Thursday, January 2, 2014

Guest Post: Susan Fox - Intuitive Photographer

    We begin the new year with a guest post from Susan Fox. Although she categorizes her work as "intuitive", it is certainly very contemplative as well. I like bringing new faces to this blog and Susan (and her lovely work) is a great way to start off 2014.

How did you come to photography? 

   Photography surfaced as my artistic expression during Higher National Diploma Fine Art education about 14 years ago.  Having explored other more traditional art-forms, such as painting and printmaking, I realized something was missing, never really feeling that deeper connection like I did with photography and the excitement of the printed form.

 Initially I was spurred forward by my tutor who was impressed by my use of natural light in an image taken with a throw away camera.  He said it was the best student picture of that year's Florence trip. I took photography as my specialism despite finding the technical side daunting.  I always had to ask twice for instructions.  To this day I do not relish the technical side!  

   At that time I became fascinated with the idea of using the camera as a tool for therapy. I had recently lost all of my hair due to alopecia, so cottoning onto this idea I arranged for a personal photo-therapy session where I dressed in African headdress, which for me was symbolic of beauty, strength and femininity. To this day I look for symbolism in my imagery, very often going back to work on an image to draw out and express my feelings as a form of therapy.

   One that comes to mind is this abstract image which looked like a red dress to me.  Needing to vent my emotions, feeling powerless over a personal situation in my life, I decided to work into the image making it stronger, sharper, more defined, thereby releasing some negativity.  This processing of feelings through imagery can be very empowering.
Share some of your process with my readers...

   Initially Minor White's photography made a big impact on me, his use of light and how he would arrange for group field trips to capture the light and magic of the landscape fascinated me, I found his images mind blowing.  The best way of describing my connection to outdoor photography is that of a walking meditation, my mind is switched off or lets say uncluttered.  This is not a forced state of mind it just happens when the camera is in my hand. I feel my senses are sharp I am attuned to my intuition or deeper knowing, listening inwardly. 
   I do not ascribe to any course of camera setting adjustments, it is always on auto leaving my mind free.  I just remain in a state of Being, my old camera becomes an appendage in that it feels like it's a part of me held snugly in one hand between my four fingers and thumb. Apart from walking, veering from side to side or bobbing up and down the only action I perform is either zooming in or out, I can manipulate the zoom with the same hand whilst my eye hovers between the landscape and the viewfinder.

    The light is always guiding me.  It feels like there is an inner computing and configuring going on.  I will take scores of shots in the process, it is not static or considered but an active and fluid experience. The feeling continues when I get home with my haul, I can't wait to up-load them to my computer, it's akin to opening an anticipated box of chocolates, the excitement and delight at pondering each image adds even more to the experience. To further use the analogy of chocolates, not all will equally hit the sensory spot but one or two will usually stand out as significant and having deeper meaning.

What are some of the benefits of seeing the world through you camera's lens? How has it impacted your sensibilities and perceptions?

    The love of lens has impacted my life in a most wonderful way, particularly when I started my blog Finding my Bliss. For a period of about 2 years I was in a constant state of 'bliss', I called it my 'wonderbubble', and most especially during an unusual winter of snow, I was in wonderland; landscape, reflections, macro photography...this also coincided with a very difficult personal patch in my life that I had to deal with. So, through the camera I was able to live in moments of pure awareness. It nourished me through these sad and stressful times. As I posted on my blog I wanted to pass on this incredible feeling, to inspire others in similar situations.

If I never left my house again there would be an infinite source of subject matter for photography around, either through the ever changing external window scene or inside my home.  Again, I never plan, it just happens.  My camera is always on hand, my family are used to me instantly dropping whatever I am doing to catch a sparkle or shadow!
    It is always associated with the light change.  I think over the years of image taking I have become deeply sensitized to both subtle and strong light changes.  It could be a soft light outside that gives gentle shades evoking a feeling of harmony and connection to the Divine or a strong shadow inducing light that catches my attention, imbuing a sense of mystery.
  I do admit to playing in this light a little, it is one of my favorite pastimes seeing what I can come up with.  I have favorite glass items I photograph over and over as the light hits them differently and then perhaps even progressing to a little Photoshop work.  Sometimes I hear my old tutor telling me to "push the boundaries, go deeper" so I do, it satisfies my creativity. 

But all in all I view my connection to the camera as my spiritual outlet, fulfilling a deep need within.  This outlet and expression is a form of worship if you like, focusing in on the minutest of life's details, manifesting the beauty and design of Source, it is my way of blessing counting.  I am grateful for the abundance!

I call my blog 'Finding my Bliss' because for me intuitive photography is the most fulfilling and blissful pursuit.

Here is a biographical sketch of Susan:

 My love David and I plus our two beautiful fluff-ball dogs Dougal & Jasper live together in a 17th century cottage on the edge of a famous historical estate ~ Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, UK.  We restored the cottage from the remaining three walls of a ruin fourteen years ago, it is believed to be the original cobbler's cottage that served the Hall, which was built by Bess of Hardwick, cousin to Queen Elizabeth I of England. 

    The Hall is famous for its windows among other things, as when it was constructed windows were a luxury and the Hall had many, hence the saying "Hardwick Hall more glass than wall".  I love to photograph the Hall and windows, at a certain time of day when the sun is shining they appear to be on fire! 

    When I am not taking photographs or walking with our boys in the parkland surrounding us I spend time with my other passion, yoga which has become a very important part of my life, you could say 'yoga saves', for I have found through practicing yoga and meditation along with intuitive photography I have been able to ride some serious storms in my life!  I have three grown up children and three grandchildren, all precious to me for which I am grateful!


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful interview with Sue. What a treasure she is and I have enjoyed getting more familiar with her process here!

Patricia Turner said...

I agree. I love her work and her whole process. I was very happy to share her with my blog readers...the more the merrier!

sperlygirl said...

Agree - she is a treasure and her work carries such a beautiful perspective!

Patricia Turner said...

It is wonderful that she has been able to translate her soul into a visual image...