An Observation Project

A double exposure, playing with expectations of a sunset

It has been a while since I’ve stopped to photograph the setting sun in my backyard. More often than not I’ll stop what I’m doing & notice it, observe the beautiful colours – even the skies that are appear to be a single shade of blue, making them a lot less interesting than the skies full of yellow, orange & pink hues – have a small amount of beauty to them – and then continue on with what i was doing. But actually picking up my camera & photographing it, well i just hadn’t bothered. I’d sort of thought, what’s the point? There’s only so many times something can be photographed before it’s boring, right?

Over the past couple of days I’ve read about photographers repeatedly photographing something, whether it be something around their home such as a magnificent tree or something further afield such as a lake or river. As i read about these projects i found myself wishing i to had something to photograph. Not daily, i find a daily commitment to one thing difficult to work with. But once a week, or every fortnight, that works for me. Then i realised, i’ve kind of been doing that already, with my backyard sunset photos.

Ok, so i haven’t been photographing them a lot lately, but I’ve been intermittently photographing them for years. Why not return to it? Why are backyard sunsets any less significant than anyone else’s projects? They’re not, of course. I just hadn’t afforded them any real significance. They were simply a thing I’d randomly capture, a small moment of beauty to admire. I’m going to change this a little. Formalise it if you will. My aim is to photograph one backyard sunset every fortnight. Sometimes it may even be more often than that. I’ll share my results here, with you.

Is there something you’ve been thinking about doing? Undertaking a new art project perhaps, or learning a new skill? Maybe you too have a project sitting in the back of your mind, not yet expressed. Why not give it a go? Yo never know what may come of it.

An Update

Stars in my eyes

It has again been too long between posts. I want to write here, I really do. What stops me is the hang up I have around writing. I was told for a long time my love of writing was a waste of time. When you hear something enough you believe it. It’s sad but true. The mind is an amazing thing but it can often work against you. As someone with anxiety I know the truths of that.

But I’m here writing to you (assuming anyone is still reading this blog) & want to update you with where I’m at. I’ve spent a lot of this year concentrating on improving my art. I always feel good making art, so why not get better at it, right?
I’ve found a bunch of talented people on YouTube & SkillShare who share their knowledge in a fun easy way. Would you like me to share them with you? Perhaps that could be the topic of another post. Let me know.
Their enthusiasm for their art inspires me to improve mine but best of all I’m enjoying myself whilst learning. Practicing art is like meditation for me, I’m focussed solely on the task which means my anxiety is no longer with me.
Because photography has always been a love of mine I’ve wanted to step up a level, get better at the types of styles I love. For a long time I was scared of portrait photography. Scared the photos I’d make would be hated by the subjects. Over time I’ve come to realise that what matters is me liking it, not anyone else. I’m not a professional photographer. Whilst it’s ideal if the subject likes a photo I take of them, they don’t have to because I’m not relying on them buying my work. But restrictions around covid has made it difficult to got out & about whenever I want to. So I decided to turn the camera on myself. I don’t like being in photos, but if I’m the only subject available then I’ve got little choice. Thankfully a lot of creative photos can be taken in an untraditional way. I’ve been having a blast learning how to take them & continue enjoying them. Best of all I’m gaining photographic skills that translate outside of self portraiture. A win win if you like.

These photos are a couple taken during the past few months, that I can actually say I’m happy with. That I’m proud to share online. They represent a new confidence in myself which I hope continues.
So, if I may suggest something, take a moment to think about what you’d like to do more of. Or get better at. And then do it. You might just find you’ll love it more. Or you might find it’s no longer for you, which is totally ok. If that’s the case then think of all the exciting things you’ve yet to explore, and pick one. You just never know 🙂

Birthdays Are My Favourite Days

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 Words Don’t Come

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.

