I know that many of you who read this post will yawn and say, “Oh Blah” or “Oh Blah Blah Blah”. However, I am going to take the risk anyway.
I used to do yoga when I was living in Calcutta (they call it Kolkatta these days), and Singapore. Strangely, after I returned to India (the land of yoga) I could not find a good yoga teacher. Strange are the ways of my country.
Anyway, when I was doing yoga in Singapore, one of the yoga instructors told us two things. One was a story (set in Japan)about humility, and the other can be considered to have a bearing on developing your personal vision.
I have a strong body, but I am not flexible. When I used to yoga, I would sometimes watch these young Chinese girls who would effortlessly tie themselves into knots, and untie themselves again. Those, like me, who learned about sailors knots whilst in the Boy Scouts will be able to visualise these girls.
I used to call them “The Ladies Of The Rubber Band Gang”.
Probably the yoga instructor saw me gazing at these girls once too often, because he announced to the class that “Yoga is an exploration of your own body. It is not an exploration of your neighbour’s body”
When I was thinking about the magic frame; my old teacher Pillai who asked us to write “I See”; and, photographers who have asked me to look at the work of other photographers and learn, then I started to think about The Rubber Band Gang and the yoga instructor.
Like in many things, we can and should learn from others and be inspired by them. We can, and should, stand on the shoulders of Giants as Sir Isaac Newton once famously said.
Yet, there is a thin line that we should not cross. In looking at the works of other photographers (read artists, writers, innovators, corporate citizens? etc), we must follow our own vision. I tell my kids that the one thing that has changed between their teenage years, and mine, is that the world’s population has increased, and this means that there are more people attempting the same thing.
This also means that it becomes more and more difficult to stand out. So, while we must learn from others, we need to strike our own lonely path towards our own vision. It becomes more and more difficult to stand out, so for those who want to do so, they must have the passion, the willingness to experiment, to continuously develop themselves and break their own barriers.
This is not just something that we need to do. It is an imperative. Some of us will succeed. Many of us will not. But, for all those who don’t succeed in standing out consistently, their efforts do contribute to the overall improvement in standards as long as they are true to themselves.
Within the magic frame lies our essential freedom.
We decide what to put inside, how to arrange the elements, when to go in search of the components of the composition, and how to use the light.
As long as we cherish this freedom and nurture it, the magic frame will continue to give us, and others, years of joy.