31 Days: Guest Post: Photography – taking up a new creative pursuit

Merchant's Arch - Dublin Copyright ©  John Ivory: All rights reserved

Merchant’s Arch – Dublin Copyright © John Ivory: All rights reserved

I promised you a writing exercise. It’s coming tomorrow and will be related to today’s post. I am very happy indeed to welcome to the blog, John Ivory, who I met through social media and have subsequently met in real life. John has recently been posting fabulous photographs on Facebook, they are of a tremendous quality but I knew that photography was something that he’d recently taken up. Thinking here about how our creative pursuits can change how we see the world and looking at the relationship between creativity and mental resilience, I asked John if he would tell us what his experience has been of taking up a new creative pursuit. Over to John…

My name is John Ivory, husband, father, owned by a cat, spent a near-lifetime in the IT industry and, until very recently, never would have used the word ‘creative’ to describe myself.  That changed during the summer of 2011 – a time during which stress and pressure caught up with me, mentally more than physically. I needed to take my mind off things and off myself. I felt the need to do something new and different. With some encouragement from my wife – a lifelong enthusiast of photography – I decided to try my hand with the only camera I possessed – my iPhone!

During the summer, as I travelled around Ireland and, closer to home, around Co. Wicklow, I took photos which I felt represented the beauty and character of the places I visited. At the end of the summer I compiled two photo-books (“Ireland by iPhone” and “iPhone Home”) using the best of the photos I had taken combined with brief words about the shots.

And that was it – hooked – so much so that I decided to acquire my first ‘proper’ camera that autumn. I was still a little scared of the ‘big’ cameras so I settled for a ‘little’ one but one which allowed me to take some control. I haven’t looked back since. I would be considered quite an observant person but until I took up a camera I didn’t realise just how much I was missing. I literally began to see the world with new eyes, looking for angles and opportunities that would be interesting to capture.

My ‘day job’ calls for quite an analytical approach and any ‘creativity’ is very much related to solving business problems. Most of my pastime pursuits, including my other great passion – music – were approached from an analytical rather than creative angle. Photography, however, affords me the opportunity to explore my ‘artistic’ creativity, something that lay dormant in me until now. I’ve also discovered that the process doesn’t begin and end in the camera. The old days of darkroom film processing have given way to computer processing of digital images and that’s something that fascinates me greatly. The creative possibilities are endless.

Photography and the creative process around it has been very good for me, helping me achieve a great balance and perspective in life. To my surprise, it has also enhanced my social life. There are regular meet-ups with local friends who share a love of photography. Additionally, I have found a great affinity between my love of photography and my social networking. I really enjoy connecting with people on Twitter and Facebook and I have found the latter to be an excellent way to connect with people who share a love of photography. Here I must also include Flickr – a kind of social networking site for sharing photos where, during 2012, I undertook a ‘Project 52’ – taking and posting one theme-based photo each week for a year. Through that project I was able to engage with and enjoy the work of many photographers from around the world. Many of them have now become personal contacts on Flickr and some even on Facebook. I’ve since moved on to more projects for 2013 but I’m making time to put the finishing touches to a photo-book of my first ‘52’ journey.

There is a long way to go and many more aspects of photography to be explored. I also feel ready now to move on to a ‘bigger’ camera. I sense it will be a lifelong learning experience but that’s a good thing. It will help me to keep looking outward at the world and the people around me in search of inspiration. I know it is going to be a very exciting and fulfilling part of my life and the great thing is the journey is only beginning!

If you would like to see examples of my photography, here are some links to my online presence:

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnivory/   – my main online portfolio

500px: http://500px.com/jwivory   – just starting to build this portfolio

JTI Photography: http://www.jti-photography.com/  – website for John & Teresa Ivory Photography

My blog: http://www.john-ivory.blogspot.com/  – I plan to combine writing and photography on here

Thanks to John for his account of how photography has opened up the world visually, creatively and socially for him. His story really shows how creative pursuits can enhance our lives dramatically, giving satisfaction, purpose and happiness.

How about you? Have you taken up something new? Have you unexpectedly come across an activity/craft that you loved? How has it helped or amused you? I know some of you tried flash fiction for the first time in last weeks challenge, can you describe how it made you feel to try something for the first time and what you got out of it?

Our creative exercise tomorrow will be based on a photo prompt related to John’s photo above that he’s kindly agreed to share on the blog. Have a look at the photo and think of ideas and I’ll set you a small challenge tomorrow. See you then!

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One comment

  1. Thanks for a great post, John, and sharing your brilliant photographs. It really shows how taking up a creative pursuit can open up your life in all sorts of ways. One of the nicest things to have come out of my writing is all the lovely people I’ve met through it and the great friends I’ve made.

    I tried writing flash fiction for the first time last week on this blog, and I found it really invigorating to try something so different to the kind of writing I normally do. It was really energising and exciting looking at things from a different perspective. I started out (a very long time ago) writing short stories, so it felt a bit like reconnecting with the kind of writer I used to be too.

    I think you can get into a bit of a rut as a writer, as with anything else, and it felt good to mix it up a bit and try new things.

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