Recently in the USA when I was photographing many wonderful places, I became somewhat overwhelmed by the millions of other photographers also photographing significant beautiful world icons. Although I always try to take an object in another way – creative it is said – what is the point? Millions of photos are now taken annually of some icons and I think many objects or places are satiated. As I had previously thought I would concentrate on Australia and try to capture the singular essence of my own country to which I have access, I wondered what I was doing in the US and determined that when I got home I would return to my original beginnings of making my own photographs and looking for a ‘feminine’ point of view. Other aspects of photography that I enjoy are telling a story and looking for shots that will add to a set. And yes, I do try to determine beforehand subjects I will work on but very often I become diverted as other entrancing subjects enter my vision. I have been living in the north (Darwin) for the major part of each year and last year I concentrated on monsoon weather, storms, saturated countryside, rejuvenating effect of water etc. They will be the subject of my exhibition there in March. I have had to look for northern landscapes that will appeal to their localised view. The people of the tropical north are enthusiastic about shots they recognise as coming from within their world. Conversely I find that southern audiences do not respond enthusiastically to northern subjects as it is out of their terms of reference. This is all very nice and the experience is invaluable, but what about me and my singular artistic bent? Will I ever have an exhibition of things that move me…
When I am travelling I am easily overwhelmed and distracted by the novelty of exotic locations and the sheer excitement of being there, so I tend to rush things. I am learning, gradually, to slow down and observe before photographing, giving myself a chance to see the possibilities and decide what to include in the frame. The challenge is doing all this fast enough to catch the moment. Constant practice is the answer, I think, along with better preparation (location research, thinking about possible approaches, choosing the right camera/lens combinations for the situation etc.) I’m working on that!
I am currently doing a Personal Photography Project course at PhotoAccess, though I don’t yet have a clear idea of where I am going with that. It’s taking time to find the right project to focus on. Meanwhile I am experimenting, trying to photograph every day and challenging myself by shooting in black and white. It’s a real challenge because I love colour and it’s a long time since I did any black and white work. It’s amazing how different a scene looks when the colour is taken away – it’s all about shapes and tones, something colour tends to disguise, so learning to see that way will be well worth the effort. I’m also enjoying printing some black and white work, experimenting with papers and printing profiles, which make quite a difference to the finished work.
I photograph whatever is around when I am travelling. I take gear specific for the situation – long lens and tripod/gimbal head or bean bags (if car bound) for wildlife; wide angle lenses and tripod for landscape. But when I am in the field I shoot as prolifically as I can thinking about the light and about how I will approach the image in post processing. I bracket shots (for both focus and exposure stacking) and take shots for panoramas to give me options later. I find the challenge and the skill is then looking for what is worth processing and what works together when I get back. When shooting I am also always thinking about series. “This should be great – how can I complement this shot with something else to build a series”. I have a few “topics” I keep in mind – “Bird’s eye view” (close-ups of eyes); “Women working;” so if I see an opportunity to build these series I take it. Recently I have been trying to post regularly to Instagram/Facebook and have found this a useful discipline. I am looking at a lot of my photos with fresh eyes and re-working them to work in monochrome and a square format. Some photos I have never worked up before but they call to me when I am looking for what to post next. I am also looking for images that will work as photogravure, which I want to get into in a more serious way. I used to do a lot of etching and did a couple of prints last year in a studio in Victoria. I like creating a print by hand and the tactile qualities of the hand-made print as well as the glorious range of blacks. I am like Marion in that sometimes I get saturated with travel photography and just want to photograph what I want – flowers and objects: hence the vase of roses in my instagram series (see @imagecapital and the Feb comp night). This image took me the whole day by the time I had picked and arranged the flowers and setting, captured and processed the image. I am happy with it but not sure what to do next. Always looking.
I go out looking for specific things. For example, I looked for yellow things while shooting for my most recent “Urban yellow” series. However, I also photograph anything interesting that catches my eye on the way past. I have worked extensively with my collections of objects but not so much recently. I keep revisiting my old series and favourites (such as Lake George) looking for new connections and interpretations.