Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mother-Daughter Time

The Da Vinci Code... (Light Is Everything)

Light is Everything. It's true - everything depends on light: without it, plants wouldn't grow, lambs wouldn't frolic and the earth would just be a cold dark rock spinning in space. Photographic renditions of light have the capacity to define form, create mood, and transform a scene. No one knew this better than the Old Masters - like Da Vinci and Rembrandt - with their chiaroscuro revealing an exquisite play of dark and light - imagine what those guys would have done if they had cameras!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Making Portraits

Did a lovely studio portrait shoot on Sunday night, for my friends Richard Allen and Karen Pearlman of the Physical TV Company. We've known each other for the past 20 years and have done occasional collaborations in a variety of creative media. Karen needed a head-shot for publication in an upcoming edition of Reel-Time "Australia's Critical Guide to Contemporary Performing Arts". (...more about that in a later post.)

Portrait shoots can be challenging, because creating a good image is so dependent on the interaction between the photographer and the person - the trick being your ability to communicate effectively and to direct without being intrusive on the subject's process - all the while keeping your head across all the technical aspects of the sophisticated machinery you are driving - lights, camera, action! - It's quite a skill!

It was also quite interesting with these two, because although they are both professional dancers and teachers and film-makers and choreographers of many years experience - they still both expressed how difficult it can feel to find themselves in front of a stills camera... so it kind of got it across to me that if these two are at all disquieted about the idea, then why would I expect anyone to be comfortable about being photographed?! I might as well just accept that fact and learn to work it to everyone's advantage... Knowing that most people feel that a camera is a magic black box that will steal their soul goes a long way to beginning to understand how to approach portrait sessions and how to work with and allay the fears and reactions it can bring up. Seeing the shoot as a collaboration between the sitter and the photographer, in which both people create the image is a vital distinction. To affirm that a photograph is to be made, not 'taken' is a subtle but definite distinction that changes everything in the attitude and intention within a shoot. It got me thinking once again, that the real heart of photography is about communication, respect and trust.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Inviting the Muse

It's so true, you have to be willing to get bare and raw for the Work to begin, to strip away the fetters and baggage... So often the Known only serves to inhibit. Much of my best work has happened when I have no idea what I'm doing, where I'm going with it... It's certainly not dependent on 'feeling good' or even being the opposite cliché of the 'angst-ridden artist'. There's no 'state' that tells me how good the outcome will be according to my subjective assessment at the time of creation... Only that the state of complete immersion in the creative moment can feel entirely divine... It's peculiar, one never knows when the muse might strike - only that if the hand is not holding the paint-brush, or the pen, or the keyboard, or the shutter-release, then there surely won't be a conduit or a means for the muse to make an appearance. Only by the action of setting forth, a destination in mind, but no attachment to the actual end-point can creativity be explored. In opening up to chance and serendipity, one might end up somewhere entirely different from what one imagined in getting up that morning... but what a marvellous discovery that might be...!

Artist's Statement:

I went to a writers soiree last Sunday organised by Beth Yahp of a reading by students and teachers of memoir and travel writing. After hearing some of the fascinating stories and motivations of the people I met there, I was inspired to pen an 'Artists Statement', defining some of what I do when I engage with photography

Beth also announced the launch of her latest Writer's Trekk to Nepal in October 2011. I'm very tempted to go, if it's not drawing too long a bow to say that I want to 'write stories with my camera'...

"When I practice photography, I am engaging in a creative space in much the same way as I might practice Yoga or meditation. It is an entry into a sublime space of contemplation. Which is not to say it is always quiet or retiring: sometimes it is fast and active, strident and joyful; and at other times it may be about hours of waiting, silently, observing the light. Or it might be all at once: playful, serious, determined, engaging, free. Outward and inward. It is an action that moves me through all states of mind, all states of being - and challenges me to transcend. In the moment that I make a photograph, I am not attempting to 'capture' anything. When I press the shutter, it is very often to express appreciation for something I have seen, or more often something I have felt: a connection; a presence; a moment of being. It is an applause for what IS. When I press the shutter, it is, for me, the sound of one hand clapping."