The Ides of March

Making Pictures with John Enman

I have never been very positive about March. It is a transition period, or month for that matter, and we are now in the middle, well in “the Ides of March”, and I suppose I am not that good waiting for change.

I would like to go out and search for some subject that demands to be photographed, but I can’t rouse any creativity as I stand staring out the window at the melting snow.

Charles Dickens in “Great Expectations” aptly described my feeling when he wrote, “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

This foreboding for March began when as a child I read ‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville. I do remember that until my teacher made us delve into the imagery of the novel line by line, I had just enjoyed it as another adventure story.

“Beware of the ides of March,” said the soothsayer, and poor ole Captain Ahab gets himself pinned to a whale and dies in the end.

Even at that young age I wondered, why March?

Then to my dismay came the same words when I read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and there it was again;  he was told to beware of the ‘Ides of March’.

Today I know that the ‘Ides of March’ is just a way of saying March 15 in Roman times.  But I have been frustrated by March for a long time, and I want it to be over soon because I hate waiting for the unknown.

To make things worse there is, “In like a lion and out like a lamb”. Does it never end, these disturbing warnings of March?

I just want to wander around in a photogenic landscape taking pictures. I don’t care if there is lots of snow, or lots of grass; I just want one or the other.

Last week I was hired to do a staff photograph by a local organization. Gazing from the office window I saw a large lawn, but as I turned to the woman organizing things she said sadly, “It looks really nice, but it’ll be too cold for people at ten in the morning, and it’ll be muddy. We’ll have to move things around and use the cafeteria.”

I knew that would mean the 22 people, my lighting, and I would be jammed tight in that space, and I’d be spending time after the photo session “PhotoShopping” stuff out.

With a snow-covered lawn I’d have made them bundle up, or on a wet spring day they could have worn raincoats, and I would have photographed them under either of those conditions with success. I just shook my head and thought about poor Caesar and poor Ahab. March doesn’t work for me either.

I like the topography created by snow and I like trudging through it with my camera, and I always find something to photograph.

Spring works for me also, I don’t mind rain, and mud is just a minor irritant.   I like nothing more then photographing fog moving across a rain soaked ridge. Yet March doesn’t give much, it just makes one wait.

The host of the British public television program ‘Making Things Grow’, Thalassa Cruso, once quipped, “March is a month of considerable frustration – it is so near spring, and yet across a great deal of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away.”

And prolific writer Ogden Nash said “Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes, the wind will presently disappear, the taxes last us all the year.”

March, in my opinion, is not a month that photographers embrace. Well, maybe a foray or two to photograph some hungry coyote, or deer wandering the countryside, and some birds that hung about through the winter are seen looking for any morsels they can find.  But even for those subjects one has to hunt in an uninspiring landscape.

I suppose we could put our heads down and get up earlier because of the time change (one more problem with this month), in anticipation of a better season and friendlier months, and just march onward, awaiting a time to do photography again.

These are my thoughts for this week.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me. Email your comments and suggestions to me at emcam@telus.net or phone 250-371-3069

John Enman owns and operates Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops, selling an interesting selection of used and new photographic equipment and offers professional wedding photography and photographic instruction.  Check out www.enmanscamera.com.