Posted on April 30, 2012
At last! The rain has given us glorious pause and the sun shone all day. There were times I thought she would give up and let the grey clouds swallow her up again, but she didn’t. How welcome was this sunshine after two dreary weeks of rain! I decided to go for a walk into town via the scenic route and I took some snaps with my trusty ‘phone along the way.
I hope you don’t mind, I just wanted to share this moment with you:
Somehow, after the rain, the air feels fresher. New smells fill my nostrils. The warm musty sweetness of Spring reawakening. Earthy-mineral tones rise up and mingle with the honey-rich blossom. There is nothing more delicious than the smell of the world waking up after the rain. The colours are vibrating, reinvigorated. Everywhere is animated and teaming with life generously renewed by the rain. The trees stand taller; the grass prouder; the bees are buzzier; the blossom frothier.
Welcome back fluffy white, cornflower blue, lush green, sunshine yellow and candyfloss pink! It’s been far too dull here of late! Welcome back Spring!
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: nature, photography, rain, Spring, sunshine, weather
Posted on April 29, 2012
There’s no place like home…
It’s been a grey, rainy week, which has forced us to spend more time than is healthy indoors. Consequently, our house is sort of starting to resemble a toy shop after a whirlwind has whipped through it, sucked up its entire contents and spewed them all out again. There are toys, and small tiny child things everywhere. I thought, well, if you can’t beat ’em… and so decided to start photographing the mess.
It got me thinking.
My daughter has a fetish for lining things up. Her eclectic collection of sea creatures, ponies, Barbie dolls, sparkly things and mini beasts are constantly being ordered and organised. They accompany her everywhere: in the car, to the shops, at the dinner table, on the sofa. She also recently acquired a small coconut which Alex had bought to use in our dinner one evening. Her wide, innocent eyes looked on that little brown hairy thing with a pointy nose and two eyes and a mouth (who knew coconuts had faces?) as a new plaything. She immediately consolidated it into her growing entourage with great enthusiasm, much to our surprise and amusement, naming him ‘Nutty’ (Nutty had a friend too, but he, erm, has now sadly departed us to join his small hairy coconut friends in the sky… and yes, there were A LOT of tears shed when daddy got the axe out).
Children are collectors. They are magpies. They like things. Their things are important to them: through them they are informed about their material surroundings; they learn about possession and play; they form part of their identity and they feed their imagination. Their toys are their imaginary friends, their sensory feedback, and their comfort in their small worlds.
Throughout childhood toys are chosen and chewed, cuddled and crushed, traded and trusted, pampered and petted, forgotten and found…. and forgotten again. Attachments are made which will last a whole lifetime; a sugar-sweet honeypot of memories to dip into as we grow older and perhaps we need that extra splash of colour in our lives that children just seem to radiate naturally. Those are times when nostalgia makes us yearn for that familiar feeling of security which childhood provides like a soft, worn blanket.
Toys, for children are wonderful, colourful, comforting, safe, tactile players on the stage of their imaginations.
Childhood is saturated in glorious Technicolor. Remember that scene from the wizard of Oz when Dorothy first opens the door onto munchkinland? Oh the assault on the senses of that too-rich, too-vibrant, blinding colour! These are the colours of the yellow brick road and the ruby-red slippers, the sky blue of her dress against the chestnut brown of her hair, and the emerald-green of the emerald city and, of course, of the rainbow…. These, I imagine, are the colours of a child’s dreams.
As we grow older our urge to collect and acquire is focussed into more ‘grown-up’ pursuits. We buy houses, cars, technology, jewellery; ‘accessories’ to enhance our lives.
It’s sad although inevitable, perhaps, that as we grow up into adulthood we start to lose that sense of wonder and excitement about the world that a child has, but I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to re-live that now through my own children. My own childhood wasn’t always idyllic of course, but, I like to sometimes look back through a vignette frame and re-capture those golden-hazed childhood memories.