St Kilda pier

Gratitude For 2019

I’m a big lover of podcasts. I have 25 subscribed podcasts in my feed, most of which update weekly & I pretty much listen to them all each week. Last week I listened to two podcasts, back to back, that made me pause and think about my 2019. The first, Photography Radio, was a discussion from the host about why he picks his favourite 10 photos at the end of each year. He finds the task a good way to see where his photography is taking him and to note changes to his style that he may not have seen whilst actually taking photos.

In the second podcast, called The First Time podcast – the two hosts reflected on their 2019. Their career successes as authors but also books & podcasts they loved reading & listening to in 2019.

Inspired by these podcasts I decided to reflect on my own 2019. I feel like I tend to remember negative things that have happened more frequently than positive things so I thought it would be a great idea to take the time to think about good things from 2019. I’m also attempting to pick my favourite photos from the year, although that’s proving to be difficult. I’d have finished this post on Friday (it’s now Sunday) save for the fact that I’m having trouble picking favourite photos! I’m surprised at how many of the photos I really like. I’m also really happy to see how my photography has improved throughout the year. I can see where I’ve gone wrong, but most importantly I can see my growth.

Sometime during 2019 I became aware that what I want from my photography is to capture moments of everyday beauty. I was already doing this every week, when I was taking photos of my friends at my local Pole Fitness studio or during the times when I’d grab my phone to take some backyard sunset photos. However I wanted more. I felt if I took the time to look, I’d see there were moments of beauty all around.

Instead of writing a paragraph with each photo I’ve written a few words below them. I’d love to know what you think of them but more importantly, do you reflect on your year when it ends? Why or why not?

This is my favourite dog photo taken in 2019. I feel I have captured Zena’s personality perfectly
This photo of Paige was, I think, the first time I felt my quest to photograph my pole friends was starting to come together. It captures the beauty that I see in every class I attend
I spied this dog on Degraves Street in Melbourne, patiently waiting & watching as his owner ate lunch
I took this photo in Melbourne, it evokes the mood of the weather that day

I got to thinking about my highlights from 2019. Moving into our house at years end was the biggest thing to happen all year. It’s been a long process to get to this point & I’m grateful we finally made it.

Reinvigorating this blog is another highlight. I enjoy writing however I’ve long had trouble giving myself permission to write. Part of the work I did with my mentor Naomi Bulger during the year (another highlight for the year) was to work out what I wanted to do with my creativity. I came to the conclusion that writing weekly here was something I wanted to do. It’s great writing practice & I’m surprised how often I think of something that I’d like to share here. I’ve mostly kept to my weekly posting schedule & I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s especially great when someone leaves lovely comments on a post, it makes my day 🙂

I continued interviewing people for the Art Supply Posse podcast. I spoke to a wide range of artists throughout the year, learning a lot about what they do & bringing their story to our listeners. I’ve made friends with a couple of those people & it’s been great getting to know them better & watching their artistic progress.

2019 was also a year of short breaks – weekend trips to Melbourne & to Adelaide, with friends or on my own. I enjoyed the opportunity to move out of my daily routine & do something a little different. These moments were brief but impacted me positively, inspiring bouts of creativity & propelling me further into the year.

I took this with my iPhone, on a weekend trip to Melbourne with Paige. The light was stunning as we walked along St Kilda Pier. I couldn’t resist taking photos

I hope 2020 continues to bring creative inspiration, both for me & also for you.

Another pole fit photo taken during 2019

Accepting My Multi-creativity

This spot is pretty much my favourite local location to take photos, especially at sunset.

For the majority of my adult life I’ve struggled with the reality of my creative output. All around me are stories of people who specialise in something. From photographers that make their name from a genre they excel in, to water colourists whose exquisite work is world renown to writers whose books bring accolades from readers & critics alike, all I could see were people who found a particular type of art that compelled them to focus on it exclusively.

