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Thoughts on Fire & Photography, by Ian Shaw (click to open)


As you all know by now, the theme of next year’s event will be fire.  I’m looking forward to it, associating fire with that explosive creativity and innovation; that mad idea to try something new and exciting; “the dare”.  It’s typified in that moment when you finally get off the sofa and DO SOMETHING!

But it’s also the warmth that comes from being reassured in uncertain times.  The hearth, the inner confidence, the source of comfort.  as Susan Jeffers wrote (in one of the best selling books ever), ‘Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway’. Now that’s working positively with the energy of fire…

As a photographer, fire’s spark of innovation is at the heart of my practice.  But have you ever wondered what that impulse is that makes you want to stop and get the camera out? Or do you simply say ‘ooh I like that!’, post it on Instagram, then forget all about it?

Try pausing for a minute: What little fire was lit in your brain when you first saw it and wanted to take a photo?  What memories, emotions, dreams or fears were kindled by seeing it?  Some people would walk on by, but you chose to record it forever in an image – that’s got to be worth exploring.

When you look at an image this way, it’s not just a ‘nice view’, it’s a much more powerful thing.  It’s a mirror of how you felt at that moment in time.  As the photographer Ernst Haas said: “what we see is what we are.”  Spiritually, looking at why you like certain pictures can be a fascinating and rewarding thing to explore.

The next time you are out and about, grab your phone or camera and take a few snaps of things that appeal to you. Don’t analyse it – just snap away at things that you feel instinctively drawn to.  Then look at the pictures as a set when you get back home.  What do they reveal?

Maybe they reveal a little fire smouldering inside you that is wanting to be felt?

Ian Shaw


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