All fired up … ‘photography blinds us to our surroundings’ … discuss

Howdy pardners. Hope you’ve been well. I’ve had a shocker in the last week including a broken toe and sickness but I’m starting to get back to it.

I’m all fired up this morning so I’m seizing the spirit while it’s got me moving and writing a blog post about it.

One of my bloggy friends, this fabulous lady who is ever-so-clever with words AND pictures flagged this video as one that might be of interested to creative types. I hope she won’t mind me ‘stealing’ it to share with you, but I got all worked up after watching it. While I try to convince myself that I’ve mellowed as I’ve gotten older …  I’m actually still quite fiesty. Once, I went to see a room in a sharehouse and when I got there they did my horoscope to see how I’d fit. When they let me know I’d been a warrior in a previous life I knew my chances of getting a gig in the house were pretty slim. But it certainly explained a few things! Anyway …. I digress. Back to the video that’s brought out the fiest.

I’ve watched it several times now and, putting it mildy, I say ‘objection your honour’. Except that because I’m from good ‘n’ proper convict stock really I say ‘fuck you, wanker’. By way of defence, I’ve responded below with the best way I know how – well apart from using a few choice sweary words – and that’s with my lens. I took these snaps about 12 months ago and had always planned to blog them at some point. But the words to tie them together just never came. Until now.

After a rather disparaging opening about photography, the video launches into a (questionably poetic) ramble about one poor bastard who has the gross misfortune of accompanying a wanker known as ‘the sketcher’ on a walk down a lane. We pick up the story at the point where we’re about to have enlightenment bestowed upon us by the superior being, ‘the sketcher’.

But what will the sketcher see? His eyes accustomed to search into the cores of beauty and penetrate the minutest parts of loveliness …

…observes how the showery and subdivided sunshine comes sprinkling down among the gleaming leaves overhead

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - light droplets

… till the air is filled with an emerald light

light through trees

… he will see here and there a bough emerging from the veil of leaves

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - plants - Gum leaves and raindrops

… he will see the jewelled brightness of the emerald moss

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - plants

… and the variegated and fantastic lichens

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - plants - Tree lichen

… all mellowed …

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - plants - critter

… and mingled …

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - plants - bark 2

… into a single garment of beauty

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - bark 1

… then come the cavernous trunks

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - sculpted fig

… and twisted roots

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - treedrop

… that grasp with their snake-like coils

Rachael Willis - the bowerbird girl - TPP nature - fallen leaves

… and steep bank whose turfy slope is inlaid with flowers of a thousand dyes

pretty shapes of the sticky beaks

… is this not worth seeing?
if you are not a sketcher
you will pass along the green lane
and when you come home again 
have nothing to say or think about it
but that
you went down such-and-such a lane.


What do you think? do you agree with John Ruskin (and ‘the sketcher’)? Has photography blinded us to our surroundings?


10 thoughts on “All fired up … ‘photography blinds us to our surroundings’ … discuss

  1. I think that using an argument from a critic from so long ago leaves the videos argument prone to logically fallacies.
    When I use my camera I search for all the things the “sketcher” searches for and capture things many people don’t notice.
    So many people like to slag off photography, whether it’s that nonsense or the silly idea that you’re not being “present” when taking photos.

    I wish I could dig up the information but I remember reading a study that said ADD /ADHDers tend to take many more photos than other people and that it aids in retaining and building their memories and helping to focus. So I’m probably biased in my love for and defence of photography.

    I adore your photos and am glad they aren’t sketches!

    • Aww thanks Lila, so kind. That is SUPER interesting about the photography ADD/ADHDers. How fascinating. Maybe it works on the same sort of logic about those that doodle have better recall about what is being said (another one of those things I read somewhere but can’t find). Yes, I agree, when he was rolling off his list about what the sketcher looks for or sees i was like ‘tick tick tick tick’. i dont’ have anything against those that sketch it’s totally a valid skill. Often when I go bushwalking with my niece and nephew we’ll take photos along the way then sketch when we get back. Their sketching is far superior to mine, there’s no question about that! Anyway, better go, i could rabbit on here all night about this!

  2. Well I think you nailed this w***er to his twisted roots! Stunning, dreamy, prize-winning photos here – said from one fabulous lady to another. My fav is that first one. Magic. I mean, obv I could sketch it better….joking!! What a great debate though eh? I’d love to have a sketch’n’bitch sesh over this with a bunch of peeps ‘IRL’. And thanks for the shout-out 😀

    • Oh you’re funny. Brilliant – sketch n bitch, that’s a great idea, you should totally start that up! It was an awesome thought provoker that’s for sure. By no means am i sketchist, but so judgey judgey! tsk tsk. I was happy to have occasion to dig these out – i kid you not they were sitting in a folder ready for a blog post … just the post never came. how funny is that.

  3. ah, yes, a warrior…I can see that… 😉

    What a load of poppycock – pfft! I focus on detail much more often from behind a lens. Details are my preferred things to photograph, actually.

    Yours is my fav photography Ms Bowerbird, please keep posting it, even if it is apparently inferior to sketching…

  4. I’d like to add to the discussion, as neither a “sketcher” nor a “photographer”, but a dabbler in all things (I wonder, could I knit a twisted root?)…I’d argue that I’ve never had a walk down such-and-such a lane. I believe that said w#*nker (aka The Sketcher) is possibly the archtype of a creative, but why not call him that? Or HER that for arguments’ sake. I think anyone wanting to be walking down that lane would take away from the experience something enhancing. I love the photographs you’ve chosen to illustrate the words dear lady, and besides…The Sketcher would never be finished sketching in time for tea and cake!!

    • Hey lovely, nice to hear from you. I kind of forget I have a blog most of the time … although … i have made a little snippy snappy video of some ghoulish pics so i might even shock horror (ho ho ho) do a blog post like soon. true, it probably is the archetype but it was just so bloody smug it really shit me to tears. I’ve always hated snobbery of all sorts I think it’s my strong rebellious convict roots. speaking of knitting twisted roots … I follow someone on insta that did a workshop with Shona Wilson. have you heard of her? The class was called collaborations with nature and it sounded pretty awesome – and not so far from your knitted twisted root (something about that sentence sounds very wrong). Now tea and cake. Oh my I could do with some of that right now.

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