Willliam F. VanHook: Blog https://www.wfvanhook.com/blog en-us (C) Willliam F. VanHook bill@wfvanhook.com (Willliam F. VanHook) Wed, 13 May 2020 13:51:00 GMT Wed, 13 May 2020 13:51:00 GMT Changing The Way We See Ourselves https://www.wfvanhook.com/blog/2020/5/changing-the-way-we-see-ourselves The Pandemic is in the news every day. Everyone is affected by it. Whether you stay home all the time, or just go grocery shopping or out in your front yard, you can't help but notice the masks, the social distancing, the vague look of worry on your neighbors' faces. Everyone is asking the same question: will we ever get back to normal? Of course, there are signs that many things are just as they were. People are still going to work, building houses, raising families. Perhaps, they just do it with a little more caution now, concerned that things may radically change again.

How does all that's going on affect how we, as photographers, as recorders of the lives around us, do our jobs? There have been thousands, if not millions, of words written by and for photographers about  this subject in the last couple of months. What I'm about to say probably won't change anything, but I've been thinking about it for a while now, and I'd like to start a discussion. 

I've said before that creative people have been given a gift wrapped in a pandemic. Jobs have been put on hold and lives have been changed drastically, but we've seen some pretty remarkable things. People are using their time at home to create. Just today, someone posted online that he would build furniture to order. He said he'd always built furniture, but had never thought of it as a source of income until his job was furloughed. And he makes beautiful, solid pieces. It seems to me more and more people are turning to just plain hard work. One of the "new normals" seems to be people are purchasing produce and meat directly from farmers, since many of the commercial processing plants for big chain stores are on hold. I was in a big box store today buying supplies to replace a door (it's amazing how many little jobs can get done when you're home most of the time), and there was a line at the appliance counter of people ordering freezers. They weren't panicked. They weren't planning on buying every piece of meat in the store and hoarding it. They were acting out of common sense. If you have food stocked at home, you don't have to go out to the store every other day.

So, what does all that have to do with how we see ourselves as photographers? I believe this mindset is flooding through not just to us, but to everyone. PPA and other organizations are offering classes for NeverdieNeverdie is a weed that comes back from the tiniest part of the root left in the ground. I usually don't give these weeds a second look, but the light was right, and it was right there in my backyard.
free to help people grow in their skills. Photographers are coming up with lists of projects to do at home, and I've seen some of the most beautiful flowers and food photography. People are turning their cameras inward on their own worlds, instead of out on the world at–large. I've always believed photographing in my own backyard is one of the most interesting things to do, and this year already I've planted dozens of varieties of flowers and plan on planting more to attract a larger variety of life than ever. I have friends who are "big picture" people, photographing landscapes and African cats, who now are photographing the tiniest details found in their own homes. 

Do I think this is a good thing? No. I think this is a great thing, a better thing. When we aren't running around trying to fill our lives up with all the things we see in the outside world, we are emptying the vessel to fill it up with things we see every day, and those things matter more than we ever thought possible. There's a favorite movie quote of mine, from Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window.

Jimmy Stewart plays L.B. Jeffries, a magazine photographer who thinks he's witnessed a murder while he recovers from a broken leg and stares out his window. His nurse, Stella, has one of the best lines in the entire movie: "We've become a race of peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change. Yes sir." 

Here's to looking into our own houses.

bill@wfvanhook.com (Willliam F. VanHook) creatives houses own houses photographers Rear Window https://www.wfvanhook.com/blog/2020/5/changing-the-way-we-see-ourselves Wed, 13 May 2020 04:16:30 GMT
BUT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE BORED! https://www.wfvanhook.com/blog/2020/5/but-youre-supposed-to-be-bored BUT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE BORED!



During the coronavirus pandemic, various stages of lockdowns and stay–at–home orders have been issued in every state. No crowds allowed. Masks are recommended. Stay at least six feet apart from anyone in public. Stay home whenever possible. All this can be very difficult for a photographer. When you have to stay home, what do you photograph? Haven’t you already seen everything a thousand times? It turns out, when people are supposed to be bored staying home, photographers and other artists have actually been given a gift: the gift of being forced to be live in the moment and find new ways of looking at things.

Spring is a wild time in Indiana. Yesterday, the temperature reached the 70s and it was sunny and windy. Today, it will not get much above 50 and will be windy and rainy all day. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to be back to sunny and warm. At least, it will be sunny and warm after we get out of freezing temperatures tonight. All these changes in the weather do result in one great thing. The number of photographic opportunities in my own backyard grows exponentially.

When you first entered this website, you saw a photograph of a dandelion head. I love dandelions. Many people believe they are weeds, but they are actually members of the sunflower family, providing the first food for Spring bees. The bonus of buttery yellow flowers and spectacular seed heads gives us the opportunity to create art.

Dandelion 022004Dandelion 022004 There are as many ways to photograph a dandelion head as there are photographers. I chose to take this almost–round dandelion into my kitchen and set it up in a small clamp with a slate cutting board as a background. The window over my kitchen sink provided the light, and a small white card reflector softened the shadows on the seeds. The result was an interpretation of a dandelion that gives a different view of something so common we see it every day in the Spring.

Spices with Spoon 022002Spices with Spoon 022002 Thinking of new ways to show everyday things is the best way I know to stave off boredom! Here’s another example. Nearly everyone I know has a pantry full of spices they seldom use.  This time, I emptied out some old spice jars onto another slate cutting board, added a few nuts and a fondue spoon, and placed the whole thing on a short table in front of a sliding glass door. The colors are nice, and I think there’s kind of an “old world” feel to the way the spices look in the photograph. Again, this is just my looking for a different way to express my belief that there is art in everyday things.

How have you kept boredom at bay during the pandemic of 2020? What stories will you have to tell your children and grandchildren about how you continued to create art, even when you couldn’t go beyond the boundaries of your own home?



bill@wfvanhook.com (Willliam F. VanHook) boredom dandelions everyday things Pandemic photograph spices https://www.wfvanhook.com/blog/2020/5/but-youre-supposed-to-be-bored Fri, 08 May 2020 15:32:54 GMT