Outside The Box

The sky finally cracked open. It’s been raining on and off for about nine hours and it’s showing signs of only getting stronger. Not the best weather for a glorious photo. In an empty charity shop with fifteen minutes to go I mull over the tenets of good photography and while I have an idea, I don’t have concrete points of reference to refer to. Scouring my head for something that isn’t really there is tiresome. I figured it was time to think outside the box.

It’s a good thing I’m at work, it’s the one place that has more helpful books than our local library or our house. If I’m going to learn about A-class photography, this will be the place that has a book on it.

I unashamedly acknowledge that I’m a predictable creature of habit. Most people would just have consulted a friend for basic pointers. I prefer consulting books. In my defence I do actually know a chap who happens to be an exceptional photographer. Unfortunately he’s just as fascinated by my wife’s picturesque architecture as I am so he was an automatic no.

I would ask my wife but that defeats the purpose of this photographic crusade. Her best friend Betty used to work down the road but has moved to Wales. Betty, and her work colleague Matt, had helped me price some cameras that had been donated to the store, with great aplomb.

I planned to ask Matt for advice in person over a drink (which I would buy him) because after two years of living here it had occurred to me that I hadn’t bothered to make any friends outside of work. Us creatures of habit get comfortable with a reliable cycle of predictable events. It’s why I work so well with timetables; there’s barely any room for error. Unfortunately it’s also easy to become stale, devoid of an adventurous spirit and overall less spontaneous.

I attempt to close up for the day, bang on 5pm but a lady, despite my disgruntled countenance, has forced her way into the shop as if letting herself into her own house and proceeds to browse. I take a deep breath, carry the sign in from the rain and lock the door behind me for fear of other petulant intruders avoiding the downpour. While she shops I take things upstairs and mull over what sort of text book might serve me best.

The lady was prompt and cheerful and left about five minutes later having spent a good amount of money. I was happy I hadn’t insisted she leave or I would have missed a sale. Sometimes not sticking so closely to the timetable pays off. Like the shopper I needed a book that was straight to the point. Poignant, purposeful and acute.

Having cashed up I was ready to go home, so I ventured to the book corner in hopes of finding something to fulfill this specific need. I often joked that our charity shop was secretly a genie; granting wishes of customers and staff alike from overeheard mumblings and half prayers. True to form I found exactly what I needed.

The book was titled “100 Ways To Take Better Photographs” by Michael Busselle. Honestly I didn’t need one hundred ways. Five would have been perfectly adequate but now was not the time to be snarky. I had found the perfect book! Now all I needed to do was read and practice!

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