Across the Universe

One positive thing the pandemic has instigated, is reaching out to one another using various digital platforms. It has opened up our eyes for new ways of collaborating. Or rather, made us adapt to and learn to use technology already existing, but maybe haven’t familiarized ourselves with enough to utilize to the full potential in the past.

One such example is Frank Girolami’s blog Beach Walk Reflections: Thoughts from thinking while walking. Frank invites photographer to collaborate by sharing their images for his beach walks. In his latest post 29 – Sea, Frank invited me to such a collaborative effort. His words and my photos. The topic: the sea—naturally.

In the post, Frank reflects on the relationship between man and the sea. He walks the beach and contemplates about the endlessness of the sea, and how it connects with us human beings through time and history. Water is vital for any life on earth, and that transcends in Frank’s words into poetry and philosophic consideration. Mirrored and expanded by my photos.

Beach Walk Reflections is only a couple of months old. Frank wrote the introductory post in last October. The aim is to share his thoughts hoping to stimulate the readers’ thoughts. Frank and have been walking beaches together with his wife for many years, and that is the origin for the blog.

The blog may be new, but Frank has been blogging before. For many years he brought out A Frank Angle. After a break he is now back with Beach Walk Reflections

Take a look at our collaborative effort: 29 – Sea.

Photo Workshops and Tours in 2021

In the hope that the world will return to some normalcy and open up again, hopefully towards this summer, I and Blue Hour Photo Workshops are announcing new photos workshops for the later part of the year.

These are the workshops we plan to offer later this year:
“The Personal Expression”—a weekend in Bergen, Norway with focus on how to develop your personal, photographic expression. June 11th to 13th 2021.

”Telling Stories with the Camera”—five days in the beautiful village of Bleik in Northern Norway. A dream spot for any photographer. The focus will be on storytelling and the visual language. September 15th to 19th 2021.

”Photo Tour in Granada”—a week in Nicaragua for the adventures. We will explore the colonial city and its extraordinary countryside. November 6th to 12th 2021.

Are you interested in developing your photographic skills? Do you like to travel? Do you want to make your photos tell a story in a much stronger vocabulary? Find your own expression? Develop your vision and become more creative? Any of these workshops would take your photography to the next level. I promise you, you will be in for an amazing experience. Click any of the links for more info.

Last Month’s Instagram

Each day up to Christmas Eve last year, I posted a new landscape photos on my Instagram account. They were photos from previous travels around the world, which I had processed anew and differently. The idea was to make a visually coherent expression and evoke a little bit a feeling of how it was to travel—when we actually could.

It was a fun little project, of which this images here was one of the 37 seven photos I ended up posting on Instagram. In hindsight, it was a fun experience, to do and to see how it was received. I certainly got much positive response, even from people I incidentally met on the street. And an increase in numbers of followers Maybe the sheer amount in the end overwhelmed my audience as the comments and response decreased towards the end. But that’s OK. I would definitely do a publishing project like that again.

Maybe something for you to think about if you have an Instagram account?

This post marks a little change in my blog when it comes to showing images that I have first posted on Instagram. Previously, I had a weekly posting on my blog with Last Week’s Instagram, one image picked from the week’s collection. As from now, I will only pick once a month, so that the column becomes Last Month’s Instagram. If you want to see all images I post on Instagram, you may follow me on: www.instagram.com/ottovonmunchow/

New Year New Possibilities

We have turned a page. A new and fresh year has been born. And with that change follows hope and new energy. The year we have left behind, will be one to forget in silence, one with too many disappointments and setbacks, a year that knocked the world over and brought it to a standstill—at best. For many people it turned out to be a disastrous year.

We are still not in safe heaven, far from. The virus that came upon us last year, is still making havoc, in fact in many countries, is creating more mayhem than it has so far. Nevertheless, we are facing the prospect of better times again. Hope is back. As new vaccines are put in production and more people are being vaccinated, although it will take time, we are on the track to some normalcy again. Slowly by slowly we will get there.

Personally, I am going to embrace the new year with aspiration and anticipation, both creatively and socially. I believe in changes and that any demise, even a worldwide pandemic, can be used for positive changes. As the saying goes, what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. New possibilities will arise in 2021. I will be ready to grab them, and even instigate new opportunities as much as I can. The waiting is over.

I hope you reader is ready, too. To get going again, if only slowly, as the world gets back on its feet. One thing I hope to accomplish is to be of some sort of creative inspiration with this blog. The blog has always been about creativity, but this year I want to focus even more on the creative part of photography—after all my own craft.