I am not that sort of person but boy have I tried to become one. As a child I fell in love with writing. I wanted to be an author & would write constantly. Not to long after that I discovered photography & felt compelled to photograph everything the caught my eye. For a while I thought perhaps I could be a photographic journalist, writing about important world changing things whilst also photographing them (given the awful trajectory journalism has taken I’m glad I didn’t pursue that avenue). I enjoyed drawing so in high school I took art elective classes with the thought they might help me find an artistic style I could be exclusively drawn to.

As I entered adulthood I became aware that to become ‘successful’ as an artist (a topic that I should bookmark for a future post) I needed to focus on one thing. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t. Taking photos only was enjoyable but didn’t sustain me. By this time shame about my desire to be a writer had taken hold in my mind so I had abandoned the idea to be an author (again something else I should return to in a future post). For a number of years I almost exclusively hand made teddy bears, with the vague idea of becoming a bear artist. Eventually I gave that up, which was around the time that I pretty much gave up on creativity. If I couldn’t narrow my focus to one thing then giving up on the creative life seemed the right way to live.

****

Fast forward a few years when a couple of traumatic events in my life found me returning to photography. I don’t remember my initial outlay but it was the most id ever spent on photography (until last week when I ordered a new camera!), buying a Fujifilm X-Pro1 & 18mm lens. As soon as I held the camera I knew outlaying the money was the best decision I’d made in a long time. I began photographing things that caught my eye, but this time with the purpose of growing my skills. I read & watched & listened to anything I felt would help me get better as a photographer.

I may have ordered a new X-Pro3 but my X-Pro1 will always have a place in my heart. It rekindled my love affair with photography so will become my spare camera body.

Yet this wasn’t enough to sustain me creativity. I needed other outlets. I began writing, first stream of conscious journalling then tentatively playing with the idea of writing children’s stories. 2019 saw me step that desire up a notch or two, engaging a mentor, having a private session with a well known children’s author & beginning to submit to publishers. As yet I’m still working on that goal, I hope one day I’ll be able to call myself a children’s author.

I also began drawing again, inspired by the artists I was interviewing for the Art Supply Posse podcast. I’ve enrolled in & completed a couple of online art courses to get better at drawing.

Yet despite all this, I felt like I should be narrowing my focus to one thing. I still thought that it would be the best thing for me to do. Yet deep down I knew I couldn’t do it, I’d never be happy focussing on one thing. Eventually I started to think that it’s ok to spread my creativity over a number of areas. I came across people who are successful in more than one field, such as Austin Kleon. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you who he is, but when I read his byline ‘a writer who draws’ I finally accepted that being a multi-creative is ok. That for some of us being multi-creative is the best expression of ourselves. Conforming to one creative outlet doesn’t work for us. And that’s ok.

Now that I’ve accepted my reality I feel a lot more comfortable working on my art. Sure, there are days when I hate everything I create -show me an artist who doesn’t feel that & I’ll call out their lies- but knowing that what I’m creating makes me happy is the most important thing to me. Theres no point making something if it doesn’t bring you some level of joy.

How do you feel about being a multi-creative? Does it align with your creative life or are you focussed on one type of art? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Following Those Who Chased The Steam

Early this past Sunday morning I stumbled out of bed at a time of day I rarely see & did my best to wake up. When my sister-in-law Ashton asked me to be her photographer for an inaugural charity event that saw runners on land race her family paddle steamer the PS Melbourne I was quick to agree. I like to help her whenever I can & I thought this would be a relatively easy way to help out. If I’d have known that I’d be setting an alarm for 6:30am I might well have reconsidered! Anyway as I ate my breakfast I hoped that the early start would be worth it.

***

Pulling my car in to find a park I felt a jolt of excitement when I saw lots of participants milling about the starting area. I was sure this would surely mean the event would be a success. Making my way onto the boat I kept an eye on the runners trying to determine how many of them were serious about arriving at the end point before we on the boat docked. To my untrained eye most of them looked keen to give it their best shot.

