There’s a saying, where you place your focus … your thoughts … so goes your energy. But where do my thoughts come from? Do I choose them, or do they choose me? Regardless, how I approach my thoughts is a choice, like picking where to point my camera. I can choose what to focus on, whether to move in closer or take a broader view. I can take a movie, or a still, or a timelapse, or use a filter. So many choices, like toddlers raising their hands Pick me! Pick me! Oh, please pick me!
When on a road trip I wait for something to catch my eye — texture, sunlight, water feature. I scan the horizon searching for something new, a fresh perspective. Last year at Organ Pipe National Park, a UNESCO site five miles from the Mexican border, I learned about a different way to focus. Pick an object (e.g. a sunset), but look for an interesting contrast to have in the foreground. I used a Saguaro cactus at the campsite where we stayed. I shot a bunch of different angles to review later on my theatre-sized monitor when we got home. When I want to review my thoughts I either write them down so I don’t forget (capture like a photo memory) or explore them in meditation where I often try not to follow them, but rather become an observer — similiar to being a photographer. What I do with captured images and thoughts afterwards is my choice, although I know how distracted I can get by trying different filters, now I’m back with the toddlers.
Every Thanksgiving we alternate hosting with friends we’ve had in Oregon for decades, especially after each of us had children. One year I decided to try something different. I placed one of my over-the-years-newest-movie cameras on a tripod in the corner of the dining room with a broad enough view to catch the prep activity in the kitchen; from the morning when I started making stuffing and my husband cleaned the turkey, through after dinner games of Pictionary and Pit. I set the camera on a low capture-rate because I wanted the final video to not be too long. I wonder where that video is now? Probably upstairs in a brown, Safeway grocery bag with another 100 movies taken over 30 decades waiting to be catalogued digitally. When I try to remember a specific event — there’s a visual catalogue inside my head where certain memories, certain images pop-up and I follow them like a pile of photos in an album I enjoy paging through. With movies it’s like thoughts, they are stored as stills, thumbnails ready to review, and if hovered over they start to play. I’ve also wondered how I could record my thoughts and images in my head. I write them down, but sometimes I want to capture a visual representation. When I take movies, they record images that later I recall as a thought memory. Timelapse photography allows me to linger in a moment longer. One of the kids as a teenager, stood still in front of the movie camera during my timelapse sequence. He statue-maker stood there, frozen for about 5 mins, as if to stake a claim at being the official observer of the event now and in the future. I wonder what thoughts were runing through his head, what toddler with the idea to stand still in a timelapse video raised her hand saying Pick me! Pick me! Oh, please pick me!
Years ago Apple provided a comic book filter in iPhoto. I had so much fun playing and experimenting with pictures of my three daughters — blowing bubbles, posing as a model on the beach, reading in dappled sunlight. I’d been trying to figure out how to make a coloring book for each of their birthdays using comic book filtered pictures. I became sidetracked with all the colors. They fascinated me. I’d get lost in the image waiting for the girls to start moving. They were still, caught in a moment of time. But somehow in these comic book images, they appeared poised to surprise me and move at any second, like thoughts standing still, but then quickly begin to move and morph. One image may capture my attention and I’m mesmerized. I look at it from different angles, suprised at its freshness — not wanting the feeling to pass — so I keep staring and searching for little hidden items like a game of Where’s Waldo. Do thoughts always come with sound tracks? Sometimes a thought comes across as an image — maybe I have the Director’s Cut option turned off. They can be quiet and fleeting, or not. If the thought disappears and I try to recall it — it’s not the same — like changing filters on images, but there you can revert to the original. Writing thoughts down, snapping photos or taking movies become the originals. I can choose to change my memory by reframing the words in my journal, similiar to photos I manipulate: delete some words — crop an image, edit the conflict in my journal — manipulate a photo’s intensity. My intuition influences my photography. My subconscious influences my writing. My intuition and subconscious are part of me. Maybe that’s where my thoughts come from. If not, I can always choose another toddler.