Wise words from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, a movie I loved as a teenager. I’m not going to talk about why I loved the film, but rather why that particular line has resonance for me now. I used to be the person who walked round and saw nothing. I never knew my way to places*, I wouldn’t see birds of prey in the sky over the motorway, I didn’t notice if someone had a new car, or if a room had been decorated. On one occasion when I was about 15, I arrived home and my mom asked me if I’d noticed what she’d done in the garden that day. I didn’t even know if I’d come in through the back or front of the house, I was so completely on auto-pilot.
It has been said many times but I’m going to repeat it here; photography stops you from walking round with your eyes closed. You look, you see. You take walks a little more slowly. You pause for thought and consider the detail. Here’s the case in point: we have been growing a beautiful purple clematis in our garden for about 5 years. I knew that it had enormous purple flowers, and that they bloomed all summer. I didn’t know anything else about it. I’d never noticed the velvety, soft green spikes that opened into buds; I didn’t know about the intricate basket-like formation of the seeds after the petals fell. I had no idea that these seeds became fluffier until they worked their way loose to float away. I didn’t know that dozens of spiders live amongst our clematis. I do now: I’ve stopped to look around, and I’ve photographed it all.
*I still don’t know my way to places and my sense of direction has not improved – maybe that’s a topic for another day?