Maëlick in the North

Toy Photography in Northern Finland, Sweden and Norway

Photography Diary – Summer 2020

I thought I would start doing a monthly recap here on the blog. Feeling burned out with social media, I decided to re-focus my online publishing effort from Instagram to my personal website/blog (read here).

I thought one way of doing it could be to do a monthly write-up reviewing the past month from a photographic point of view. Some kind of photography diary.

There’s one problem though…

My process has become rather slow over time. This means I usually don’t share photos after taking them. This year, without any real yearly project to guide me such as SiPgoes52 and SiPgoes53 with weekly deadlines, I pushed that slow process even further.

I don’t want to share publicly right away my photos. Instead, I want to take time to get used to them. Put some distance between them and me. Let my photos mature. Share them when I feel they are ready.

However, this seems incompatible with doing a monthly post about what I’ve been doing. Maybe I won’t share all the details. Maybe there won’t be any pictures in it. Or maybe I will procrastinate and give up soon.

But I want to try. I think I should have done that ages ago. Even if it’s garbage or uninteresting, it could be pretty cool to read those posts again in a few years and see the road traveled.

Before reviewing the summer, let’s start with some context of 2020.

Early 2020

No doubt this year has been unusual. But I’m actually not sure whether the COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on my photography.

The situation in Finland hasn’t been anywhere close to what it has been in Europe, or what it is currently in most of the world. During the whole summer, I’ve felt extremely fortunate. Northern Finland simply feels like one of the best places in the world to be.

But photography-wise, 2020 has been special, pandemic or not. It was the first time after two years I didn’t have any project to guide me throughout the year. No project and no deadlines. I partly felt relieved… But overall, since taking my last photo for SiPgoes53 in December 2019, it’s been an almost constant creative rut.

There’s been up and down though. January has been bad. February has been worse. Then it became better during late winter.

Summer 2020

Taking pictures

With the borders restrictions in Finland being gradually lifted in May, and borders gradually re-opening in June, I went on a completely improvised road trip for Midsummer. I went hiking in Kilpisjärvi, then decided to cross the border to Norway. That was rejuvenating.

Still, July has been quite devoid of toy photography as the creative rut came back in full strength. I worked on a project for LEGO. But besides that, I didn’t take that many other toy pictures. Quite the opposite of summer 2019. It got better in August though.

That said, it would be exaggerated to say I haven’t got anything done photography related. While it hasn’t been the best time of the year for taking photos, I’ve been actively reflecting on my photography.

Introspection

I thought a lot about social media and Instagram and I worked on my website and started making galleries. I tried to finish my final series of photos from SiPgos52. (Hopefully, more on that soon…)

I spent lots of time looking at the photos I took during both winter and summer. The result was pleasantly surprising. Even though I felt so unproductive and lacking creativity this year, there has been a lot of promising photos. In particular, there are some photo series/projects I started in 2018 that never took off, and should eventually take shape. Maybe I’ll be able to talk about them in the next months. (If not it will be for next year.)

Looking at my photos led me to spend lots of time thinking about what I’m trying to do and say with my photography. It raised many questions about myself, my photography, and my vision. I tried to find answers to those questions that popped.

These questions relate to concepts such as roaming and wandering, wabi-sabi, zen philosophy, contemplation, and how they relate or apply to photography.

And then last week, all these started to fall into place. I got some kind of epiphany. It’s too early to talk about it. Yet, it’s likely that there will be soon a blog post, here or at Stuck in Plastic, about one/some of these concepts/ideas.

New camera

No later than in June, I was claiming I must be one of the rare photographers who don’t suffer from GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I don’t want a “better” camera or a better lens.

I usually try to avoid talking about gear as I think it’s the most overrated topic in photography. While important, gear is overrated. It’s the photographer who is making the photos, not the camera.

Yet I bought a new camera in July. How did that happen? It’s a long story that could deserve its own blog posts. But to keep it short, my Midsummer road trip made me realize that the biggest obstacle to multiday hikes is most likely the size and weight of my camera and favorite lens.

I won’t even mention what I bought, it really doesn’t matter. So far, I haven’t shared any image made with it yet. I might post a few photos soon-ish, but I doubt anyone could tell the difference. The only notable difference is for my back, as the size and weight have been reduced by half…

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