One of the things I find myself photographing on my travels (even brief trips to a local restaurant) is food that is served to me. Some folks ask “How come?”. I’m always taken aback because it seems so obvious to me, but then upon reflection, I realize it is not. But I do have very good reasons to carry my phone to dinner with me each night and even at breakfast. It’s because beautifully plated food is art in its own right. The chef or even an ordinary cook has taken the time to carefully place food in such a way that it is not only beautiful to eat but lovely to behold. For me it’s one of the delights of cruising.
Often real effort is made to make food look as good as it tastes. When that doesn’t happen, I have to admit to being disappointed. On a recent cruise that was brought home to me far clearer than I expected. The food I was served was good (often very good), but I found myself dissatisfied. I couldn’t figure out why. I was not going hungry that’s for sure. The food was hot and tasty. But it wasn’t pretty.
One of the things I often photograph are flowers in my yard. Yes, they are pretty, but they are also temporal. That bloom will never appear again in the same way. By taking a picture of it, I capture that ephemeral moment. Food plating is exactly that. Within moments, the plate too beautiful to eat is disturbed with my first “bite” of fork. No longer is the perfect symmetry apparent. No longer are the complementary colors separated just enough to create impact. If I don’t record that event, it will be lost forever.
A secondary reason to record “food art” is that it also gives me a record of “ideas” to try at home. I’m not a good “plater” so I need all the help I can get. Reviewing what others have done gives me ideas to try at home. They act as great models and I think I’m actually getting better at it.
Meanwhile, I’ll continue to capture food for the eye as well as taste buds.
I’ll bet you never expected to see such a word as “neuroplasticity” in a photography blog particularly one devoted to taking pics of grands, gardens, and good places. But here’s the “thing.” Like so many others both young and not so young, I’ve been fighting mobility issues and the pain that comes with it. It’s kept me from doing lots of things I love like gardening, and it’s made me concerned that travel will become too difficult. As a result, I’ve been trying to get better while avoiding the surgery that is not a good idea for me.
Along the way, I’ve come across the term neuroplasticity which is defined as “the brain’s ability to modify, change, and adapt both structure and function.” As it regards pain, it is believed that “retraining the brain can diminish or eliminate chronic pain.” One of the ways to retrain the brain is to refocus on something other than pain – not ignoring it – but instead giving the brain something else to think about. Keep in mind that I’m no expert in any of this so don’t take this discussion as anything other than a photography blogger’s explanation.
However, as I was reading book after book and article after article, I suddenly remembered something that I’ve said countless times. When I am looking through my camera’s eyepiece, nothing hurts. No pain. No anxiety (other than that which comes when a hummingbird skitters away too fast to catch). No stress. At that “ah ha” moment, I realized that this is neurplasticity at work for me. My entire focus was on something other than what hurt or what worried me or what stresses were chewing on me.
And since this blog is not for professionals who probably have artistic worries I’ll never think about, I thought my fellow casual photographers might like to think about the benefits of taking pictures. Do you find yourself shrugging off the day’s worries when you are trying to record a grand’s birthday expression as the child blows out a candle? Are you able to forget the day’s disasters and deaths as shown on the 6 o’clock news while you record that incredible sunflower? Is one of the reasons you love to travel is because photographing interesting places lets you leave behind what worries you? If so, then treat your camera as a tool for healing and delight. It’s what I am doing. Not that I need that as an excuse but I surely consider it icing on the cake of life.
We’ve all seen those sitcom episodes where an unsuspecting guest is invited to see a family’s vacation pictures. It just goes on and on and on. The family loves it. There are countless “oh, yes, remember when dad fell off the cliff” comments. As someone who hadn’t been there, though, it’s mind numbing at best. So how does one take pictures you and others want to see? That’s the goal of this blog.
Search for photography on the web and you’ll find countless articles and blogs on how to be a great photographer. I love those discussions about lens choices and the right camera brand. But if I’m honest, I know that I’m just a bystander who likes to take pictures. Maybe that’s you too. If so, you’ve come to the right place. Here we will just talk about the commonplace problems those of us who just like to travel and then take home pictures from our adventures. We will leave the professionals to their field. This is ours.