This post was meant to be about something other than what I’m writing here. I’ve been trying to write it for a couple of days; words are failing me right now. I can’t quantify my thoughts. Each time I write something it feels wrong, like the words I’m using aren’t good enough. I don’t know why this is. It may be because my anxiety has been high during the last week. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe I really don’t have anything to say.
So instead of fighting myself in my mind about my inadequacies as a writer, I’m giving up on that post. I’ve saved it in drafts, in case I feel one day like I can find the right words.
Instead, here’s a photo from my recent holiday in St Kilda. I hope you like it because I do.
For approximately 18 months I have been interviewing people for the podcast Art Supply Posse. I’ve chatted with a variety of artists as well as retailers of art supplies. Everyone from Kevin Murphy – whose art has been commissioned by such luminaries as The Rolling Stones, Game of Thrones & now runs his own art school, Gosia Orlinksa who is an artist & an art therapist to ceramicist Julia Skott who challenged me to label myself as an artist.
I love bringing these chats to our listeners. I try to guide our conversation in a gentle way so that it sounds like a chat between two friends as opposed to a question & answer type interview. I don’t know about you but I prefer to listen to a podcast where it sounds like I’m listening to a couple of friends have a conversation. It makes me feel like I’m in the room with them.
That might sound like it’s difficult to achieve but I’ve found that once people start talking about the thing they love, such as painting with watercolours or pouring alcohol based inks onto canvas, the conversation flows naturally. People slip into that world, their world of art & creativity & their conversation carries you into that world too.
Talking to so many artists who are often at different stages of their career to each other has made me realise a few things about myself & my long held views of my creative abilities. And I suspect these realisations have occurred to some of our listeners too.
By far the majority of artists have had family support to pursue their creative endeavours. Some have or had artistic parents & most have or had parents who encouraged the creativity when they weren’t creative themselves. Yet even artists with family supported have occasionally had doubts about their work. This goes against my expectations; surely only those who suffer from doubting their art are people like me who were actively discouraged from making art?
Turns out that’s not the case. Self doubt seems to affect a lot more artists than I expected. The more I hear this expressed by artists, the more I realise that its almost common among creative people. I’m always grateful when someone I follow on Instagram posts something about how they’re in a creative rut that they’re having trouble getting out of. Not because they are in that place but because they are sharing it. The more creative people can see that self doubt is common, the better. It will make it easier for us all if we know that self doubt is common & can be worked through, if thats what is wanted.
Everyone I have spoken to has encouraged our listeners to continue following their artistic pursuits or to take up something that they’ve always wanted to try but haven’t had the courage to do so. The more I hear this the more encouraged I am to continue with my creative loves. I can now say I am a writer & a photographer. It turns out, despite my fears otherwise, admitting these things won’t kill me! It doesn’t even hurt me!
Give it a try yourself, if you’d like to call yourself an artist, a writer, a filmmaker or photographer or whatever it is you know deep down you are. It won’t hurt, I promise! Start saying it out loud to yourself, then try it on your pets. Pretty soon you’ll find it easy to slip into conversation. It doesn’t matter if you don’t make a living from your creativity & it doesn’t matter if you don’t ever want to pursue it financially. Claim the thing you are. You claiming it & proclaiming it will make it easier for someone else to claim their thing. That I can also promise.
I was lucky enough to meet with a good friend in Melbourne last Thursday. We’d decided earlier on this year that we needed a break from our lives & flying to Melbourne for a few days away seemed like a good idea. It gave us a concrete point in the future that we could work towards, coming in handy when we were wondering if we could get through what life was throwing at us at various times this year.
As I am wont to do I packed my camera into my handbag, expecting there would be opportunities to take photos of something, somewhere. Thankfully, Melbourne delivered. The weather was beautiful & the vibe in the CBD seemed to echo the weather. I had Friday to myself whilst my friend attended a conference, so I spent the the day walking with my camera.
I thought taking my time to wander the city slowly, sitting down whenever I felt like it & paying attention to the light & people within it would hopefully provide me with some opportunities to take photos that I could be happy with. As I moved through the day I found myself yet again being drawn to people with their dogs. Many were walking together, some people were carrying their dogs in their arms & others were sitting with their dog by their side.
I find dogs more interesting than their owners, although I pay attention to the owners in case it is worth focussing on the them in lieu of their dog. I want to know what the dogs are thinking & feeling & try to capture that. I like to think this guy in the photo above was watching me, making sure that I wasn’t going to be a threat to his owner & then wondering what on earth I was doing. To him I probably looked weird standing nearby, relaxed but holding a strange thing in front of my face. He relaxed once he knew I wasn’t going to be a threat & moved his attention elsewhere.
