Weekly Post Challenge: “Habit”

It's About Thinking Where We're Going

It’s About Thinking Where We’re Going

I’m talking about street photography, as I so often do! While many, rightfully, obsess about how to do it I’m often preoccupied with the reasons of why to do it. It comes from my upbringing. I was always taught that there is a reason for things; a reason for doing things. I should be conscious of my actions because my actions have positive or negative consequences. Not merely act out of some instinct or meaningless habit.

Truth be told, not everyone thinks ahead. Some of us do but unfortunately don’t think far enough ahead when it’s actually possible. Getting into some sort of trouble is typically how life tells us that we’ve grossly lacked foresight.

Thanks life, for letting us know after the fact! That’s just what we need! You’re so awesome!

Oscar Wilde is well known for many quotes. One being: “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” Well, given some of his choices life, he really ought to have known. The blessed reality about his axiom; however, is that those who survive their mistakes are placed in a wonderful position to teach the rest of us to not copy their errors.

That said, not repeating history works well when we don’t arrogantly accuse the experienced ones of being hypocrites for not practicing what they preach. They’re only trying to save us from relying too much on that 20/20 hindsight.

I try to use art to make foresight a good habit.

Where I live, there is a grassroots effort (carefully trying to not say “movement”) to look at the city of Hamilton’s past to understand where most surviving things came from, discover what has been lost and complain about what might have been. One of the top ways this is done is to review historical photographs held by private collectors, public library and historical society and newspaper archives. We regard it as connecting with local heritage, and I know this happens in many other communities around the world.

For me, the only hang up about it is that it doesn’t seem to inspire serious consideration of the city’s future, and tomorrow’s prospects – as difficult as they are to predict, are important to me.

When I make sci-fi art, I’m often trying to envision a future so distant that it’s really hard to be certain of. Much closer to reality; when I do street photography at home or in some other city, one of my aims is to document how the place is now in hopes of instilling serious thought about the future.

Yes, although street photography is done viscerally there can be a meaningful purpose, and there is one for me. Just as there are photographic records of the past, there should be some of today. Not just so that future generations can use them to reminisce and bicker as we currently do but so that those pictures may hopefully also be used to help create a better tomorrow.


23 thoughts on “Weekly Post Challenge: “Habit”

  1. I often quote that same quote by OW, and here I like your conversation with life even better. You made me think Allan. The photo complements the text perfectly or is it vice versa.

  2. I love the Oscar Wilde quote. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, it’s entirely our own fault. I don’t think that people generally want to learn from other people’s mistakes. They seem determined to make their own. 🙂 Love the mood of this photo. I presume he’s looking down at his mobile phone. 😕

  3. You have captured the essence of street life in this picture. I love the posture of the guy walking away from us. As to why I think more photographers should ponder about the reason they take their photos. Nice post!

    • Thank you so much, Otto. I’ve been accused of overthinking things, especially for an artist. I have always felt; however, that morality and practicality have their places in the arts.

  4. To be honest, at first glance, I thought the picture was nothing. Why would Allan select this photo? Shadows are all over the place. There’s no feel of the temperature. All the other things in the picture are loose at first glance. Allan, your words magically turned this picture into a masterpiece. Your write-up takes me back to “A Lens on Life”. It tells us how true and serious of an artist you are. I guess, at times, I really find it hard to comprehend artists’ thought process of making a piece. Thanks for the reminder about making mistakes. From now on I’ll let the master be, and try to pause and try to understand a piece before jumping to conclusions. 😀 I especially love the frozen moment where his left foot is just about to touch the ground. 😉 I love this post.

    • Rommel, thank you so much.

      I agree that it’s not a tremendously profound image; one that’s shot vicerally — very literal to the approach to traditional street photography, but I think it was apt for this WordPress challenge. This shot will be part of Hammer Home.

  5. your opening words, powerful. unless taught early, its true, we act out of habit with not much thinking most of the time. your photograph really ties in well with the thoughts you shared here. thanks!

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