Today's interview with a philosopher who shares their passion outside of philosophy is Heidi Savage, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Geneseo. Her passion is photography. Let me know at helenldecruz at gmail dot com if you'd like to be featured!
Can you tell me something about your side-interest/hobby My hobby is that of taking photographs using a digital single reflex camera always on manual so I learn the ropes of how to set everything up to produce the effect I am going for, although I have a phobia of photographing people as I find it very embarrassing, save for the one I have included. I think photography suits my personality because while it requires a lot of work to produce something worth looking at, it takes no patience at all in collecting the material necessary to do so. Likewise, it’s a craft you can learn by trial and error, another aspect that suits me quite well.
My approach to issues in general is often akin to throwing spaghetti at a wall to see if it sticks. If it does, I guess it works. If not, I try again. I actually sometimes think of philosophy on this model, truth be told. I’m not really much for wasting time on something whose outcome is hard to predict. With photography, at least in the digital age, the result is right there, you can see it right away, and if it’s bad, you can just delete it and start over. Actually, I used to be a painter and sketch artist, but I found that it required too much commitment to one and only one piece at a time, and I became very obsessive and perfectionistic about it. So I stopped doing it. Then, I found the creative outlet for me: photography. Interestingly, I also learned that you can find out about how much your own biological shortcomings or differences can make to how you see the world, and then conjecture about how that affects your overall cognitive approach to things. My husband for instance is far sighted, and so his photographs often have long stretched out lines that disappear into the horizon. In contrast, I am near sighted, and so mine are often close ups. I often wonder just how much actual vision can literally affect your “vision.”
How did you get into this hobby? The story behind how I got into this is a bit depressing. My mom became very ill with inoperable, slow-growing brain tumors, and I was her care taker for about a year. Well, taking care of a sick person often leaves you sitting around a lot with quite a bit of anxiety. So writing was pretty much out. I happened to have a plain old canon powershot with me, and I just started taking pictures around the house — of flowers, houses, grass, whatever. Anyway, I found it quite relaxing. The whole process. Taking the gazillion pics of the same thing from different angles and in different lights and then editing them on my computer. It was something I could do that made me forget where I was for a little while.
Are there any significant accomplishments you’d like to share? Not especially. I’ve won a few online photo contests with some of my shots, but I’m still really just learning and with a tenure track job, my learning curve might be a bit longer than others.
Do you have goals that you want to achieve? I would like to learn how to take shots in low light and I would like to learn better how to compose a shot as well as take more impactful shots. I also have aspirations to own about 10,000 worth of different lenses! The lenses are more expensive than the cameras themselves I’m afraid.
Does your hobby relate to philosophy at all? Any crossovers? The only connection I see between philosophy and my hobby is that my personality and general approach to things is expressed in both, and in the connection between one’s actual physical abilities and one’s mind-set.
How do you make enough time for your hobby? These days I don’t. It’s something I now have to force myself to make time for. But when I am not teaching I will often get up at sunrise to catch those shots during what photographers call “the golden hour.”