Reflecting on this moment & looking at other opportunities I’ve had trying my hand at street photography I’ve realised that the genre of street photography of dogs appeals to me. It ties together two things that I love – taking photos & dogs. It seems like a natural fit so I’ve decided to improve my skillset within the streets of where I live. It’s not enough for me to wait until I’m in Melbourne or another city. I want to take these types of photos more often so the sensible thing to do is to do it locally. If I have any luck with this project I’ll post images here.
As I write this I find it difficult to believe that 12 months ago I was China for the first time, alone, exhausted, ill-prepared for the oppressive humidity at Shanghai Airport, trying to make my way through customs with no knowledge of Chinese & no clear idea of where I needed to be going. I was attending a conference for work & due things going on in my life I wasn’t able to bring my husband along with me to enjoy the experience of a visiting a country I’d not been to before, nor was I able to extend my stay beyond the five days of the conference.
On the second last day of my stay I had a few hours of free time so I joined a couple of people I met at the conference on a walk to try to make our way to a pagoda located on the top of a mountain, that could be seen from our hotel. We weren’t able to get to it so instead walked the gardens located at the base of the mountain enjoying their tranquility & beauty.
I was amazed to see the air full of dragonflies. They flitted around, paying no attention to me standing there, gobsmacked to see so many of them at once. I guess the combination of the humidity & the abundance of water provides a perfect home for them. They can be just seen in the photo above as mere specks in the sky; I didn’t have a lens suitable to capture them close enough but I didn’t want to edit them out of the photo either.
Travelling somewhere new is an experience like no other. The excitement of new surrounds & the possibilities of what photographic opportunities might arise cannot be matched. Unfortunately I don’t get the opportunity to travel to new places often. I do visit Melbourne a few times throughout any given year so I’ve been trying to focus my attention on capturing the things about the city that to me make Melbourne feel like Melbourne. That allow me to look at them when I’m home & think yes that photos speaks of Melbourne, at least to me anyway.
I wonder if I can create photos like this of my local area? Can I look at the places I’ve traversed so often & find something of interest in them? I think I’ll give it a try. It cannot hurt & it might just help me improve my photographic skills. Regardless of the outcome of this challenge I’ll write about it here. Hopefully I’ll have a photo or two I’ll be happy to share sometime in the near future.
This weekend past saw me in Melbourne holidaying with a newer friend. When packing I decided not to pack my camera. My thought process being that I wanted to focus on relaxing, instead of feeling like I “had” to use my camera. Of course as we pounded the pavement of Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday the urge to capture the scenes that caught my eye was strong. I took out my iPhone with the intent of using it as my camera.
Weirdly enough I found myself stuck. I couldn’t use it. I felt ridiculous, wanting to use my iPhone in lieu of the camera I didn’t have. So I put it away. I replayed this in my mind that evening as I was trying to fall asleep. Without a camera in hand I felt exposed. Yet I have read probably hundreds of articles over the years about photographers who exclusively use their camera phones. Surely if they can then I can too? Everywhere we went people were using their phones for one thing or another.
So on Sunday I vowed to try again. This time it felt a little easier, I guess because I’d talked myself into letting go of the unease. I took photos that I’m happy with. Which is really all I want from my photography. I want to makes images I’m happy with, that I can hang on my walls to admire. Preferably with my camera as it seems I’m more comfortable using it as a device to capture things than I am with my iPhone.
Recently things aligned in my life to allow me to attend a photo walk that I’d been hoping to get to for over 12 months. Not living in the city the photo walk is held in was the biggest hurdle for my attendance.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was excited at the prospect of stretching myself photographically and learning a thing or two. It is not often I get two hours of dedicated photography time. I love the vibrancy of Melbourne at night but I rarely get to experience it with a camera in hand.
As our guides began going over their recommendations for shooting at night I realised I knew what they were talking about. Discussions of camera settings, rules to stick to & ones to break, I knew this stuff . I learnt it a long time ago. I simply hadn’t had the chance to concentrate on photographing life at night so that knowledge had been filed away. Thankfully the realisation of this simply increased my excitement. I slipped into the zone and pretty soon was surprised to find the two hours were up. The photo walk was done. The key now is to utilise that knowledge, practicing often so I don’t forget.
I love photographing the streets of Melbourne. I particularly find the variety of architecture in the CBD inspiring, so the bulk of my photos taken in Melbourne predominately feature buildings.
I’ve recently come to enjoy photographing the graffiti found in so many laneways and other spaces around the CBD. The colours, mostly bright bold shades, almost scream at the viewer for attention, and the artistic quality of so much of the artwork is high. I wouldn’t hesitate to hang some of them on the walls of my home, if that was possible. The idea that a piece of artwork might not be there the next time I visit, is both exciting & disappointing at once. At least by taking some photos I can admire them into the future.
These two photos were taken in Hosier Lane, which has been on the list of places for tourists to visit for years. I used to avoid it because of the tourists, but now I don’t. Now I look forward to what I’ll discover during my next visit.