Sunday, July 14, 2013

A short story and a long tale…...



Short story.
These two images were made in July 1975.  
The images were made with a kodak 126 format instamatic camera - nothing special, but able to record history.  The shots were made within a minute of each other, the person with the camera changing position by a metre or so and changing direction slightly.

The young kid in the yellow jumper turned ten years old that week, or the next. His name is David.
The young girl in gray with her hand on the dog was maybe three years older. Her name is Sharon.
You can see the back of David's head at the bottom of that frame too.

That was July 1975.

Today, July 14th,  they celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary.  Congratulations to them. Last time I saw them they seemed to be still head over heels in love with each other. 

Long tale.
Take another look.  

The boy next to David was sixteen years old.
The girl in yellow next to Sharon turned seventeen years old that month.

They too were already friends, having met two years earlier and over the next eight months they cemented what they both were later to call the best friendship of their lives.  Unbeknownst to most of their friends, family and associates, the months of December '75 to February '76 saw them build a closeness that would not have been guessed at. It was suspected at by a few but was oblivious to most.

However. There is always a however.

However - youthful misunderstandings, external influences, other young potentials, missed signals, words unsaid that should have been said, words said that ought not have been said - these things and more conspired to prevent the happy ending that came to the young David and Sharon.

Life saw them take different paths. They both saw the highs of life - each had three kids with all the joys that come with that. Each had good friends, reasonable health, a full life with a variety of interests.
They also saw the lows of life - unhappy marriages with all the pain that comes with that. Divorce, loneliness, the occasional onset of sadness.

What they never did was to forget each other even though they had lost touch.   It turns out that they were sometimes just a few hours from each other and never knew.  There was a particular instance when they were in the same room a few mere minutes apart - yet never knew until more than thirty years later.

They saw each other briefly in August 1980 at the funeral of his sister.  The girl in yellow had a baby by then. The boy lived on the other side of the country. They were happy to see each other, but nervous too.  There were certain feelings and words unsaid. Status had changed.  A married woman with a child. A young single man.  Nothing could ever be the way it was. Friendships alter.

Or do they?

For over thirty years there was no contact. No knowledge. There were those who could have connected them, but for some reason chose not to.  

But they never forgot. Every now and then they would cross each other's mind. Every now and then they tried to find out about the other. For all they each knew, the other could have been dead for years.

A little over three years ago, after years of wondering and searching, he found her.  He heard her story. She heard his. His marriage had ended many years before and hers was in serious trouble.  Not all saw it that way, but there are none so blind as those who will not see, as they say.

Amid no small amount of condemnation, vilification, abuse and judgement (some deserved, some not so) they fell naturally into the friendship that they once enjoyed. This time however, the friendship became something else.  

How does the long tale end? 

The future is not yet written but they plan to get married later this year. 
It's thirty five years or so later than they would have liked it to be, but for the first time in three decades both of them are truly happy.

Stay safe.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Josh and the Jewfish


It was a beautiful day today so I again found myself near the shore, exploring possibilities for images at Flat Rock Beach just north of Ballina.

The light was fairly harsh and I hadn't done much so decided to head off.

As I was about to walk back along the beach toward the car park I noticed two men coming out of the water. They had obviously been snorkeling and spearfishing. I walked over and made conversation with them.

It seemed to be another chance to ask a total stranger if I could make a quick portrait shot.

This is Josh. The fish is called a Jewfish (or argyrosomus japonicus for those Latin speakers among you). He reckoned it weighed around 7kg or just over 15lb.

I reckoned it would look good on a plate.

Although I made a couple of images showing both Josh and the fish at full length, I prefer this one. If it was a shot for a magazine, I'd show the complete fish. As it is, the image is more a portrait of Josh, doing what he obviously loves.

No need to show the whole fish - anyone can tell it's a biggie.

Stay safe

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mission in Action - John


I was doing some early evening photography down by the waterside recently when I got into conversation with a passing gent.

John stopped and had a chat about all manner of things - photography,  the sunset, the history of the town from which he came.

He also told me how he helps sponsor an orphanage in Kenya.  It's place called 'Mission in Action' at Nakuru.

It was clear that John was passionate about the place. He and his wife travel there on a regular basis.

He spoke of how hard it for those at the orphanage, the struggles they face, the need for assistance, the apparent hopelessness of the situation. How even travelling there is fraught with danger. How sometimes the young kids of that region need to walk for miles to obtain the basic needs of the day, and that some are attacked, some killed, some raped.

There was a certain sadness was in his eye.  He was looking at the sunset, but it was as though he was looking elsewhere, and seeing something else.

I wish you well with all your endeavours, John.

Stay safe.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Faces on Fernleigh

Continuing with the 'fifty strangers' idea....

This morning the weather was glorious in this part of the Northern Rivers region, so a fast drive along a winding country road seemed to be the best way to spend part of the day.

As such I found myself in the locale of Fernleigh. As usual there was a camera and a couple of lenses with me.