As some of you have noticed, I slipped away from the blog sphere part of last autumn. I needed a break and also to find a new direction. Towards the end of the year, I was slowly getting back in to blogging again. However, I admit I didn’t reciprocate your visits. That is one of my goals for the new year, to visit your blogs again. It does take a lot of time to comment on other blogs, so I need to restrain myself a little, but I want to be more active again.

I wish you all the best for 2021. What plans do you have for the new year?

Happy Holidays

In my part of the world and in my culture we are about to enter the celebration of Christmas, as many others around the world are about to do. It’s a time of the year when we often try to summarize how the year has been. And usually look forward to a week of holidays together with family and friends.

This year has been rather special and will be during the Christmas holidays, too. The reason we all know too well: corona or covid-19. The pandemic has set restrictions for how we can live and act, and will do so these last days of the year as well.

The consequences have come in many forms and shapes. Photographically, for instance, this year I have captured about 58 percent of the amount of photos I would do in a normal year. Not that quantity in itself is important, but the number still indicates something about the limitations.

I have hardly travelled this year. Which is also rather unusual. Normally I would have something like close to 200 travel days during a year. This year, I was only away in January and in the beginning of February. A fate many have shared. If nothing else, the environment and the climate have benefitted from less travelling.

As we move towards the end of the year, things slowly start to look brighter, even when numbers of infected increase many places in the world. The quick developing of a vaccine, or actually a handful of vaccines, brings hope for next year.

This will be my last post of the year. I wish you all a pleasant and safe couple of days, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. May you all enter the new year with hope and may it be the turnaround point we all desire. Thank you for having followed my blog. It’s been encouraging, not the least during the period not long ago when I lost the energy for blogging. I very much appreciate all the support and wonderful feedback.

See you all in 2021. Stay safe. Be Happy. Spend time with those you care for. Photograph a lot. Wish you all the best.

Therapy of Now

The raw material for photography is right now. You can’t take a photo tomorrow. Of course, you can wait until tomorrow, for that particular now when you press the shutter button. But you can’t capture the photo, neither before nor after, if you didn’t do it then. In the same way, you can’t capture a photo yesterday, if you didn’t do it then, in that now.

Photography forces you to be in the present. It’s all about finding the right now to press the shutter button. You can’t vast the moments if you want to photograph. Whatever you didn’t capture now, is forever lost. Photography forces you to pay attention and notice whatever is happening right in front of your eyes. Right now.

The camera is an instrument for presence. By default, photography facilitates mindfulness. No doubt, all creative activity, which allows us to enter flow, will have that affect, but in particular, photography is a forceful catalyst for mindfulness, exactly because it forces us to be so aware of the now.

You can’t worry about what has happened before or about the future, when you are fully aware of the present moment.

The photographic process pulls us into the moment, makes us seize this precious time we never get back. The ability to concentrate and be present is a prerequisite for taking good pictures. What more is, practicing being in the presence when photographing, makes it easier to be present even without a camera.

Whether you capture a photo at a fraction of a second or with a minutes’ long exposure, your mind will be focusing on what is happening right now. In our modern society we all too much think about and plan the future, get stressed by all the things we need to do, have regrets and are bothered by whatever we didn’t get a chance to do or did do but erroneously; there is so much to think about, that we forget to live. In this very now. No matter what, life happens here and now. Not tomorrow and not yesterday. Future plans have no value before they actually happen, or even worse, if they don’t ever come to be realized.

Thus, photography is a mental health catalyst. It gives us a feeling of mastery. Because the way to master the present moment, is also the way to master everything else. It all starts with the first, uncertain step, the first, terrible photo. Right now. Photography is therapy for the mind. It keeps the mind healthy.

Embrace Failure

Here the other night, I was visiting an artist friend of mine. He wanted to discuss early artwork he has created years ago and have rejected, to see if some of the paintings were worth keeping or make changes to in order for them to become complete.

My friend is a successful artist. His paintings have been bought by national galleries and museums, but are quite different from these early works.

We had a constructive and good discussion, talking about reframing, or cropping as we would say in the world of photography, or adding elements or do other changes to the paintings. A lot of the early work came out as really good, and those paintings that weren’t, could be worked into something that would make them great, too. However, quite a few there were no hope for.

All these paintings represent a time when my friend was experimenting a lot with materials, techniques, approaches and artistic expressions. Although they are very different from his later and much recognized work, it was clear, seen in retrospect, that they were necessary steps towards his maturity as an artist and the level that made him renowned and successful.

What stroke me, while it’s something I have often enough emphasized, is the necessity to be willing to experiment and take changes if you want to develop your artistic expression, be it as a painter, a photographer, or anything else creatively. If not, you won’t develop, you will languish as an artist.

