People find their paths into Photography in many different ways.
For some it is by virtue as a camera as a present; others are enticed by one of their peers; some choose it as a career.
Many years ago (while I was at school) I was building Airfix model plane kits and I used to stick them to fishing wire that I had strung across my bedroom. If you were taller than say 6 feet/185cm, you had a problem…
I then thought how cool would it be to photograph them so I bought some blue cardboard, held it up in the background and fired off some shots with a Kodak Instamatic camera (110 negative) size to try to make it look like they were flying.
Throughout my youth I used to take photos (on a couple of different cameras) on the Kodak Instamatic, an old Box Brownie or a Polaroid Instant Film camera. The photography bug was ‘nibbling me’ though at that stage it had not ‘bitten’ me.
When I was 19 (1982), the Family moved to Leumeah (60km SW of Sydney, NSW, Australia), and not really knowing many people in the area my brother & I joined a Church Youth Social Club.
We had so much fun on the outings, picnics etc I decided it was time to buy a better camera, a Canon AF35M Autofocus compact camera, purely to record the fun times we were having.
The camera lens had a thread on the end and I enquired what that was for? Question answered but the salesman said you could do much more with an SLR. ‘A what’ was my response…?
That day in 1982 my world changed forever and for good! I started saving for my first SLR, an Olympus OM-10.
The real journey had begun…
Over the years, I have visited Joadja Creek, which is an old Shale mining town in the Southern Highlands of NSW Australia.
I had been down there 3 times before dating back to the 1980’s however I had not been there for some 12 years when I ventured down there in 2014.
Although some restorative work is taking place with some of the roofs, Joadja is largely how I remembered it, a place of history, an ornament to the Scottish part of our heritage and a wonderful place to let the mind relax.
In the past I had gone down there with just photography in mind however this time around was a bit different. This time I took my camera, my iPad and my pencils.
The camera to capture the place photographically, the iPad to capture it in words and pencils to do some sketching.
Included here are some of the images I took and I also have included a link to a previous post on this blog, where you will see a poem I wrote about Joadja when I was down there sitting amongst the ruins…
If you do find yourself on the area, drop in for a visit. It is a place that will capture both the historian and the artist in you.
Written by David Johnson
For further information about Joadja, click on the link below:
When you go out to photograph, what ‘state of mind’ are you in?
Do you go out with an idea in mind, or do you ‘free-wheel?’
Both approaches are valid, depending on what you want to achieve. I have to say that for many years I would either pick a subject e.g. I might choose to photograph a Sunrise but have no real goal of what I wanted to capture, and so I would come home with anything, or sometimes I would just set off with my camera and ‘follow the light’ and see where it would take me.
Both of the above approaches produced some excellent images, some average images and of course many ‘learning experiences.’
One day at a meeting of a ‘Photo Group’ I was involved with, we were viewing a of my images when one of the members, Chris Donaldson asked me ‘what I was trying to communicate with the image?’ My answer was that “I wasn’t trying to communicate anything” I just merely took the image for fun.
As Chris mentioned, whether or not I was intentionally trying to communicate anything, didn’t matter as I was still communicating. That day, I changed the way I viewed photography. Up to that point (even though subconsciously I knew I was communicating) I wasn’t photographing for that reason. I was just photographing because I had fun.
I still have fun to this day, but since that conversation I have approached photography in a different way, in a more thoughtful way.
Next time you go out to photograph, think about why you are going and what you want to communicate?
Written by David Johnson
One of the things that happened when I first started using a camera to explore the world was that I started to become more aware of what was around me. Initially, this was only on a conscious level. Gradually, over time I trained my eye to seek out things that which others would walk straight by. This now happens on a subconscious level.
Coupled with this is my sense of humour, so that when I was walking along a pier and saw these boots, awareness & humour combined to form a memorable image for me.
This is one of the wonderful things in life. We each have our own personal vision of the world. Our personal vision is shaped by our environment, our beliefs and influences.
In picking up a camera, a paintbrush, a pencil, clay or other artistic media we can express, through our imagination that which others cannot, i.e. our personal view of this world.
Awareness, personal vision and imagination. Three important tools to communicate your message.
“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on Earth filled with glory.”
Betty Smith – A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Take the time to walk around your local area.
Photographing in the early morning or late afternoon can often reveal very interesting things. There are shapes, textures, lines and forms that reveal themselves to you if you remain aware…
Objects that we humans pass by every day not giving them a second glance, hold beauty, hold interest and stories. Human stories.
The shapes and forms are often made by humans to serve a purpose, a function and they do this effectively. I have attached one such image that I discovered.
By isolating it from its greater surroundings, but including those in close proximity an art form is created. This is a handrail at McDonalds in Camden NSW. Often used. Seldom appreciated.
If you haven’t done it lately, take a walk with a camera through your local area. I have no doubt that you’ll be surprised at what you find!
I was leafing through an old photography book and I came across the above quote by Ernst Haas. He was (and remains) a great influence on me.
There are quite literally millions of things to photograph and no photographer could rightly claim to have photographed everything there is, however we do not need to.
I often hear the comment, ‘there is nothing to photograph…” An amazing statement really… As I look out the window (in suburbia currently), I see many subjects and many ideas come to mind of what/how I could photograph them.
The problem isn’t the lack of subject matter. The problem is that we wander around blissfully unaware of our surroundings and we also get caught up in the world, rushing here rushing there.
STOP! Just for one moment wherever you are reading this! Look around.
Do you see a tree? Yes. Look at it as if it is not a tree, but an idea generator, branches as conduit bringing forth ideas (leaves) and photograph it accordingly…
Do you see a fence? Yes. Look at it as if it is not a fence, but a palette. A palette that has light dancing over it creating form and texture, lines and shapes.
Are you a glamour/nude photographer? View the body, not as a body but as a sculpture; view it as part of the landscape and photograph it accordingly…
Are you a flower photographer? View the flower, not as a flower but as a person with a personality…
It is not lack of subject matter, it’s a lack of ideas.
The continued challenge as a photographer is that we need to reinvent and apply new ideas to the subject matter or as Ernst Haas eloquently puts it…
“I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.”
For more information on Ernst Haas