There’s no place like home
*click, click, click*
(yep, I still really really want those ruby slippers…)
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: Childhood, memory, phenomenology, photography, toys, Wizrad of Oz
Posted on April 27, 2012
There are two windowsills near my side of the bed. I tend to use them as temporary bookshelves/dumping grounds for various bits and pieces I haven’t found the time or energy to create a home for. I will say upfront feel I am exposing myself a little here, as quite a messy (and possibly also schizophrenic) person. I do like things to be clean, but my mess doesn’t really bother me (anyone else’s is another matter, of course). As long as I know where everything is (which actually isn’t always the case – I am always losing things) then I am happy.
Anyway, these are my little nooks of ‘stuff’ – my notebooks, my eclectic ‘current’ reading shelf, my going out bags, my library books, my (some unopened) recent Amazon purchases – which I like to have ‘to hand’. Although, I’m not sure about the gloves… really we haven’t worn gloves for a good couple of months. I do actually need to put them away.
So, where is your little nook? What does it look like? I would love to see pictures, but I’m not sure you can post pictures as a response on here?
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: books, bookshelves, home, mess, nooks, photography, stuff, windowsill
Posted on April 24, 2012
Is a photograph just surface? Or can it penetrate deeper? Can it convey texture and layers of meaning?
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: abstract, material, natural world, photography, texture, urban
Posted on April 22, 2012
So, I’ve been blogging for two weeks now, and after my initial posting frenzy I have decided that I really cannot manage to post every day. The housework is starting to suffer, I can’t find anything, the washing pile is taking on a life of its own, and the children are, well, just hanging off me, literally, at any given opportunity. I get the message: they are starved of attention. I’m feeling bad, and things need to settle down now into a gentle, manageable rhythm – more moderato than presto, let’s say. With that in mind I have decided to limit my posting to three times a week (hopefully quality, not quantity, in the spirit of Friday’s post – see below), and I’m going to aim to do two shorter posts and one longer one each week (but, of course, I reserve the right to completely change my mind about all of that at any point in time).
Anyway, let’s get back to the point of this post which is not really about photography or phenomenology (directly, at least). The title is inspired by this lovely poem Colour Outside the Lines, by Jared Louche:
I was always told to colour inside the lines,
but sometimes lines just confine your mind.
From somewhere far down in the orange deep
I start to see new colours flowering all around me.
Confusion looks like black static-scrapes
on crinkled, white, burned-edge paper scraps.
Sleep’s always coloured deep-ocean green,
rivers of copper tug me through lavender dreams.
Bubblegumblebees swirl from my head
When I’m being silly in bed;
electric red-yellow wasps start to drone
when I’m an angry screaming cyclone.
Thinking hard at doing maths, my head follows
pencil-thin, jagged, rust-red paths.
Shouts are nasty, silver daggers stabbing
Huge policeman’s blue hands grabbing.
Whispers slip out on a crisp, cream strip
with chocolate-brown writing typed across it.
Snores have wide, blazing tiger bands.
Boredom has no colour but fog-grey on wet sand.
Birds chirp chatty, blue paint chips.
Dog barks are cloud-white with dawn-golden sparks.
Trucks rolling by burp grouchy black splashes.
Bicycle bells ring in shaky pink flashes.
Thunder blows a splatter of sickness-green grim,
brushed throughout in a bruised-blue trim.
Boiling kettles make tiny neon-yellow fish that swim.
When I sing a song,
a long string of loud,
rowdy colour explosions
slowly go floating
past my nose and
hilarious horns brightly
pop purple spikes.
Drums’ black splashes and
guitars roar orange-red slashes clash,
blue fuzzy bass feathers fly by and
white flecks of dry piano bone-specks
spatter across the mixing mess.
Glorious, glorious, colourful mess,
But music’s the colour I love the best.
It’s a wonderful, vibrant, symphony of colour. When I read it I think of a child allowed to run wild and just create: sing, paint, make music, dance in all the glorious clashing colours of the rainbow. And don’t we, when our children are little, encourage them to run wild with bright colours, to just be creative without restriction or adhering to form? But then, as they grow up and go to school, something happens and we start expecting them to conform. We start expecting them to be neat; to colour between the lines.
