In praise of monotasking

As with many people I know, there is an unrelenting contest for my attention. From the moment I get up until the moment I turn out the light, someone or something wants me to listen, agree, react, spend, perform, change or press "enter." In my current job, I receive over 200 work-related e-mails a day.

A colleague asked me last week why I was attracted to photography. Although there are a number of reasons, the one he was able to appreciate fastest was the fact that using a camera lets me slow down and use a different side of my brain. As long as I'm holding my camera, I can view the world around me through a 2x1-shaped rectangle, one frame at a time. If I turn my lens this way or change my angle of view that way, a whole new vista comes into focus.

Time goes by at a different rhythm as I stop merely navigating my surroundings and start seeing and interacting with them. I can resolve complex scenes into their component lines, patterns, tones, textures and colours. I can isolate details and abstract them from their surroundings. I can see the world around me with fresh eyes.

Making pictures lets me concentrate on doing one thing at a time, because I choose to and to suit no one else but me. It's therapy and I'd miss it. So would the people who have to live with me.