I am about to finish watching The Hour, which if you haven’t watched it is simply staggeringly brilliant — Romola Garai is absolutely astonishing, and Dominic West and Ben Whishaw aren’t too shabby either, and I loved playing spot-the-British-TV-regular (“HI MORIARTY.” “HI OWEN HARPER.”). But what really grabbed me about it was the cinematography, the way they used the light and the camera angles and even the faces of their actors to elicit moods and moments in those particular lights and angles. The film work on the show was almost more astonishing to me than the show itself, and the show itself regularly made me gasp out loud.
The camera work made me gasp out loud more, made me literally reach my hands out for the screen as if I could grab hold of the light and steal it for myself, and made me despair of ever seeing the world that beautifully and compactly and uniquely. (I voiced as much to the Cowboy a few weeks ago, and he told me to stop fishing for compliments, but I swear I wasn’t; I am a good photographer but the cinematography on The Hour is otherworldly.)
I read a lot of style and design blogs and tumblrs; not because I will ever have a personal style (lately my personal style is “of course my Doc Martens go with everything”) or get my act together to, say, hang curtains and buy a matching couch if I ever own a house, but because they give me the tools to pull a photo shoot together. More and more lately, I can see in my mind’s eye the final images that I want, what I want to achieve, but I can’t always verbalize or even mentally compute how to get from nothing to there.
I am spending a lot of time right now looking for the right light. Metaphorically, literally. There’s always something I can learn, and I don’t usually realize that I’m teaching myself new things until I’m in the middle of it; I started reading design blogs not to pull a photo shoot together better, but because I got really obsessed with vintage Pyrex. It just turns out that it was more useful for other things. (I am still really obsessed with vintage Pyrex.) Watching TV isn’t a waste of time for me, because sometimes there’s a show like The Hour makes me push myself even harder. Camera angles, the lines of someone’s jaw, a particular brand of light.
There’s always something to astonish me; there’s always something to learn.