***

From the water I knew there wouldn’t be many points where I’d be able to see the runners once the event was underway. It occurred to me that the best place to photograph the runners & somehow tie that back to the boat itself would be when they crossed over the Murray Bridge. Making my way to the front of the boat (excuse my ignorance of the correct boat terms. I don’t claim to know anything about boats & don’t see the need to go looking for the right terms because this website is not about the boating life!) I looked for something that I could potentially frame the runners with. I took a photo with the backs of people who were relaxing on the boat but knew immediately that it wasn’t the right way to go about framing. As we got closer to the bridge I realised sections of wood on the boat would frame a photo in an interesting way. I crouched down & took a couple of photos. The one above worked out exactly how I hoped. The lines from the boat intersect nicely with the lines from the bridge. The woman running may only just be visible but I think that she provides enough impact. There are more photos from the morning that I’m happy with but none in the same way as I am with this one. To me it feels like a representation of what I’ve been trying to do with my photography this year. That is to capture the everyday beauty that surrounds me, if I look close enough for it. This particular photo – or any of the others that I make on this personal quest of mine – might not represent ‘typical’ beauty but I don’t give a damn about that. I’m trying to photograph beauty as I see it. Hopefully others will recognise that beauty too but it’s ok with me if they don’t.

***

The event was a success. There were some pretty serious & fast runners, who arrived at the finish line before the boat arrived. We arrived somewhere in the middle of the pack although it feels kinda weird viewing it that way considering we travelled on water! Prizes were given out, breakfast rolls & coffee were consumed & kids ran around enjoying the sun. The trip back to the wharf was a lively affair with many participants celebrating with an alcoholic beverage or two & several more dancing to the tunes pumped out by a live radio broadcast taking place onboard. I suspect the dollar value raised during the event was high enough that it will go ahead again next year. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to observe & photograph the goings on second time round.

Those Small Moments Of Beauty

Svenja looking through her makeup

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.

Irina talking about false eyelashes

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.

Vee applying makeup to Becky

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.

Backyard Sunsets & Zines

Sometime after my husband & I purchased a one acre block of land to build our new home on, I realised that the location affords beautiful views of the setting sun. These unexpected views have provided a source of photographic inspiration for me, especially on days when I have little time for anything other than taking a quick photo with my iPhone.

I thought I’d like to take advantage of these sunsets & set about working out how to predict when one would be particularly captivating. I found an iPhone app called GoldenHour & used it to forward plan sunset opportunities. I noted that if the cloud cover was not too heavy it would add an extra dimension, providing another place in the sky for colour to be reflected. If an evening storm was forecast the preceding clouds did something incredible to the sky, like in the above photo.

Slowly I learnt when to expect a sunset that required my attention & I began to group the photos into an album on my iPhone, allowing quick comparison of them but also allowing me to easily enjoy their beauty again. Flicking through this album I realised that I want to share these photos with others. I just wasn’t sure how to best share them.

After considering this for a while I decided that making a zine would be a great way to showcase these sunsets & share them with others. Each photo would be accompanied by the date it was taken & nothing more allowing the photos to convey their beauty.

I have never made a zine before. I’ve done some research, going down an infinite rabbit hole of possibilities only to stop myself mid way realising that this zine can be whatever I want it to be. I’m going to work on it during the coming weeks & will share my progress here, as well as the completed zine.

On the subject of zine’s I was excited to discover that a tea story I wrote was recently published in a new zine by Naomi Bulger on her website Naomi Loves

In the name of full disclosure I engaged Naomi as my mentor earlier this year. I feel it’s important that you know that although I doubt that is why my story was published. Perhaps talking about mentorship is something I should write about in another post.

It feels special to see my words printed in her zine & I wanted to share it with you. Without Naomi I wouldn’t be here blogging every week & updating this website. I hope you enjoy her Tea Stories zine. And make sure you check out the rest of her work. You’re bound to love it as much as I do.