the inconvenience of ideas


It's four thirty in the morning and I can't sleep. I woke up half an hour ago and haven't been able to fall back asleep since. Knowing my body I could just lie in the dark and become increasingly frustrated that I can't sleep because my mind is too active, or I could do something productive with this period of wakefulness. That is what I am choosing to do.

There has been lots going on in my life recently and I've been busy to a point that I haven't felt like I've had time to properly document it. This is a shame because even though I think that during the moment I was present, because I used to write down or photograph things in my life as they happen... that being present wasn't really enough. Documentation is part of how I process things - it's part of how I continue to think about things after they happen. It's funny, because part of the reason I think my body woke up is because my dreaming was too real. In fact I was dreaming about how I would document the Open Data meeting that I'm going to later this morning. In my mind I was visualizing the shots I would get with the video camera, thinking about what lenses I would bring with my SLR, imagining the angles I would shoot so that I would make a bunch of people sitting and talking tech seem interesting. And that's about when I woke up, once I started to think about how I would piece together the footage of the event into a cohesive media piece. I wouldn't be complaining except my sleep is precious.

Really though, I'm not all that bothered by my waking up because of some sort of creative thought process. Sometimes ideas and inspiration arrive when it is least convenient. Ideas can interrupt - and sometimes we can shelve them for later, but at other times if we don't give them the attention they need they may pass. Being photographically inclined I know a bit about this. Images are sort of like ideas. A good opportunity for a photo may present itself, but depending on when we wait to capture it certain aspects about that image may have changed. This is just like an idea, where, depending on when we decide to pursue it, it may still have the same basic structure, but certain details about it have changed.

Take these three photos for example. They are all the same basic idea. Each image is of the view from the window by my desk at home. The window overlooks the parking lot of the shopping complex across the street, but just behind that parking lot is a row of apartment buildings. When I am sitting at my desk, all I can see is that particular stretch of building with a peaked roofline and the hint of the neighbourhood that stretches out behind them, above it, an expanse of sky. However, depending on when I chose to photograph this view, the image has changed. Some days the sky is an intense shade of blue and dominates the photo, other times the mood is gloomy and the clouds are low in the sky, other days the weather has turned cold and snow covers the rooftops.

point of view

telework in progress

autumn is missing

Basically, this same image is made slightly different by the time I chose to document it. And once again, these images can be made even more different if I choose to revisit them after that initial moment of creation to edit and revise. But these subtle differences in view can only be noticed by people who can see out this window and even so, not everyone would take the time to actually make a point of noticing. We don't always get to see things from this particular point-of-view. But that's the benefit of sharing, you may get some value out of the way I see things. I get value out of documenting these details. I think I need to take the time to share more, even if my inspiration to share happens to arrive at rather inconvenient times. This post is a prime example. It's now 5am. This is hardly what I would call a convenient time.