Photographing small moments of beauty has – over the past few months – become incredibly important to me. When I am anxious I find myself unable to see the world properly. Effort is needed, either medical or physical – often both – to pull my mind out of anxiety. For some time afterwards I feel as though I’m teetering between two realities: the anxious & the non-anxious me. It’s a weird feeling but I have become accustomed to it. During the time of afterwards it helps me if I can distract my mind to help ensure it doesn’t become anxious again.
The easiest distraction can be found by cuddling my dogs. I swear that they are therapeutic! They sit with me, lick away any tears that may be lingering & do their damnedest to keep me calm.
My habit of taking my camera along to my pole fitness classes has provided me with countless opportunities to capture small moments of beauty. These photos are my favourite to take although I’m finding it difficult to articulate why. This is my fourth attempt at this post; I can’t find the right words to express how I feel when I take the photos of these women moving in beautiful & athletic ways, nor afterwards when I look back at them. The closest word I have to describe taking the photos is joy because as I look at the movements through my camera thats often what I see, but that’s not really right. Delight probably best describes my feelings when I look back at my photos but it isn’t really that either. Why is it so damn hard to describe these feelings? I suppose for you, the reader, my feelings don’t make much difference to my photographic results. Except I think actually they do. If I wasn’t enjoying myself when I was taking photos then I don’t think I would push myself out of my creative comfort zone. I wouldn’t be looking to improve my technique or try different things; I’d simply be happy phoning it in. Or not even bothering to try in the first place. Yet because I love what I am doing I keep striving to improve, to notice even smaller moments of beauty & try to capture them.
The photos that accompany this post were taken as we were getting ready for Aerial Showcase 2019. Yes, I took part & yes I had my camera. I couldn’t resist bringing it because I knew there would be moments to cherish later on. I found myself having to put my camera away, lest I be late getting myself ready but I’m glad I had it with me. The photos (I’ll be sharing more in a portfolio here) make me smile. What I’d like to do with them next is to have them printed. I think it will be nice to be able see the photos hanging on a wall, reminding me that yes indeed there is beauty everywhere if you look for it.
How is it already October? Where has the year gone? I find it hard to believe that my husband & I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary next Wednesday. 15 years! WTF? Two days after that & I’ll be performing in the 3rd Pole Fit Mildura Showcase. Yet again, WTF? It only feels like moments ago that I was doped on painkillers due to injury so I could participate in the 2nd Showcase. And it does not feel like I’ve been married for 15 years. What the actual fuck?
So considering all that I thought it a good idea to write my first Taking Stock post. As a way to feel like I’ve got some hold on life, sure, but also to take a micro look at my life & appreciate what I have. You probably don’t need me to tell you, but Pip from MeetMeAtMikes writes the best Taking Stock posts. She encourages others to take stock & kindly provides her taking stock list on her blog. Thanks Pip, I love the idea of doing this every now & again.
Here’s my list; perhaps you’d like to make one yourself?
Making Art gifts for two friends. I can’t say more, in case they read this post!
Photographing My dogs, my friends at pole fitness, the setting sun. These are my go to things to photograph at the moment.
Cooking a cake to enjoy on our wedding anniversary. Well, ok I haven’t baked it yet, but I’m going to next week.
Reading True Stories by Helen Garner. If you don’t know it, it’s her collected works of non-fiction. I’m really enjoying it. I’m also reading the latest issue of Flow magazine. It’s always an enjoyable read.
Sipping Japanese Sencha tea from T2. It ties for my favourite tea, along with their Melbourne Breakfast.
Looking into buying a new washing machine. Ours is 10 years old. It’s not working very well anymore. I have no idea what I want, other than a machine that actually works. So I’ll be doing lots of online research before laying down any cash.
Listening to Garbage, Amanda Palmer, Florence & The Machine and Lorde. I can’t get enough of these women lately. They’re all my favourites & I love listening to them nice & loud.
Wishing that we were living in our new home. Not long now, hopefully.
Enjoying eating meals that I made in bulk & froze into servings for two. Makes life easy, although I don’t seem to always be organised enough to cook this way.
Waiting for daylight savings to start. Extra daylight in the evening is great, it always feels like I get a lot more done. I’m more productive of an afternoon & evening which is probably also why I like daylight savings so much.
Loving my A5 Cahier notebook from Pebble Stationery Co. It uses 52gsm Tamoe River paper which is so beautiful to write on. Pebble is an Australian company & I have the pleasure of interviewing the founder Lois Ho for an episode of the Art Supply Posse podcast. Which I am going to encourage you to listen & subscribe to 😉
Liking making the incredibly indulgent XXL Death by Chocolate Cookie by Sally’s Baking Addiction. I make these when I’m craving chocolate. Really craving it, but don’t actually want chocolate. Which seems like a misnomer I know. I make them as two larger cookies; the first time I baked this recipe I made it as one but couldn’t eat it in one sitting. It could probably be made into smaller cookies, but where’s the fun in that?
Buying a beautiful teapot from a store from a store on the Japanese website Rakuten. I accidentally broke my favourite teapot on the weekend. It’s no longer available, of course, so I spent way too long looking for a replacement. Warning: if you’re as in love with all things Japanese like I am, you’ll be tempted to buy all the things. You have been warned 🙂
Watching series 11 of Gruen, by the ABC. I love Wil Anderson. He’s one of my favourite comedians. This show never disappoints. I’m also loving the comedy panel show Insert Name Here, with comedian Sue Perkins. She’s great & so is this show.
