story telling, to ethics. As I say, all kinds of stuff.

Take this guy for an example. When I posted this photo on my Facebook site and on the Flickr groups I have joined I called the image "Shaded Reflections of a Country Man". Why I called it thus should be fairly obvious I think: he's wearing a "cowboy" type hat, he's got a beard and he has dark shades which accounts for the shaded reflections bit of the title.

I spotted this man as I sat and photographed a really groovy band outside a pub during a recent Celtic Festival in my town. He was pretty engrossed in the scene and he seemed to be really digging the music. He moved seats a couple of times, always avoiding tables at which other people were sitting. In other words I made an assumption that he was a quiet kind of guy, a loner really, just out for a beer and to listen to some live music. I guess this also is referenced by the shaded reflections bit of the title and attests to the cleverness of my captioning!

But, how much, if any, of this is true? I mean, how do I know he is a country man? How do I know he's reflecting? In truth I only know my own guesses, my own assumptions about this fellow. And for an artist who is seeking to find and to tell the truth this brings up some fundamental issues. Do I have a right to "brand" this guy with my own story? Wouldn't I have been wiser and more honest had I talked to him, to have him tell me his story? Did I have the right to be taking his photo in the first place?

All good questions, and I have no hope of answering them here and now. Nor do I really wish to do so. Not now anyway. I make certain assumptions as I go about my artistic practice; what I mean is, I am directed by a set of guiding principles. Two of the biggies are, do no harm, and try at least to tell or record some essence of the truth. On the first, this image passes without a worry: I have not hurt this man; nor has titling the image in the way I have been harmful to him. I suspect any person of good will would get a chuckle at the very least out of being photographed and labelled in this way.

On that second criterion, however, I am on shakier ground. I have recorded his "physical" image just as he was that day. No problem there. But what if he isn't a country man? What if he didn't have a thought in his head (ie no reflections)? What if he isn't a loner but merely out alone? What if it's all a total fiction? Well, we can't know the answers here can we?

There is one way we could find out isn't there? This guy, or someone who knows him, just might come across his image, which is now spread far and wide across the WWW. Then we might meet him and know his story. His true story.

Now, I personally would very much welcome that contact. In the meantime, the very idea is a trip isn't it? And, for a second meantime, I continue to ask the hard questions. The answers will or won't come as they are meant to.

Peace and love to you all

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Say & I Do

Well the time has come for to make good on my promise to return to this long neglected blog. I don’t want to get into the all the reasons I’ve not been diligent for so long; suffice it to say, time goes by sometimes at a great speed, and leaves us behind. It is a lesson right there in being here and being now, don’t you think? I would also like to say thank you to all those who have followed this blog even as it’s lain here forlorn and neglected by me. I hope I can make up for it from now on.

So, the topic for this renewed blogging effort? Let me share with you the experiences of the last day or so. Well, the story begins in I think it was October last year when the local council held a meeting to gauge interest in the idea of setting up a kind of peak body for the arts. A sort of arts council to help develop arts and artists in our really really rural area. I went along and was swept away on the tide of enthusiasm and passion.

And we began, several of us, to put together a not for profit group, form a committee and all the other mundane stuff that goes with the establishment of such bodies. In due course, I was elected to the committee as membership officer and, as few people stepped forward to nominate, took on the role of treasurer (despite never having done treasuring before).

Anyway, last night we held our third monthly committee meeting, at which we thrashed out the constitution and other such bureaucratic stuff. Also, I was tasked with reporting the activities of the newly formed Events Sub-Committee and our tentative and vague plans for a mini arts festival to launch our new initiative with a bang.

To cut this long, and perhaps not so interesting, story short, I will cut to the point. Immediately I opened my mouth to deliver our report several voices were raised with objections, frustrated questions, puzzlement over what I was talking about, and generally bad vibes hit me from all over the room. Now, these very same people had actually voted unanimously to have us proceed to plan a festival on their behalf, so naturally we assumed that we had their approval to go ahead.

Well, no such luck. I ended up suggesting that as none of us on the sub-committee had ever organised a festival before, and many of the others in the committee were artists who had, that maybe some of them would like to come along and help us with their brilliant ideas. Well, should I hold my breath for any of them to come along? In short, no.

I resigned from the committee and want nothing more to do with it. I realised in a flash for the millionth time in my life that life is too short to put up with such negativity and it’s too short to go on saying you want to do something and then not do it when you’ve been given the chance.

Isn’t it the old story? Lots of goodwill and ideas get floated, but few step forward to enact them. And what changes? Well, nothing really. Oh, there is one thing that does change: good people who do want to stand up, act on behalf of an idea or their community, work themselves to exhaustion while others sit around and snipe from the sidelines. This committee, for example, has 15 members. But the roles of President, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, the task of sorting out all the necessary documents, writing the rules and constitution, setting up bank accounts and on and on, are all in the hands of just three people. Or now it will be two, now that I have resigned.

In my letter (email) I said that successful groups have people in them who cooperate, they don’t shout and they don’t criticise destructively; they help and don’t attack each other for percieived failures that they themselves could have easily have remedied had they bothered to step up to the tasks. One thing that really made me smile at this meeting was when one of the more vocal critics who had the harshest words, loudest voices and strongest criticisms of what I and my sub-committee fellows had done, reported that she in three months had done nothing with the particular sub-committee she is on. That made me smile ironically (I think that’s the word).

So, now I have started back with this blog. I feel that as an artist my role is to communicate ideas, to express concerns and to create, and not to destroy or tear down. That is surely the way of truth and honour. I may not always do what I say I’m going to, but I give it my best efforts. After all, who can say that they are able to do more?

Peace and love to you all