We chat to talented artist Aspa from Pen in the Wild about the philosophy of photography and saying yes.
“I want more and more to perceive the necessary characters in things as the beautiful—I shall thus be one of those who beautify things. Amor fati: let that henceforth be my love! I do not want to wage war with the ugly. I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers. Looking aside, let that be my sole negation! And all in all, to sum up: I wish to be at any time hereafter only a yea-sayer!” Nietzsche
A dear friend of mind recently introduced me to the idea of making a picture rather than taking one. Of course to him, being a film photographer, this concept made much more sense, but it got me thinking.
And it was through this that I realised that there is nothing that inspires me to actually take pictures. It’s all about the process through which those pictures are made.
So many people expend tremendous amounts of energy in creating obstacles between themselves and where they want to be.
We like to blame our upbringing or financial situation, romanticise our sadness, get comfortable in places we don’t like being, and eventually grow numb, stop pursuing what is best for us and focus on what is instantly attainable.
And to me, “yes saying” is more or less about saying no to all of that. As a person who has lived with social anxiety growing up, I was well aware that I was missing out on a great many things. But I was lucky enough to be – perhaps – slightly too proud to accept some aspects of this situation.
Long story short, I learned to say yes by putting myself in positions where saying no would seriously damage my pride.
There is no inspiration that I am necessarily trying to channel through a photograph. If something ends up inspiring somebody- which is the ultimate reason why I share things- that is a wonderful consequence.
The same way that the photographs themselves are consequences of a pre-existing inspiration.
I think one way or another, everybody has got it in them if you take the right approach. Children are not naturally inhibited towards experience. You don’t really hear them say no. But as grown-ups, we somehow end up replacing this yearning for experience for safety and certainty, material things and specific schedules.
There is nothing exceptional or particularly interesting about my work process. I use a Nikon D5100 for the most part with an 18-55 standard kit lens, a 50-200mm and a 55mm prime lens. I edit in Lightroom.
I try not to put specific labels on the stuff I shoot. You’ve heard it all a hundred times. What I do think is essential is the time, the courage and the dedication it takes to get to the right moment before pressing the shutter.
In the end, it’s not really about the photographs as much as what precedes them.
Waking up, getting out of bed, rejecting the idea of staying home, of not seizing the day and instead, embracing the opportunity, exposing yourself to new environments, going all the way to the moment before taking the picture, and having said yes, press the shutter.
So in this sense each photograph is a victory and an embodiment of this philosophy. Photography can take you to so many wonderful places, it can help you accept positive change, it can make you more appreciative or as Nietzsche puts it- a beautifier.
If you are reading this today, take it as a sign to do something you’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to doing.
All you need to do is say yes.
Aspa is an adventurous spirit, artist, traveller and yes-sayer hailing from Greece. This 18yo plans to study Film and Philosophy next year at Oxford University but says she’s unsure how that’s all going to work out with Brexit. In any case, her dream is to keep on travelling and working as a freelance photographer/videographer/writer.
Take the road less travelled here.