In this podcast interview we will be talking to John Burnett, a photographer based in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
For me, photography provides a creative outlet, a form of rejuvenating therapy, and a contemplative exercise. I love the outdoors and new places and I’ll often simply photograph the picturesque and interesting scenes in front of me. At the same time, I’m keen to make images that transcend time and place, evoke emotions or memories, or provoke a new thought. If I’ve made an image or written something that strikes a chord with you, then I am pleased.
I was an avid photographer in the 1970’s, but the hobby fell by the wayside with life’s obligations. I began photographing again late in 2003 with a purchase of one of the first consumer-priced DSLR’s.
This month we will be trying to evoke emotion in our images by seeking out subjects that show “resilience”.
From the Webster Dictionary; “resilience – an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”.
Now not every subject would show the ability to recover easily, in many cases it is, could, or would have been hard and/or take a long time to recover from a difficult situation.
Take the plant that is growing on the side of this building, for instance, it’s something you don’t expect to see. You wonder how it grew, how long it took and how it’s able to stay attached to the building. It provides a bit of mystery to the image.
Many things can be thought of as resilient. Although the examples shown below are subjects that can be found easily in our daily environment there can be a deeper meaning to resilience such as; the impact on people, nature, infrastructure and the economy due to climate change, or the impact on people due to a lock down caused by a global pandemic such as Covid-19, and even the impact on people due to terrorism, civil unrest or a war. Images to express this type of resilience would typically be portrayed in a photo journalistic manner and in most cases require a collection of images to convey the story or invoke a call to action. Portraying this type of resilience is beyond the scope of this monthly theme.
Below are just some examples for ideas.
Rocks with Plants/Trees; With plants/trees growing out of rock crevices, how do they get enough nutrients to survive in this situation? How big will they grow and how long will they last? These are just some of the questions or feelings your images could say. There are many opportunities for this type of image, so just go out with your camera and keep an open mind.
Animals; Many animals work all day long gathering enough food to eat to just survive. The Kingfisher shown, for example, captured a field mouse which are in their diet but you typically see them diving for fish, however in the wild they eat when they can and what they can. The seal resting on the rock has a scarred tail, maybe from a boat or from fishing gear, but it is still surviving. The Owl hunts in any kind of weather because it needs to eat to stay alive. The Mother fox still has to get enough nourishment to feed it’s young, it must be difficult to feed so many pups. Go out as often as possible to see what you can find.
Life where you least expect it; How does a tree die and then a new tree start growing out of it? Even an apple tree growing out of the beach rocks, again how is that possible. As you find these types of subjects it will make you even more aware of your surrounding environment and maybe leave you in awe of nature.
Man Made Structures; Up to this point we have discussed living things, however man made structures can last a long time even though they show their wear. The image of the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse before it was recently painted, shows how these icons of the rugged shoreline have survived for many many years providing a beacon of safety for the ships that passed by. Many old barns still stand even after many years of neglect, it makes you wonder how they were constructed to be so resilient.
Stretch your mind and let’s see what images you create this month.
Students are encouraged to develop their ability to tell a story or invoke an emotion, as well as how to plan and troubleshoot while creating their images. As such it’s important to not only create the image but to also include a “title”, and write a short paragraph about; how they came up with the idea, any interesting back ground that compelled them to make the image, and describe any techniques on how they overcame any obstacles.
An important part of improving your photography is practice, which is one aspect of the monthly theme challenge, in addition you have an opportunity to learn about different genres, techniques and tips.