I started a counselling course today. I’m not sure if I’ll do the whole four years or just this one, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while and to me it feels like it will fit in really well with photography – almost like it’s part of it. Maybe it’s about trying to develop a set of skills that will work well together? I suppose I see photography, music and counselling as ways of communicating, but I think that the main skill in counselling is listening and I suspect that listening is also a large part of photography and it’s certainly true of music for me as I play mainly by ear. If it’s not listening per se for photography then it’s certainly having a mindset that allows me to stop and really ask questions about what is going on – motives, reasons and underlying assumptions. That seems essentially like listening to me; I don’t think photography is just about visual skills.
Self reflection is really important in counselling and I’m also being asked to do that as part of the photography; I suppose that there will be overlapping issues that feed off of each other.
At the moment, my mum is very ill. It looks like she has probably got cancer – we’re (my sisters, my mum and I) waiting for test results, but I’m not sure any of us really need to see them; we know what’s going on. I’m obviously spending a lot of time thinking about the future, both immediate and long term. How things will go in the next few months, how things will turn out, whether she’ll decide to get treatment or refuse it (she’s likely to refuse). I have a lot of photographs of my mum that my dad took when they were dating and first married. It makes me realise, more than ever, the significance of them to me and the eventual significance of them to my family. One day they will be the only part of her I have left, they will come to represent her, like a stand in for her physical presence. In a way music works the same way when there is a strong association. I’m finding photography a way to explore issues around mum’s illness, counselling will help me make sense of it, but music is suddenly almost impossible. Playing the violin or cello is a usually a happy place for me and I just can’t go there at the moment. That’s a bit tricky as I’m supposed to be learning some diploma pieces.