When my son was three he went to pre-school. We were living in Italy at the time. I remember one day his nursery teacher pulled me aside and expressed mild concern at the fact that he struggled to keep his colouring between the lines. She was so kind and looked so earnest about it and I remember nodding my head and trying also to look concerned, but inside I was wondering why on earth this was so important, that my son who was only 3, and just wanted to run around and be wild, should be able to pick up a crayon and colour in a picture without going over the lines. I shrugged my shoulders and assumed that it was some kind of cultural thing and decided not to worry about it. Now that he is 6 and I know much more about the education system, I understand completely why that teacher expressed concern. Of course, colouring is a pre-cursor to writing and we encourage nice neat colouring in schools and nurseries so that children will develop their vital fine motor schools that will allow them to in turn develop nice neat handwriting later on.
Except of course there are some children, like my son, who have no desire to conform, and no interest in learning to colour between the lines. For them, school is a long, hard battle of wills.
Last night, Alex and I had a rare night out in London to have dinner with some old university friends. The red wine was flowing, and as we picked at our tapas we got to chatting about all the extracurricular stuff we were up to. One of us plays lead guitar in a band and does gigs, the other is taking acting classes but has dabbled in singing too, and another is getting involved in her local community, doing a course in permaculture, volunteering in her local amateur theatre group, teaching youth theatre workshops and writing screenplays (she’s a busy girl). Alex is also very much into doing photography, but also painting, and his music (we have about eight guitars in the house, all of which he plays – we joke that they are breeding). And of course I am doing my blog and photography. This is all in our spare time, on top of holding down full-time jobs. (That is apart from me as I work part-time, but I like to think the children and the housework more than make up for the other 60% of my workload.)
We wondered why it was, that at this point in our lives, in our mid 30s, we have started to feel the need to reignite our latent creative urges, which have probably for most of us pretty much lain dormant since at least our free and easy university days if not since early childhood. None of us really do particularly creative jobs for a living, but we all felt the need for some kind of outlet in our spare time (or indeed, perhaps because of this). And we all felt like we had mostly suppressed our creative sides for so long for fear of not being taken seriously, or not being very good, or lack of confidence, or lack of time, or a combination of all of the above. It is quite scary to veer off in another direction and do something new. It takes more than a bit of courage.
It’s almost as though a fresh surge of creativity has welled up from deep inside us at the same time. Yet this time, there is an urgency about it. The lazy arrogance of youth has dissipated and its place there is determination and necessity. There is a sense that this is our last chance to get it all out while we are all still young-ish, and able and full of energy-ish. But it runs deeper than that, too. Many of us at a certain point in our lives realise that maybe we might want to try walking that alternative path that we could have taken, but didn’t for whatever reason. Maybe, like me, your parents or your teachers discouraged you from following more creative subjects at school because they weren’t ‘academic’ enough and were unlikely to secure you a place at a ‘good’ university or give you those elusive ‘opportunites’ to forge a decent, respectable career.
I loved art at school. It was my favourite subject along with English, but I never took art A-level because it was just never really valued as a subject. And people (even teachers) would say, well what are you going to do with art? How crazy is that, really? And how crazy is it that vulnerable, immature 16 year olds who know nothing of the world are forced into making life-limiting decisions like that which will ultimately fashion the path they will take in life. These are the first steps we take in narrowing our choices in life rather than broadening them, and narrowing our minds.
Education is the key factor here, of course. The other day I came across a talk on TED by Sir Ken Robinson (I love TED talks – I have the app on my iPhone and watch them whenever I can snatch twenty minutes here or there) on the subject of how schools kill creativity in our children. His premise is that the global education system stifles creativity in our children in order to prepare them for an ‘ideal’ life of academia. But of course in reality this is not the kind of route that all children would desire to take, or indeed should. Why do we pressurise our children into aiming for a university education, why do we prize that above all else, when a university education doesn’t really get you a job anymore?
We are failing our children because we are not preparing them for an uncertain future, where creativity and the ability to innovate will be the most valued skills we can offer to the job market. For me it is also simply about teaching our children to be true to themselves. This is the key to creating happy, well-rounded, succesful individuals. The speech is fascinating, inspiring, sad and hilarious (I defy you not to laugh out loud at the anecdote about the girl drawing a picture of God). I highly recommend checking it out.
