Finding Gateways And Glorious New Gardens

photography by dan james
photography by dan james

Unless we want to wake up ten years from now and realise we’re still making the exact same artwork, we continually need to find ways to evolve as artists.

Put another way, we need to explore new gardens.

To enter these new gardens we need a gateway – a route in.

Now, it’s easy to confuse the gateway with the garden, and avoid even looking through a particular gateway because you don’t feel it’s a place you want to stay for a long time.

But the gateways are just that – a way in to new terrains, not the terrain itself.

An personal example will make this more clear.

A few months ago I bought a digital SLR camera.

I wanted a way of photographing more often, and having a capable digital camera seemed to offer more immediate photography in smaller blocks of time than film photography, which for me requires a slow, deeper kind of immersion.

Now though, I’m contemplating selling the DSLR, because, as capable as it is, I don’t like it that much. It’s not a garden I want to really play in.

But as a gateway it’s been fantastic.

By reading more about DSLRs and their alternatives I came across mirrorless cameras, like the Fuji X series, and Sony NEX range.

I also discovered new trails of inspiration online that have resulted in me joining a thriving street photography community.

I bought a NEX, and it does all the DSLR does but in a small, light, discrete package, that’s way more fun to use.

Plus I can use vintage lenses on it in ways that I couldn’t without serious limitations on the DSLR.

The NEX camera, the photography community, and the new (to me) genre of street photography are all gardens I’m very much enjoying playing in.

And they all came about because of the gateway presented by initially getting that DSLR.

I might not have discovered any of them if I hadn’t tried something new – getting a different kind of camera to try to enable me to experiment with my work in an alternative way.

What new creative gardens have you discovered in your life by opening a few gateways – taking those initial exploratory steps towards something different, something fresh, something challenging?

If you can’t think of any, then maybe it’s time you did try a different angle or approach in your work and discovered a glorious garden or two for yourself?

Would you be willing to join the conversation to share your thoughts and experiences? We’d love to hear from you.


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