Focused on photography

Evaluation of my be-still experience

At the end of 2014 I announced my intended participation in Kim Klassen’s year-long course “Be still 52”, a course that was focused on creating still life images. As I told you at that time, after experiencing my 52-week photo project in 2014 I wanted to improve in planning, arranging, working with light, working with the depth of field, working with textures, I wanted to open my imagination more.

Have I met those expectations? Have I improved those skills? Here is my evaluation.

I haven’t fulfilled all of the assignments that we got in the course but for a change, I don’t feel guilty about it. I started the course with determination not to get stressed by any deadline but to go along the path and learn and it worked well. Sometimes I used the time that I had at my disposal to shoot my own ideas instead of dealing with the assignment of that particular week but mostly I was sticking to the still-life genre.

To encourage my creativity was definitely one of the aims of participating in the course and I’ve learnt that inspiration sometimes comes unexpected and it’s important to seize the opportunity and do what it asks.

I intend to keep the remaining assignments in reserve and hopefully to get back to those that I find interesting later, when I’m in need of inspiration. It wouldn’t hurt to get back to those fulfilled assignments either as there is still so much more to achieve. A different angle, perspective, light, props… Endless possibilities and appealing series.

During the course, Kim shared some of her Lightroom presets and encouraged us to use them, which generally helped me to work with Lightroom presets at all. When processing my still life photos, I like going through the presets and watching what the photos could look like. Sometimes a preset can be applied with just a slight tweak, sometimes none looks good with the particular photo, but even when none of the presets is applicable, the previews often give me an idea in which direction I should take the processing. It’s quite quick and easy and really helpful.

Participating in the course has helped me further not to be afraid of experimenting and sharing results of that experimenting. It has helped me to feel more confident, to be an author presenting their work without nervous trembling and fear of negative response. What a relief. I’m happy if you like what I created but if not, it’s fine, it’s just me, I find it equally important.

Still life photography has changed my attitude towards some old things. I grew up in quite a poor family and when I got married and started my own household, I loved to have everything new and modern. I still do. But I realized how beautiful and charismatic some of the old things are and feel enriched by that knowledge.

I’m quite sure I’ve improved the planning, arranging, working with light, working with depth of field, working with textures, I’ve opened myself to the imagination more… Nothing is perfect but it’s definitely better than it was a year ago. I’d even say that my (not only) still life photos are better than they were a year ago. Better created, better processed. I like them more.

I’ve noticed an interesting aspect of having participated in the course. I like Kim’s photography and somehow I expected she would teach me in the course how to create the images she does. And though she used her images in the course and described creation of some of them to demonstrate her ideas and processing, the result of my participation in the course is not imitating her style but finding my own ways how to open myself to creativity and listen to that inner voice of mine. Isn’t that awesome?

As you can see, I’ve been inspired by this be-still experience enormously. It all feels just like starting and I wish to continue shooting this type of photographs. I seem to be able to relate to the style and I’d love to get better. One year was definitely not long enough.

Kim shares not only her photography skills and techniques in her courses but also her philosophy so it seems right to conclude this post with a thought that Kim shared in one of her lessons and that I liked enormously. I even printed it and attached it to my pen holder at work to read it again and again, to remind myself of its wisdom. Take it with you.

“What are you feeding your creative soul?
What are you absorbing?
What you focus upon… you become.
What you focus on… comes to you.
Hold in your mind what you want more of.”
― Kim Klassen

You can find all my still-life inspired photos under the tag still life.