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Beth Jennings Photography [priorities]

City Lights, Hong Kong, June 2008

City Lights, Hong Kong, June 2008


Recently I read an an excerpt of an interview with musician Ben Lee.  It had parallels to the theme of the story of Eat Pray Love, and both stories resonated with me as I had a similar kind of experience myself and thought it might be nice to share some thoughts on it. 

So the article on Ben Lee was about how, these days, he gets on very well with the job of being creative, and feeling easy with making, in his case, music for the world to hear.  It had not always been so clear cut for him.  He had been through a tough patch in his life, the typical story of the first love breakup from the girl he’d thought he’d marry and how the world ended for a while because of it.  He started acting out, record agencies didn’t want a bar of him and his productivity was going downhill.  He decided to bail out for a while, and spent some time in India in an ashram sort of place meditating, doing yoga and purging himself of all the junk. One night towards the end of his stay there they asked him to sing a song for the group, someone had said that they thought this guy might be good with a guitar.  So he blew their socks off singing a carefully chosen song, and he sung it like he’d never sung it before.  The music coursed through his veins and the song came from the heart in a way he’d never experienced before.  The leader of the ashram came to him afterwards and said ‘each of us has something to share, to give and for the world to experience, and we need work out what that is for ourselves and set about doing it.’  It was a very simple philosophy about priorities, and focusing on the most important things and purging the rest, because the rest is of little to no consequence.  Subsequently Lee wrote the album Awake is the New Sleep, a commercial hit and an indication that he well and truly had his mojo back.

The story of Eat Pray Love is sort of similar, so I won’t go into it, you’ll just have to read it sometime.  Sufficed to say it’s about a woman who sets out on a year long trip to sort herself out, and returns home a year later completely purged of all the junk and clear about the importance of ‘staying clean’.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that these days I’m seeing that it’s important to recognise priorities, and to focus every day on them.  First of all, of course, to work on having good relationships with family and friends.  But second of all, that in the capacity of working life, it’s important to knock out all the junk and focus just on what’s really important, and to work at that, and to do it well, and to always strive to do better.  I’d say I’m doing well at eradiacting the junk, and focusing on producing quality images. It’s always a work in progress but in times of difficulty I try to ask myself Am I Happy?  If the answer is no then I don’t waste much time finding a solution, because there’s no time to lose.  And the flow on from that is that I’m open again to making good photos.  My best pictures come when I’m relaxed, happy and open to the creative process.  Apparently taking photos is my thing, it always was and interestingly, in the most junky period of my life I wasn’t taking photos at all.

It was just nice to read about a similar process that another creative person had gone through.  It’s all good, just thought I’d share it.

The picture I’ve posted here was taken in Hong Kong about six months ago.  The blog doesn’t do it justice but I just love the myriad of ordered colour.  I took it on a steamy night standing on Kowloon looking back at HK island, of the lights of all the skyscrapers.  I’ve subsequently had it framed (, and it looks amazing on the wall.  I love the vibrancy and the curves, for me it’s a very upbeat image that captures the energy of Hong Kong by night, in maybe a slightly different way than the standard stock shots you generally see.


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