So I will try, (tenuously?) to bring this back to photography. I have actually been thinking about these points a lot with reference to the subject. The photograph I have included today is a picture of one of my son’s drawings. He likes to fill the page to bursting with lots of colour and lots of intricate detail. He often adds bits of torn paper with writing. It’s almost as though he cannot be contained by a piece of A4. There is everything original about this picture – my son conceived it, and coloured it himself, but there is nothing original about the photograph. It is a picture I have stolen from ‘real life’. This is something which I both enjoy and find frustrating about a photograph at the same time: it can’t exist in its own right, and (unlike other art forms) it has to be contained by its own form. I don’t wish to enter into a debate about whether photography can be art (I think unquestionably it can be), but I do question whether it can ever be truly original. You can’t colour outside the lines of a photograph… can you?
And if you can or could, what would that kind of photography look like?
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: art, children, colouring, creativity, education, Jared Louche, Ken Robinson, photography, poetry, TED
Posted on April 20, 2012
Distillation. Stripping things down. Trusting your intuition. This is what this post is about. It is a topic which has been on my mind a lot recently. Not just with regards to photography, but my whole life, the world and everything (I like to think big). I’m talking metaphysical stuff, here.
Recently Alex and I had to make a tough decision. It was one of those crossroads moments, which forced us into thinking really long and hard about our future and that of our children, and ultimately deciding what we wanted that future to be. We were not ready to do this kind of thinking and to be honest it kind of brought us to a standstill. Either choice would set in motion a chain of events which would be life changing. Which path would we take? It was not an option just to ignore this thing that had reared its ugly head. I spent a lot of time thinking by myself, I talked to Alex, to family and friends, I made long lists of pros and cons, I cried (quite a lot)…. in the end though, exhausted and emotionally drained, I was still left with the decision which needed to be made: no-one else could do that for us. And that is quite a scarily big responsibility for someone who generally just likes to bumble along and go with the flow of life, happy to sway in whatever direction the wind is blowing me.
This time, however, I realised that I really did not want to sway. Things that sway are weak and fragile. I wanted to be a rock: immovable and solid. I listened to all the advice, and in the end I turned inwards. I tuned into the soundtrack of my body; the distant hum in the back of my head, the pounding echo of my heart, and the swirling swell of fluids in my intestines. Sometimes, it is braver to not do the thing that everyone expects you to do. Harder, definitely, but braver to stand still and face the force of the wind. So we are here, standing still, stronger (I hope), and ready to deal with everything that decision might throw up against us.
A while ago I read an article in The Guardian Weekend magazine by Oliver Burkeman about a way of thinking based around reducing everything in life to two things. (One is too few, three too many). Apparently it is possible to apply this two-rule thinking to every subject. I was immediately attracted to this idea given I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, and so have been attempting to practice it ever since. When it came to our decision-making I settled, in the end on the following two salient questions:
The answer to both questions turned out to be no, and after that, the decision was fairly straightforward.
So, now I’m going to take a little diversion (sorry, this is a long one, but I need to get it all out, and I promise I won’t lose you along the way – I’ll deliver you right back to the start when we’re done). I’m turning back to photography in order to attempt to illustrate this point in a different way. To Polaroids, by Walker Evans, in fact.
I have to admit that this is a book I have been itching to write about ever since I started this blog, partly because I feel like these images convey so much of what I want to say about seeing and being and phenomenology and all that, but partly also because I just love them. I don’t own many photobooks, but this is one I really treasure. Every so often I get it out and look at it and it gives me immense pleasure. I feel like I’m feeding my eyes with those little 3 inch squares; they are like visual poems to me.
So, before I talk about why I choose to write about it, here is a little bit of background about the book itself:
Towards the end of his life, tired and physically frail, Walker Evans decided to put his fading energies into one last photographic project using the Polaroid SX-70. He photographed everyday things around him (as was his style): found objects, road signs and road markings, churches, buildings, work colleagues and friends.
