As much as I love writing, another one of my passions is photography. I don’t indulge in it as much as I’d like to and my equipment is fairly basic, but I’ve found it to be a rewarding experience all the same. I find there’s something encapsulating about that moment when you snap a picture and it can tell a story all on its own.
Photography has only been something I’ve taken up over the last three years. I was inspired by my colleagues at Telstra who where photographers, videographers and all round digital media gurus. That they could produce images to match nearly any corporate news story that was thrown at them was nothing short of miraculous at times and I would always marvel at what they would do. Even the most mundane of stories would be accompanied by images and video that brought it to life in a manner that words alone would never do.
We are, of course, visual creatures. That we design so much of our world to be aesthetically pleasing rather than strictly functional speaks volumes as to the importance we place on the visual spectrum. That we’ve invested significant resources, even in times less plentiful than now, in producing images of the world around us shows how we want to share and tell our own stories through this medium.
Broadly speaking I like to photograph three things: animals, landscapes and buildings. I’m not so keen on photographing people solely because I can’t find a way to make shots look natural as opposed to staged. When I set out to take photos I generally have a subject in mind, but the overarching theme I’d like to convey in my images is one of being alone. Whether it’s the feeling that you’re alone with nature, or it’s a moody, forlorn shot that induces a sense of loneliness, it’s a theme that I find it powerfully emotive. Being alone is something that we both fear, yet desire at the same time. We crave the company of others, but we also value our own space and our own solitude. But being alone doesn’t mean there has to be no one around, the famous V-J Day kiss in Time’s square is an example of this where the two subjects are alone relative to the celebrating crowds around them. For that briefest of moments the world was just the two of them, then they both went on their separate ways.
Most, but not all of, the photos I’ve used in this blog are my own. I put them in grayscale as it generally tends to reduce any standout colours in the image. That it also helps reflect my chosen theme doesn’t hurt either. I also find that grayscaling images gives them a certain timeless quality, something that I attribute to years spent reading history books with their black and white images.
I have a few favourites from those I’ve posted so far. For instance in “What helps you write?”, that featured on Freshly Pressed I was lucky enough to have a couple at the far end of a garden walkway on a beautiful sunny day at St Fagan’s Castle in Cardiff. While I love tunnel shots like this, I normally wouldn’t have taken a photo with them in it. But something struck me about it so I snapped away. In “An un-love letter to London” I was fortunate enough to get some perfectly overcast and stormy looking clouds to serve as the backdrop to the Tower Bridge in London, a photo I took in 2007 on a point and click camera. While in “The Cat and I”, a white and ginger stray cat was leading me around a derelict building site on Mykonos and looked up to me with big friendly eyes, having shared a frankfurter with him a little earlier.
The other thing I love about photography is often I can look at a photo I’ve taken and suddenly my mind starts weaving a story around the image. “The Cat and I” was the first time I took one of those stories and tried to write it down. I wasn’t entirely happy with it, but it was a start. I have a host of others that I’m planning on writing short, 1,o00 word stories for as a homage to the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.
What about you, what hobbies do you have that are complimentary to, or in complete contradiction to, your writing? Are you a budding photographer or just someone who likes to instagram your way around the day? Look forward to hearing from you.