Recently I spent a bit of time planning future photography trips and while sticking virtual pins into an electronic map, marking the places I wanted to visit, I realised that my time is no longer my own. Completely unnoticed by me, at some point in my life I stopped just popping out to take photos of whatever part of the landscape happened to take my fancy and without realising it my photography became a hunt for seasonal colour.
Even just in East Anglia, the changes are quite relentless when you think about it... starting in spring when yellow fields of oil seed start to pop up over the landscape, once this wave of yellow is under way carpets of bluebells start to cover the floor of our woodlands and early mornings are spent in dark woods waiting for the first rays of sun to light the scene. As the purple starts to fade and the cereal crops start to get higher, dots of red poppies begin to appear or if you are lucky whole fields are splashed with vivid red. It's not quite the south of France but as summer gets hotter (or wetter as is usually the case) rows of purple lavender and the occasional field of sunflowers can be found nestled amongst the English countryside. If you haven't had enough of colourful landscapes by now our heathlands become a glorious patchwork of pink heather and green ferns while at the same time harvest begins and fields become strewn with hay bales and the race is on to photograph these icons of British summertime before the farmer carts them away... and then autumn begins.
Whatever it may be, the quest to catch that perfect display in the perfect light can be strangely addictive and as a result much of the year my time is now spent chasing around the countryside looking for the latest crop or wildflowers to be in bloom.
You wouldn't think getting 'the shot' would be that hard, it's not like flowers can run away or anything, but the problem is the best locations are rarely on the doorstep and drives of two hours or so are not uncommon, combine that with sunrise times beginning with four and ending in am and you're starting to be get the picture. Even once arrived there's no guarantee that the light and conditions will be favourable, I could be in danger of slipping into the realms of understatement, but being on the road at 2am to go and possibly take a photo of some flowers requires a bit of dedication or possiblyinsanity.
Is all this planning good for the creativity though? Following a timetable rather than going with the flow of the creative juices? Well maybe not always but having an assignment, even a self-imposed one with a natural deadline, can be quite effective in pushing you on to get the shot you want and if you don't get it, well there's always next year.