(by the way sorry about the slight texture and glare on the images. I had to photograph them from the book as I don’t have a scanner to hand)
What he liked about using the Polaroid camera and the images it produced was that they allowed him to look at the world with a renewed clarity. Uncluttered by mechanics and unburdened of the chore of having to process and print his images, he found a new impetus. The images he made were honest, without pretence. The simplicity of the medium and aesthetic freed him – both physically and mentally – and he was able to enjoy making pictures again with his new ‘toy’. In the forward to the photobook Jeff L.Rosenheim describes its effect on him as thus:
The camera’s instant prints were for the frail artist what scissors and cut paper were for the aging Matisse: the catalyst for a new, provocative, chromatically elemental, yet profoundly inventive body of work.
Evans was quite clear though, that it is important to ‘do all that work’ before attempting to turn to Polaroid making:
It reduces everything to your brains and taste… you have to know what you’re pointing it at, and why – even if it’s only instinctive
I think what he is saying is that you first need to develop your viewpoint as a photographer; train your eyes (practice, lots), if you like, before you should be let loose with a Polaroid camera. Partly because there is no skill involved in taking a picture, it takes a whole lot of skill to know what to point it at.
In his excellent book Introduction to Phenomenology, Robert Sokolowski explains how phenomenology can help us to deconstruct perception as layers of meaning, both “actual and potential” (p.20). Though an object is whole in one sense, it is also made up of “layers of differences”. The object (he uses the faces of a cube as an example) is both a ‘whole’ and a sum of its parts at the same time. Or, we could put it another way and say that things inherently contain objectivity as well as subjectivity, which we project onto them. So a tree can be a whole tree, but it is also its branches, leaves, or whichever part we care to focus on and choose to use to represent as ‘tree’. This is because when we look at a branch or a leaf we understand that it has come from a tree, so a tree can be a tree in its complete whole entirety, and it can also be represented by its independent entities (p 23).
I think that this is what we do when we point a camera lens at something; we make a selection – we play with perspective and viewpoint. We are able to select a piece or part of an object and effectively bracket it from its whole entity to suit our own (subjective) purposes. I may choose to photograph a flower but I would not necessarily choose to photograph it in the same way as another photographer; whereas I may decide to take a close up of a petal, another might photograph the whole thing, or find a different perspective (from above, from below) dependent on our personal style and what meaning we are attempting to convey. We, then as photographers, like phenomenologist, are continually searching and scanning to see the detail of our world from different angles to try to understand our place in it a little better.
Pieces, then, are parts that can become wholes. (p.23)
These ‘pieces’, however, are to be distinguished from ‘moments’ which, on the other hand, cannot be detached from their whole. They are “nonindependent parts”. Sokolowski uses colour as an example of a ‘moment’. It cannot exist independently of its attached object or surface. This is true but of course, in reality, a photographer can very easily take the colour red say from a wall which is painted red and appropriate it. We may not know that ‘red’ was actually a painted wall but the photographer has, by means of selection and framing, created something other; a new object: the material surface of a photograph.
Framing and perspective then are useful both on a practical and conceptual level here. What Evans’ final work teaches us is that finding new ways of seeing and looking – which might involve limiting our viewpoint instead of expanding it – for some time can inspire an abundance of creativity. Those words: “It reduces everything to your brains and taste” are key here. This body of work is an example of the absolute distillation of a lifetime of seeing and devotion to the purity of form.
There is something about limiting your perspective which I think can paradoxically be incredibly liberating and incredibly productive for photographers (but I think also in all creative mediums). And I believe it is not only a useful but even an essential undertaking in a world which delivers an intense saturation of input to our overwhelmed and overstimulated brains. We really need to find ways to sift and sort and filter out the nuggets of gold amongst the grit. We need to order and organise by way of form. It is both a comfort and a necessity to turn our backs on the onslaught occasionally and just clear our minds, reduce everything to what is essential.
In my own
photographic practice snapping I have limited myself to using just one lens for the past two years (a 40mm prime lens). I have got so used to it that I have forgotten what it is like to have the luxury of different lens choices. Although I have to admit it was partly an economically driven decision, there was also a curiosity to see how it would challenge my eye. I have mostly found that, even though there are situations when the lens doesn’t really work for me, it has made me train my perspective to find alternative shots that work for the lens. So I am thinking about my image making more, being more creative, but I also don’t feel the need to take lots and lots of pictures all the time. This is the double-edged sword which digital photography brings with it: you can just keep on snapping, indefinitely… and I’m not really sure if that’s a good thing. When we are taking pictures we also need to know when to stop taking pictures. We need to train our eyes to know when to curb the flow and take that finger off the shutter, and sometimes just look, experience… just think about what we are doing a bit more.
