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.

Unexpected Friendships

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.

Through The Eyes Of A Traveller

The photos shown is of gardens located in Suzhou China

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.

Exploring Double Exposures

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.

Art For Breakfast

For the past couple of months I have been making art every morning as I eat breakfast. I began simply because breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. When I’m travelling I always take the time to relax & eat a yummy breakfast whilst either sketching, people watching or both. I decided to implement this practice at home so I could always take the time to enjoy my first meal of the day. And to linger over a cup of coffee too 🙂

I’ve deliberately left the door wide open in terms of what art I will make. Often I’ll wake up with no idea what to create but whilst I’m walking the dogs (which is done pre-breakfast) an idea usually will form. If it doesn’t then I’m not above creating random colourful shapes on the page.

Initially I was making art that meant nothing to me; I realise now however that it has come to mean a lot. It’s helping ease my anxiety around being a creative person. I’m more accepting that that is the sort of person I am. We can’t all be mathematicians or neurosurgeons or other high functioning sorts. It’s ok that I’m creative.

Someone please remind me of this statement when I’m an anxious mess because I’m offering nothing to the world because all I can do is create 😉

Uncomfortable With An iPhone

Boats moored at St. Kilda marina

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.

The repeated lines from the masts of boats are pleasing to my eye

On The Street

I have been thinking about photographing dogs. Thinking about different ways to show them in print. Would portraits be best? Or photos of them interacting with their owners, or candid photos of them in their surroundings? I’m not sure yet of which way I’d like take this project although I know it will require lots of trial & error.

A week ago I had the opportunity to try street photography. I enjoyed walking with my camera, talking with a friend & trying to capture what was seeing.

It comes as no surprise to me that I found myself wanting to take photos of dogs in the streets. I love that they get to go out & about with their owners. To me it says a lot about how important dogs are to people. Although if I come across someone walking a cat, rabbit, guinea pig or any other animal & I have my camera in hand then I won’t be able to resist taking a photo of that either! Our relationship with our pets is important. And I certainly won’t judge you if your pet isn’t a dog 🙂

Beauty In The Everyday

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.

Not Quite Right

First attempt at double exposure using my Fujifilm X-Pro1

I spent some time trying to discover the best way to visualise my experience of living with anxiety. After looking at different styles of photography and painting I settled on double exposure photography.

Being completely new to the genre I decided to dip my toe in the water through the use of an app for my iPhone. I quickly realised what worked well for my particular style of image making and began making images that I am happy with. This past week I made my first attempt to create double exposures using my Fujifilm camera. The somewhat dire feeling of the landscape I had set out to photograph suited the feeling I am looking to represent.

Yet I don’t think I’ll ever be able to capture just what it is like to experience a panic attack through a single photograph. There is too much going on in my mind when I am overcome by a panic attack. Racing thoughts that cannot be contained, anger quickly turning into destructive thoughts, sheer panic that cannot be contained. Or even when my mind starts racing towards anxiety, but is able to be reclaimed by the remaining non anxious part of my mind. It takes so much mental willpower to control my mind from becoming panicked I am often spent afterwards.

I think the only way I can really express all of this is through words. Perhaps what is needed is a body of work, images interspersed with words, attempting to show just what it feels like. It’s possible that this project won’t work. It’s possible onlookers – especially those who have never experienced mental illness themselves – will never truely understand what it’s like to live with anxiety. Maybe, just maybe however someone will see my work, who themselves has anxiety, and will feel comforted in knowing that someone else feels like they do. If nothing else that’s all that I can hope for. To help someone in some small way.