The music was loud and I was enjoying the drive.  Actually I was contemplating stopping and photographing the road with its overhanging trees. At places it was like driving through a tunnel.

That idea was put on hold when I saw a vehicle and trailer parked adjacent to a field.  The thing that caught my eye was the the word "Farrier" painted across the back. Two men and a horse were at the fence.

I stopped and introduced myself.  One was a retired farrier who had likewise stopped to have a chat. He soon left on his motorbike. The other gent was Tim who was just about to finish his work and head off to another job.

Graciously he gave me a couple of minutes so that I could make a quick portrait.

I acknowleded his kindness in sparing a few minutes then continued down the road.

Not far along I saw a man mowing a field on his tractor.

I stopped again and he drove close to the fence, stopped and came over to say hi.

Neil was mowing the field for his eighty four year old mother.  She and his father used to grow macadamia nuts, but since the old man died, she doesn't grow crops anymore - just stays in the old place they shared for decades.
Neil himself lives in Mackay over a thousand kilometres to the north. He reckoned it was cold here today - I guess it's all relative.
Anyway, he comes down regularly and helps care for the place, although he says his mother still drives the old tractor.

I'm glad I met both these gents and heard a little of their stories. It makes this kind of work all the more interesting.  The image of the road with the overhanging trees will have to wait until another time. Then again, if there are more interesting people doing what they do......

Stay safe

Thursday, April 11, 2013



Last Sunday we took a drive in the Byron Bay hinterland and found ourselves at the Minyon Falls in the Nightcap National Park.

The scenery is spectaular.

As we were enjoying the views I noticed a young lady playing what appeared to be an oriental style bamboo flute.  The music was quite ethereal.

Given that I had recently set myself the task of  photographing  fifty strangers , I asked her if it was ok to make a photograph together.

She agreed, played a few more notes as I made the image, then after saying "thanks" she was off into the forest.

The last we saw of her was at some distance standing in the middle of the river just above the falls playing her music.

All in all it was a strange encounter.

If you find yourself in the forest near the Minyon Falls and you hear a strange music on the wind, keep an eye out for Indigo.

She may still be around.

Stay safe.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Red woman, Bluesfest


At the Byron Bay Bluesfest, early evening.

Rain, raincoat, red light.


- stay safe.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fifty Strangers

 It's been quite a while since I posted anything here. The past two years have seen a fair upheaval in my life. I said farewell to Melbourne after over three decades and now reside in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales - a thousand miles to the north. Now it's time to get off the rear end and concentrate once more on photography.

Zack Arias used a term for this. He called it a GOYA project.
What that meant was "Get Off Your A.."
You get the idea. Get up and do what you have to do. Stop making excuses, stop wasting time, stop procrastinating.

So I've set myself a project to get the juices flowing again. The idea is to shoot fifty strangers. That is, approach fifty total strangers and get their permission to make a portrait of them, there and then, where and when I find them. Ideally the image should reveal a piece of who they are.

 Sounds easy - or does it? Walk up to fifty people you've never met, introduce oneself, engage in conversation and get permission to make the image. Actually it's not quite as easy as it sounds, even for someone of a gregarious nature.

This is a different approach form the way street photographers operate. Street photography is generally of a more candid nature, looking for the unscripted, 'decisive moment'.

So last week I found myself in Byron Bay with one camera, two prime lenses (35mm and 85mm) looking for the first of the fifty strangers that I hope to photograph. I would have been happy to shoot just two, but ended up with four people who agreed to be photographed. Bless 'em. I'm not sure how long it will take me to complete this self assignment nor even what the outcome will be. I guess the answer to that will become evident along the way.

That's what he said his name was. P R as in Pirate Rick. Or as he said it - P RRRRRRR
He was playing the ukulele and singing. He had an infectious laugh and a great outlook. He said "Don't send a copy, I don't use email.  Give someone a hug instead!"
You can't argue with that sort of sentiment.

Vincent was sitting in a doorway making ashtrays from discarded drink cans.  They actually looked OK. People would come along and give a donation for them.  He was from France. He didn't say so, but I got the feeling that this was helping to pay for his visit.

As I was walking down the street I noticed the casual way in which he was sitting at an outdoor cafe.  I'm not sure I've seen anyone sitting in such an easy way at an eatery.  When I asked him if I could make the image he said "I'm here, man. Go for it."  Big smile, good nature.  There should be more like him.

Stacy was sitting near Cameron and observed what we were doing.  When asked, she also readily agreed.
Here Stacy is feeding Tyler, her son.  She told a remarkable story. Tyler is her first child.  Now in her mid-forties, Stacy has been trying for a child since her late twenties and after years of IVF is the proud and very loving mother of a beautiful boy.
May she have many years of great blessings.

So there it is.  Four requests made.  Four requests granted.

I dare say there will be a few refusals coming my way, but I've made a start and I quite enjoyed the experience.  I'm looking forward to the rest of this particular journey.

My thanks to PR, Vincent, Cameron and Stacy.

Stay safe