However, by taking chance, you risk making something that might become a failure. That lies in whole idea of taking a risk or a chance. If not, there wouldn’t be any risk involved, you wouldn’t be taking any chances.

I think this is so fundamental to acknowledge for yourself if you want to develop as an artist. It means embracing the idea of failure, not as failure in fact, but as necessary steps towards higher artistry. Failures are only failures if you seen them as such. If you take them as possibilities to learn and expand, suddenly they are only part of the process to become ever better.

If you don’t fail, it means you are not developing. If you do fail, it indicates that you are trying to become better or more profound in your skills and artistry. A positive, rather than negative, adaptation.

It’s easy to feel miserable when you fail, whether you don’t achieve what you had set out to accomplish, artistically, or don’t get the recognition you think you deserve. I know, I have been there plenty enough.

The important point is to try to turn it around, so that what you see as failures do not stop you, but rather encourage you to keep on trying. Failures are not failures. But necessary steps in the learning process. No renown artist has gotten his or her recognition overnight, without any prior trying and failing, without labouring and taking chance. The only thing different between them and us is you don’t see all those mistakes and disappointments that they had to prevail.

So embrace failures. They are much more important for your artistic development than your successes. That has been confirmed as well in cognitive behavioural research.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

New Energy

I have not been present on my blog for about a month and a half. The last post was the one on September 25th. Maybe you have noticed...

If I have been absent, the world still keeps moving forward in its crooked orbit, no matter what. The numbers of newly infected has skyrocketed all over the world during this time (with the slightly encouraging exception of the African continent—particularly south of Sahara). At the same time, a new president has been elected in the States, bringing some hope to these dark and gloomy times.

All while the world has spun further out of its trajectory, I have done some inventory on my own. The times, limiting most normal activities, almost encourage engaging in some reflective pursuit. Not much else to do these days, anyway. In addition, about to finish a three-month long mentor program I have been teaching, I suddenly find myself with even more time for self-development.

This blog is close to have existed for ten years. I wrote my first blog June 9th 2011. That turned into 790 posts over the next years—not counting this one. Maybe it’s time to do something else? If not, it’s definitely time for changing the framework of the blog. The question is; where do I want to go? Still don’t know, but ideas are emerging.

While still struggling with the future path, let me tell you about my latest photo project. As for people in general, my travelling has been severely limited after the outbreak of covid-19. In fact, I haven’t travelled at all. And I usually spend some hundred days travelling each year. Thus, I have decided to go through my archive of photos, looking for landscape photos from all over the world I could change into something different. I ended up with 37 images in which I have skewed the colours and changed the framing.

The photos are posted on my Instagram account, one each day up until Christmas. I have called the project Cross Colour Landscape, the first image posted here. If you want to follow the series, you’ll find my Instagram site here: www.instagram.com/ottovonmunchow.

Let me finally take the liberty to draw your attention to the new eBook I launched this autumn. It goes into depth about seeing with the intention of photographing and how to develop the ability. “Photographically Seeing—Seeing Better, Seeing Deeper” is 106 pages packed with useful information and practical exercise to make to see what is rather than what you believe is there. You’ll find more info and can order the book here: www.munchow.no/ebook2.

Photographically Seeing

Are you ready to learn and understand how you eyes work—and how to make your visual perception sharper and better fit for the task of finding potential photographs? My new eBook “Photographically Seeing—Seeing Better, Seeing Deeper” will take your seeing—and thus your photography—to the next level.

For a photographer, seeing is where it all really starts. If you don’t see anything that interests you, you won’t be able to take any interesting photos. Obviously. However, there is a big difference between seeing in general and seeing with the intention of taking photographs.

“Photographically Seeing—Seeing Better, Seeing Deeper” will take you on a journey into how our eyes and brain work and teach you how you can develop and train your perceptive skills.

By training your perceptiveness, you not only improve your ability to discover and see potential subjects better and thus are able to create stronger and better photographs, but the opposite is also true. In the process of photographing, you train yourself to see more deliberately and clearer. The camera can consequently help liberate your awareness to see clearly and keenly, to know something about who you really are, and open your being to an unfading swell of empathy and compassion for those you meet along the way.

Maybe it’s time to discover how to see again? By taking the time to truly focus on what it is you see you’ll be able to create more engaging photos. Rediscover what it is you really see, and you will probably find that your photos will change dramatically. Good seeing doesn’t ensure good photography by itself, though, but a captivating photographic expression is impossible without it.

“Photographically Seeing—Seeing Better, Seeing Deeper” is 106 pages packed with useful information and practical exercises to make to see what is rather than what you believe is there.

Order the book “Photographically Seeing—Seeing Better, Seeing Deeper”

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.