Of all the days worthy of an occasion, birthdays are my favourite. The love and joy I have because I know you is amplified on your birthday. You were born, you’re still alive and I know you & want to celebrate with you. Sometimes birthdays afford me the chance to have my camera in hand & capture some of those birthday moments, such as in the two photos above. Neither of these photos scream birthday – there’s no cake or presents in sight – yet for me they encapsulate the birthday of my nephew Eli. Hats worn to protect delicate skin from the harsh Australian sun & inquisitive looks on faces. On my own birthday I like to celebrate by eating my favourite foods & embarking on a photography session of some sort. Ideally the people I love would be involved somehow during the day. After all, I cannot possibly eat an entire birthday cake on my own 😉
When I took my first pole fitness class a little over two years ago I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was hoping the class would be fun & might provide a way to get fit without feeling like a lot of effort was involved. By the end of that first class I knew I’d found a new habit. Unused muscles had begun to ache, invigorating me to the possibilities of what it could do if I used it in an unaccustomed manner. More importantly though I’d had fun. Attempting pole moves that were foreign to me felt weird at first but I laughed at the feeling of awkwardness & tried the moves anyway.
I knew I would never look as graceful or beautiful on the pole as the instructor but I was ok with that. I just wanted to keep going, to learn more moves & more importantly to me, test my body’s capabilities. So I returned the following week & pretty soon found myself a regular at the pole studio. I kept returning because I was enjoying myself & because I wanted to continue to see what my body could do. That remains a driving force today, challenging my body by constantly placing it into weird & wonderful positions.
I’ve never liked being photographed but now I have hundreds of photos of me on my phone, in probably as many positions, that serve as a reminder of how to do it again, but also as proof of my achievements.
Reflecting on these past two years attending the pole fitness studio, it’s obvious that my hopes to get fit & have fun came true. However the unexpected element from these two years are the friendships that I’ve formed.
I’ve always found it difficult to make friends. I’ve never liked putting myself out there, especially around people that I don’t know very well or do not know at all. Despite these anxieties I now call some of the women I’ve met at pole my friends. We’ve shared laughter & tears, secrets & triumphs, coffee, alcohol & food. We champion each other as we try out something new, applauding & shouting with glee at the successes. And encourage each other when it doesn’t quite work out.
I cherish these friendships & hope they prevail for many years to come.
For a long time I have found myself captivated when I see brides walking from one location to another in order for their wedding photos to be made. It is the beauty of their dress that catches my attention but that isn’t what keeps it.
I am really taken by what is happening around her. There is usually one or two photographers who direct her, plus the obligatory groom (who I’m rarely interested in) and sometimes the entire bridal party.
In the above case there was also a woman who worked as an assistant to the bride. The voluminous skirts and train were being carried by her when I first saw them. She proceeded to place everything as directed by the photographer, as the bride moved to sit down. I found myself watching her work more than I watched the actual bride. I wondered if she receives the acknowledgment she deserves. Is she paid well? Is she thanked for helping make everything run smoothly and appear perfect?
Perhaps one day I’ll find out the answers to these questions. It wouldn’t be appropriate to enquire whilst an assistant is actually working, so hopefully I’ll come across the answers in another way.
For several months I have been taking photos of my friends during some of our pole fit classes. Initially I began taking photos after badly injuring myself as a way of staying in touch with what was going on at the studio. It quickly became the highlight of my week. I began to realise that I enjoyed taking photos of the everyday going’s on during classes. There are so many ordinary yet beautiful moments taking place. A smile to a friend, shared laughter at a mistake made or celebrating the feeling of ‘getting’ a new & tricky move. All these things & more occur all the time. They may at the time be small moments but as I go through the images I’ve made I realise that collectively they form a bigger narrative. One that shows the beauty in the ordinary moments as women get together to gain strength & fitness through the use of a pole, a Lyra hoop or aerial silks. They also form an unbreakable bond through friendship.
Towards the end of 2018 and in the first days of this new year I (like many other no doubt) found myself flooded with emails and social media posts from a variety of sources urging me to set goals, resolutions and assess the year that was. I usually delete or ignore these. I don’t like making assessments of anything just because everyone says I must. Why that date? Why do it when everyone else is? What’s wrong with looking at my year, my body of work, hell even my current week, whenever I want?
However I decided to read two emails loosely belonging this theme. And I’ve given them some thought. They were both from two photographers whose work I admire and whose work I try to learn from. Their words were encouraging and honest and struck a chord. I have let their words settle in my mind and have decided to look at photos I made during 2018 and pick a few that I like.
Surprisingly almost all of them contain people, which is unusual for me. Normally I stay away from people photography, however towards the end of 2018 I found myself enjoying candid photography. I feel this genre is helping me to become a better photographer and look froward to expanding my skills during this year.