When #lockdown inspires creativity: Greta Garbo

Echoes of the Soul ©FrogDiva Photography

Last week I shared the photographs from An Afternoon of Pearls that resulted from an itch to do something creative involving photography thus preventing us from going completely mad. We’ve faithfully kept up our mother-dauther portraits, our two-fies as we fondly refer to them, and these too are now a series with a surprising following, not just among friends and family.

Two Divas not for the road ©FrogDiva Photography

There is very little preparation and conceptualisation that goes into these shots. We basically just take it on the spur of the moment, but we do adhere to natural light. In the beginning we basically just used the iPhone camera, but later on, I decided I might as well practice with some of the filters and framing, so out came the tripod and my trusty Fuji X-T10 is happy to be back in operation!

One of my soul sisters is going stir crazy at home as well, and her outlet has been crocheting, churning out shawls at an impressive rate – when she’s not baking or cooking! Other photographer buddies are also suffering from cabin fever and are beginning to spew very interesting self-portraits as well. I would photograph my cats, if only they were as cooperative as Champagne used to be, but Lolita is asleep most of the time, and Cherry just won’t keep still long enough. And there is only so much of the satanic feline look that I want to put up with before she scratches with impatience.

Others are rediscovering carpentry and gardening skills, finally addressing those rooms, nooks and crannies that they have always wanted to re-do. Since family gatherings have basically been cancelled for Easter, it will be a very somber holiday, and the churches will remain empty, so it is also a good time for meditation and silent prayer. Have you tried listening to he Gregorian Chants these days with the general silence that has overtaken the world? They are more haunting than ever.

With Spring here in full force now, it is also the perfect gardening weather now, although I don’t quite trust the weather, with global warming and past history of April in Berlin. Today we had 22C but for all I know next week we might just have snow again! It happened last year, so I won’t bet on this warmth sticking around for very long.

If there is one thing 2020 has inspired me to do is to step out of my comfort zone. This applies to my writing, cooking, baking, and most certainly photography. I avoided being photographed for years, and stuck to the classic, conservative lines, taking risks only for documentary photography or photojournalism. Last December I was asked by a fellow photographer why I never ventured into portrait photography to begin with, and my reply was that it never interested me before, and I have no clue about using all the studio equipment. So if I do take the occasional portrait, it is definitely with natural light only.

Garbo re-born ©FrogDiva Photography

The lockdown and social distancing has limited my movement outside the home, so I figured I might as well practice my portraiture skills indoors with a very capable and natural model, and the results have been quite satisfying. Being stuck at home all the time has given a lot of people the opportunity to also catch up on tutorials and online master classes, looking over the shoulders of the pros who have been perfecting their craft over the years. The experimentation then becomes part of a learning curve, with trials and errors that lead to interesting results. The photograph above, for example, turned out very differently from what I had envisioned, and when I processed it with the heavy shadows (inspired by several other photographers), the Greta Garbo look on Maike simply took my breath away.

Someone recently asked me when I was finally going to upgrade my equipment, to which I retorted: when I can afford it, but more importantly, when I have earned the right to do so. A more sophisticated camera in the hands of someone who does not know how to maximise the potential or improve their own skill is a waste of time, treasure and talent if you ask me. My father used to say, stick to your equipment until you have mastered it, and only then should you move on and up.

Maybe I am being too hard on myself, and the universe is trying to tell me that it is time to let go of the past which held me back for too long. But I think I will stick around with the old hand for just a little longer…

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