Post prodction too, concision is essential. I think it is a useful life skill, not just good practice for creatives. We need to learn to pare things down to the bare minimum, to apply filters and alter our perspectives sometimes, and most importantly we need to edit, edit, edit ruthlessly and then, like an ironmonger forging a piece of metal with hammer and anvil, the sparks of impurity will fly away and what is left will stand stronger, purer, more authentic.
I guess the irony in all of this is that, as Evans pointed out, you do need to go through the process to get to that point of clarity. You need to “do all that work” first. And that for him was his life’s work. But of course that doesn’t make what he did before obsolete. The point is that it is an evolution; a constant sea change of refinement. In truth this discipline of redaction and reduction is not something that comes naturally to me. I tend towards verbosity when I write, and I find it desperately hard to step outside of my world-in-my-head and project some kind of coherent purpose out there (and of course time is always an issue). But this blog is a starting point, and definitely a positive one, I think.
Every subject can be reduced to two things.
So what would my two things be for the subject of photography?
The light, and the eye. Well, that’s all you need, right?
To finish, here is an instagram I snapped the other day (are instagrams the new Polaroids? I guess that’s a debate for another day). It’s a picture of a part of a skip. I thought it was kind of Walker Evans-esque, so a fitting final moment.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts. Do you agree with my two things? What would yours be?
Texts: Polaroids by Walker Evans (with forward by Jeff L. Rosenheim), Scalo, Zurich, 2002
Introduction to Phenomenology by Robert Sokolowski, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2000
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: creativity, editing, instagrams, perspective, phenomenology, photography, polaroids, The Guardian, two things principle, Walker Evans
Posted on April 18, 2012
I have always been drawn to the idea of making a portrait of someone by photographing the things they choose to surround themselves with. I think that our ‘stuff’ has a lot to say about us. Our houses, our posessions and even the way we display things are all like little clues which reveal something about our personalities, our preferences and the way we like to live.
My grandfather is an actor who has had a successful and varied career. He lives alone in London in a beautiful Georgian house. It is a house full to the brim of objects (many of great value) which he has accumulated throughout his life; acquisitions he has made, things he has inherited. He is an eccentric certainly, and a horder; a collector who loves beautiful things. Messy, maybe, but absolutely meticulous. Visitors have to carefully negotiate neat piles of papers, documents, ornaments, nik naks and bits and pieces which perch precariously – everywhere there is surface – on tables and chairs, and scattered across the living room floor. Things surround him constantly – he likes to have it all ‘to hand’. Every object is cherished and important to him; he keenly relates the story of each sculpture, or painting, or piece of random kitchen paraphernalia with equal passion. I love to hear these stories they are so compelling; like extra clues which unlock secrets of his past, and in turn, of mine.
His house is a treasure trove – a true Aladdin’s cave, and I love to visit and just look around. There is always something fascinating and new to discover. (some people would call me nosey – I like to say curious!) His environment communicates so much about him as a person. It’s almost like it’s alive with his being. Every time I visit he seems to have shrunk a bit more; he looks smaller and smaller sitting there in his armchair amongst all the piles and the abundance of things. I guess one day eventually the house will swallow him up completely.
It’s funny because I would say I usually tend towards being the kind of person who gets a bit stressed out by too much mess, but I absolutely love his mess. I feel at home amongst it. (You may be forgiven for thinking we are very close – we are not, as it happens, but though there is emotional distance there is respect, and, of course a resonant familial connection).
These images were taken the last time I was there in November. They were some snapshots I made in the fading afternoon night of a cold winter’s day (I had an idea to test out some images and think about making a project of it at a later date). Everything was where it was (I didn’t place anything – I didn’t need to) and everywhere you looked there was a great photograph to be made. His house has vast, beautifully restored Georgian windows and when the light floods in the whole interior just reveals itself to you – it is just beautiful.
