Let’s not lie, there’s something magical about photography.
The act of taking an image, a snapshot of time. The intimate act of caressing the highlights and shadows, colours, tones and composition until it is just as you had in your mind. Whether close to reality or greatly exaggerated, it is the act of taking a record
Whether it’s digital or film, there’s an element of the surprising and humbling that come into every single image that makes it into our portfolio. There’s always a story or a meaning, a moment, an emotion.
Let me tell you about what I love about Photography.
I love the darkness… I love (even though, at the time, love is far from what I am feeling) getting up early. Rising at an hour that belongs to the possums, fruit bats and the taxi drivers. Roads lie empty like un-explored paths, street lights illuminating the bare black bitumen and deserted sidewalks. There’s a calming silence about this hour. Traffic lights let you go on your merry way, passing through the ghostly empty places that in a mere few hours, will be back to the chaotic mess that they were created for.
I love the way the moon illuminates and shines new shadows. The way it becomes the guiding beacon of the evening. The obsidian blackness of night and its ability to wipe away the effect of time moving forward. As my car treads a few hundred kilometres away from my warm bed, which tried its’ very best to keep me, I am comforted by the still silence of night, almost that feeling of invisibility.
To listen and hear the breezes, the way the wind whips through the trees and the buildings, the roar of the ocean that you cannot see, the birdlife in the distance communicating. Remove a sense – in darkness’ case, sight, and all your other senses become heightened. It’s amazing to be absolutely surrounded in nature and unable to see any of them (few cases excepted).
I love the elegance. That little bit of magic that you create with your camera. That feeling of elation when you capture a shot that you know is a keeper, one for the wall, to be printed out and admired. You are a creator, you have taken a tool, crafted an image – a representation of a time and a place and made it your own. You are akin to the painter, the printmaker, the fashion designer. As a creator your mind is alive with sparks and ideas, to take them forth with gusto and give life to it.
Your camera, a beautiful work of art in its’ own right. It is your best friend, it is the quintessential part of the equation; without it you are just a visionary. Each choice based on which camera is made individually. The way it sits in your hands, the carefully crafted details, the layout of the buttons and controls. The textures of the rubber grips, the attention to detail of these beautiful beasts start at the base and do not finish until you have your image on your computer.
I love exploring. Having the free rein of time to get blissfully lost, appreciate every new scene with open eyes, camera at the ready and knowing that there is no schedule to adhere to. I firmly believe that I do my best work when I am exploring, as I am conscious, but not trying to let others’ work or ideas sway me in any particular direction. It’s the organic approach. Me in my world, my time. Of course there is situational awareness, but the internalising of the moment, the worn fingers that move the dials, the connection of mind to camera, the tiny equations happening that dictate whether the turn is to the left or right. It’s all exploratory.
I love the process. The simple fact that you cannot get a sunrise shot, without seeing the actual sunrise. The effort, sacrifice and time that you pour all your energies into, rewards you with an image, a trophy to say that you did indeed get up early, down a litre or so of coffee, put on your clothes, and walk out the door, knowing exactly what you were up for. If the sunrise did not happen the way you thought it might, it teaches patience, perseverance and humility.
As all processes go, they are not complete until the image is put on display. I love the editing process. Right through from the actuation that the shutter makes, the electronic magic that turns it into a RAW file writes it to memory card and then patiently waits for it to be transferred to my computer. Once it enters my editing software it is tweaked, accentuated in all the right places, judged, changed an infinite number of ways, and when I think it is the best it can be, I show it to the world. It’s not just an image of a scene. It is the end result of a long line of attention to detail, dedication to the craft and the passion of the pursuit.
I love the communities, the forums, websites and galleries. The joint thrill of a meet up, where two, three, four or maybe more photographers collectively chose the crazy hours to get up and pursue the rising sun, the starry skies or the wild weather that has intrigued us all.
Knowing that there’s many out there who are just like me. The ones that live and breathe for the right conditions to head to a location, the ones that watch the tides, the moon phases and the relative humidity daily makes me feel so much less strange about it.
We then get together whether online, in person or in a lecture and talk about our craft and what makes us tick and to continue to shoot. There is a camaraderie, healthy competition and the bucket lists of shots that we all want to live long enough to capture.
It is such a deep love that binds us all, a love of the gear, a love of the drive, passion, colours and tones. Support, empathy and mentor relationships are formed. The competition drives us to perform to produce better images, technological advancements in equipment tempt us with the latest and greatest. Photography crosses language barriers. If you cannot use words, use images.
So go forth, capture some beauty, appreciate everything that you do, and love doing it!