Review 2005

Sasha F

2005 was the year that I really discovered photography (among other things - I don't want you to think I'm one dimensional).

I often think of myself as a visual person: I dress in that textured creative way that implies I know the canon of visual imagery. I was Trinny-and-Susanna-ing my friends (without the nastiness, obviously) well before anyone knew from personal shoppers or TV shows. And I go to art galleries, and often notice small interesting details in the universe - visually - and imagine myself framing photos and referring to them later as I build up my records of how the world looks to me.

I am susceptible to my environment. I notice when people's furniture is the wrong size for the room, or their pictures are hung in a way that doesn't work for the space. A very long time ago (when I wasn't quite so good at knowing when to keep my mouth shut) I enabled the speedy and rather tragic ending of lovely relationship with a creative opera-lover-type who lived in Highgate because I rather forcefully insisted that he rehang the pictures in his living room. He subsequently turned out to be gay, and I learned the value of keeping shtum.

Last November, I did the usual phone-upgrade thing with Orange, and I got a Nokia 6710. I didn't want a camera, it just came with it, and for six months, I was annoyed that it was a phone that primarily perceived itself as a camera, and you had to press more buttons to make a call than take a pic.

Two summers ago, I angsted for ages about which digital camera to buy - balancing technical requirements with value for money - because the moment you make the purchase decision on any piece of technology and press the "confirm order" button, that very minute something bigger/better/smaller/cheaper comes on the market and you are already working with tired materials.

The camera gods, however, were having none of it: my new digital camera was nicked by a taxi driver in New York less than a month after I bought it, and before I'd even had a chance to download the photos.

Sometimes, you think someone up there has a message for you.

But in the meantime, I'd got into my phonecam. Camphone. Who knows what you call all the new stuff that keeps arriving.

What I like is the spontaneity. The throwaway-ness. I'm not taking a day of work and saying "today is the day I take pictures." My camera's always in my handbag, because my phone is, and the impermanence of the snaps that I take is what does it for me. The artlessness, and the limitations of the form - closeups are better than vistas, real closeups just get fuzzy - mean that I have to work within restrictions that, bizarrely - seem to engender my creativity, rather than hamper it.

After I'd worked out the geek-stuff of getting my photos off my phone and onto my PC, I got excited. I felt like I'd found a new way to express myself. There's something both calming and life-affirming about recording the world as you see it.

This all came to a head in November, traditionally phone-upgrade month. Usually, I'm hungry for the latest whatever, craving newness above all else, but now I feel my Nokia 6710 is my trusty friend: I couldn't give it up for anything. Also, it looks slightly art deco in a fakely retro way, which makes me feel very Algonquin, which is never a bad thing.

And I never bought another real digital camera - I've thought about it, and delicioused all the research, but there's no hurry. Sure, I'd like to explore new ways of doing clever things with photos, but there's still so much for to discover with what I've got, that there's no real hurry.

No real hurry. That's a new concept for me.

So for a few months, I've had a flickr. Now I've got more than five hundred photos, and sure, lots of them are holiday snaps, but some are really good photos that I really like. And also, sometimes I think my blog looks a bit dull, all text, so I can break it up with pictures.

After all, a picture's worth a thousand words.

Check out my flickr at:

Sasha F writes Sashinka

For an introduction and list of contributors to Review 2005, follow this link.

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