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: black and white, collecting, family, home, objects, photography, Portrait
Posted on April 17, 2012
I am one of those people who enjoys sleeping – who actually really definitely NEEDS to sleep. Quite a lot. I look forward to it as much as anything else. It is right up there in my top five past-times along with writing and reading and doing photography and eating. It’s not so much that I am lazy, rather that I am just a bit of a sleepy person. It’s physiological, I’m sure (at least I have managed to convince myself of that). And my body really really protests at early mornings. It goes into a state of shock, and generally refuses to jolt into an acceptable state of being (although ‘jolt’ is probably over-egging it somewhat, really it’s more like trying to coax a startled rabbit out from behind the sofa. Gently, gently does it) until somewhere around 10.30am, after several cups of tea. At this stage I may be able to manage food, and quite possibly a coherent conversation. I may have also managed to abandon that dazed, dreamy, slightly dishevelled morning countenance. It is unfortunate for people who bump into me before that time in the morning (which is usually quite a lot) and especially unfortunate for those who work with me – notably because most days I only work mornings.
When I was younger I used to commute into London to my HR job in Green Park. As you can probably imagine, for someone like me this was quite a traumatic experience (almost nervous breakdown inducing – I left after 2 and a half years to seek solace in academia). Catching up with my old boss over the weekend she joked about how I used to remind her of a sleepy dormouse, slightly put out that it had been disturbed and forced to be somewhere it really did not want to be. I was a little bit alarmed when she said this. I mean, she was sort of joking but not really and then everyone else joined in and laughed and thought it was really funny in the way that you do when someone has just got someone spot on. I thought I had radiated more energy in my twenties, but clearly not.
You may wonder how I got through the baby years with my children: the night-time feeds; the refusing to settle; the shushing and patting; the teething…. well the truth is I’m not really sure. I existed, I think, but generally in some kind of semi-state. I was very tired all the time and despite what people said I never got used to it. Alex would probably say I was mostly quite grumpy. Now my children are old enough to understand I am not good in the mornings, which is a blessing. They do not protest if I secretly sneak back to bed after I have got their breakfast. I do quite well on the lie-in rota as well, because Alex is most definitely a morning person, and is easily convinced that my needs are greater than his. So generally these days I am better rested, and as a consequence much happier.
So today marked the end of the Easter holidays. No more lazy mornings in our pjs, no more lie-ins. My stomach did a little flip of protest when my alarm startled me out of my unconscious state. I rolled over to hit the snooze button and realised I had my daughter next to me, fast asleep. She often creeps into bed with me in the early hours of the morning. Sometimes she will wriggle and pester me until I give in and get up, but this morning she snuggled down and went back to sleep. So it was quite a rare and lovely moment to have her sleeping peacefully in my bed. I couldn’t resist snapping her with my phone because she just looked so serene and, well, asleep (and you can’t see it here, obviously, but she was snoring very gently too, which was very cute).
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Posted on April 16, 2012
I love the beach, and I love the sea. I love the way that it is ever-changing, but constant. It always makes me feel calm and present to be by the sea. Somehow its power and vastness reduces you to your essential being: small, insignificant, perhaps, but utterly grounded. When I am by the sea, I gain perspective; somehow everything makes sense and I am able to see more clearly. I understand my place.
I chose these images to attempt to convey that sense of simplicity, tranquility and anonymity, and I also enjoy exploring the textures and muted colours of the seaside. I am very inspired by Robert Misrach – I love the dreamy aesthetic of his On the Beach series, and the way he plays with perspective, reducing the humans to tiny specks contrasted with the limitless expanse of their surroundings.
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: beach, being, perspective, photography, Robert Misrach, sea, seaside
Posted on April 14, 2012
Alex and I were lucky enough to spend a few days chilling on the beach in Cancun, Mexico back in January. I put some of my iphone images (mostly instagram or vintage camera filters used here) into some colourful collages using picasa. I like the bold visual effect. Makes me want to be back on the white sandy beach enjoying that intense turquoise Caribbean sea with a margarita in hand…. ahhhhh….. 🙂
© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012
Category: Uncategorized Tagged: beach, cancun, caribbean, collage, instagram, iphone, Mexico, photography, vintage