Hoping that I get through our showcase performance uninjured. Last year I had a spectacular fall at the beginning of our piece during full dress rehearsal on performance day. It meant I had to pull out of one of the pieces I was to perform in. And I performed whilst on a lot of painkillers. I won’t post a photo here of my bruised & battered knees. They took the full brunt of my fall. It’s not a pretty image.
Needing more sleep. Its the story of my life at the moment
Wearing whilst unpacking (see below for more details) I found a bikini set that I bought a couple of years ago but haven’t actually worn. I think it will be perfect for wearing to my pole fit class. I shall wear it to tomorrow nights class.
Following I interviewed Jane Mills for an episode of Art Supply Posse, during which she talked about streaming on Twitch when she makes her art. I knew little about Twitch, other than that its a platform for gamers. Turns out there’s more to it than that. That chat led me to join Twitch & I’ve watched her art streams a couple of times now. I’m really enjoying it. If that’s you thing give her a follow. You won’t regret it.
Noticing my stone fruit trees are all in various stages of blossom. So is the lemon tree. I love this time of year, the beauty of the blossoms & the promise of fruit to come.
Sorting through the boxes that we’ve had in storage for the last four years. Almost everything we own has been in storage in our shed as we build our house. As it’s nearing completion I’ve begun unpacking. A lot of it is going to goodwill or into the bin. It turns out there’s a lot of stuff that we own that we don’t actually need.
Getting excited to see U2 next month in Adelaide. I’ve seen them every time they’ve been in Australia since Popmart & I’m excited for the Joshua Tree tour. I know it’s going to be great.
Saving offcuts & scraps of vegetables, coffee grindings, used tea leaves etc & dumping them all into my new Bokashi bin. I had a voucher for Biome Eco Store & had to buy myself one. It feels good using all that waste to create good stuff for the garden.
Bookmarking various writing websites. Both as a means to look into courses to take to improve my writing skills but also publishers so I can submit my children’s stories to the slush pile. I hope to break through the pile to become a published children’s book author.
Coveting Fujifilm’s newly announced X-Pro3 mirrorless camera. I have the original X-Pro1, bought at a terrific price once it had been on the market for 18 months or so. I love it, but its time for an upgrade. I’m hoping when the price is announced in mid October, coinciding with it becoming available to buy, that I’ll be able to afford one.
Opening a zine called Scotland On Film. I purchased it from a guy who posted a thread on Reddit. It arrived today.
Giggling when listening to comedy podcasts. Or any comedy really. But comedy podcasts are my thing. Two new episodes of The Little DumDum Club & DYKWIA are waiting in my podcast app to listen to which I’ll do once this post is finished. Give them a listen too, once you’ve listened to Art Supply Posse 😉
Feeling a sense of renewal. It’s a bloody wonderful feeling, throwing away all the unneeded stuff we own. I highly recommend it.
Hearing the gentle breathing of Zena & Cadel as they sleep. I love my dogs 🙂
Obsessing about the aforementioned X-Pro3. Yes I’ve got it bad!
Well thats my list done. I’d love to hear if any of this resonates with you. And go write your own taking stock list. It’s a fun little exercise.
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.
I have been enjoying exploring the possibilities that double exposure photography can bring. Initially I experimented with my iPhone to see what I could create. Happily making double exposures with my X-Pro1 is as easy an experience as it is with my iPhone. I like the otherworldliness the images create, the not quite rightness.
I entered the world of double exposures because I was looking for a way to express my world through the lens of living with anxiety. However as I have moved through this world learning about how to create the images I have come to realise that I simply enjoy making them. They will not be the only images I make, rather they will be another tool to express myself, to show the multifaceted elements of my life, with or without anxiety.
I came across Pebbles when I was wandering around Melbourne looking for things to photograph. She could barely contain her excitement when I crouched down to photograph her. As a one & a half year old Staffy cross, it’s little wonder! Moments after taking this photo she escaped her owners grasp & did her best to clean my face, as apparently it was in need of a tidy 🙂
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.
My third & final favourite photo from 2018 is of my nephew. I am by no means a portrait photographer. Up until mid way last year I got no pleasure out of taking photos of people. However I found myself keen to capture my nephews, partly because toddlers change quickly but also because it’s easier to photograph something you love. I now look forward to photographing them as they grow.
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.
As every photographer who is trying to photograph something that qualifies as tourist related knows, it can be difficult to photograph a thing in a way that isn’t commonly seen. I suspect in many cases when taking photos for a client they don’t necessarily want something overtly different, particularly if the image is in some ways abstract in the context of the larger thing. Luckily for me my client, whose family own three paddle vessels, doesn’t mind me attempting to capture the unnoticed details of their vessels.
I was drawn to this rope, wound as it is, awaiting possible use. I felt compelled to capture it. I still quite can’t voice why it is that I like it.
It could be because it’s not something I imagine when I think about paddle vessels. It could be that I know the rope and metal were at one point in a natural state unrelated to the finished product I see.
Perhaps I don’t need an explanation as to why I like it. It simply exists as something that I appreciate. And might actually print and hang on my wall.