In the early 90s, like a lot of my slacker generation, I took off my suit and tie and decided it was time to take my delayed “gap year” reward for keeping my head down, doing everything everyone had ever wanted of me, and being the “responsible one” amongst my group of friends.
I had a bumpy ride through my university degree but I’d got through it, and after 5 years racing up the corporate ladder in the public service, I wanted to see what was beyond the white walls of my office.
Along with the best backpack money could buy, and a long series of shots for diseases I thought had died out in the middle ages, I went to a shop to get my first camera. I don’t remember ever owning one before that. In fact, I don’t remember any of my friends owning one either. My Mother had a tiny one that looked a bit like a spy camera, a gift from my Dad when he had a conference in Hawaii and incredibly cool and state-of-the-art at the time, and she must have used it when we had celebrations, but I don’t remember that either.
I lucked out, because I went to a camera specialist rather than a department store and the owner, who must have sensed that I was a total noob, steered me well. “This one is a bit cheaper”, I remember him saying, “but this is the one I’d like you to walk out with”.
And I did. I can’t remember what brand it was, but it was compact, with a small zoom Carl Zeiss lens and it was solid and sturdy and I think ran fully automatic.
It was my constant companion for two years as I slummed around Asia. If I was in a place for more than a couple of days I’d drop all my spent film in and look forward to getting back the 6x4s, usually in a little book of plastic sleeves with covers that changed from town to town. Sometimes they’d come back gloss, sometimes matt, sometimes with rounded corners and sometimes with a white border around them. I’d keep them with me for a few weeks and then I’d find a post office somewhere and post them home, addressed to myself. When I finally did get back there was a whole shipping carton of unopened post-packs waiting for me, with a visual story sorted by postmarks, documenting my growth from who I was to who I’d become.
Traveling taught me to see things, but it was the Multimedia Design Diploma I enrolled in when I got back that taught me that I could harness the power of the tools and use it to extend my vision.
It was an exciting time to be in multimedia. For years it had meant kiosk design, but I’d arrived just on the cusp of the internet. The web was still ruled by Netscape’s grey pages with plain text and the occassional blinking gif, but everyone was seeing the potential.
The lecturers were young industry professionals, and the course was designed with rich, broad brushstrokes. Every semester included units on different periods of art history and design history. There was video, editing, studio management and broadcast audio. There were hands-on classes for drawing and design techniques, which at that time included scalpels and bromide cameras (though Macs were really starting to show their power, and the one I had at home was probably the most expensive bit of furnishing in the house).
And, luckily for me, the diploma included three years of photography, taught by a young, talented and very inspirational photographer who always looked like he’d dropped into the job by accident and wasn’t quite sure why he was there, except that he loved photography and he loved his job. We had two studios and two darkrooms at our disposal, along with an equipment library that was so keen to get their equipment out into the open that they almost pushed it on you as you walked past their counter in the basement.
So, I learned about apertures and shutterspeed and ISO and lighting. And, more importantly, about why the things that I see look like they do. Depth of field and repetition and rhythm and the way empty spaces can be just as important as full ones.
I never did become a professional photographer. I did OK in my classes, but it was never my intention to do it for a living. It’s a calling, and I admire people who dedicate their life to it (you’ll find a bunch of my favorites on MY BLOG and in my VISUALIZEUS BOOKMARKS), but I was always going to be just a hobbyist.
I’m shooting mostly on a Nikon D90, although there might also be shots from my D70, Canon PowerShot S5IS or iPhone on here. I have a Polaroid Spirit 600 but no film to load into it, and an assortment of Holga, Lomo and Blackbird analog cameras, but I’m not using them much at the moment so if they show up I’ll probably make a big woohoo about it. Mostly I’m digital right now and I don’t feel nostalgic about it, although I do miss the Polariod.
I have a Nikkor 18-200mm lens that seldom leaves my camera. Occasionally I swap it for a macro 60mm or a prime 50mm.
I use Photoshop CS5 and all my pics go through Noise Ninja. I seldom crop or filter (though I’ve been enjoying the filter apps that make iPhone photography so much fun). I try to do everything in-camera. I’m a bit old-school that way.
Back in the day, when I was studying, I used to do all these extravagant mis en scene setups, trying to cram an entire novel into a photo. It wasn’t terrible, but I look back now and I cringe a little.
I still occasionally do some studio work, but my real pleasure these days is street photography. I like to throw my camera in my bag, get out and capture the things that speak to me.
I do have a few subjects that I’ve been exploring over a long period of time. Street art, juxtaposition, unintentional humor, decay and the history spoken by objects are some of my favorites.
If you read all the way to here then wow, I admire your stamina! Thanks for dropping by, and thanks for being interested enough to read. Being on the internet is a bit like being in a vacuum in outer-space, so if you took the time to comment on one of the pics then you’d make my day (and I’d know you were here)!
I also have a blog where I talk about creativity, art, design and an eclectic bunch of other stuff, and show off the work being done by my agency Electrotype HERE.
Thanks again for dropping by. Hope you like the pics.
If you have any questions or want to chat about anything, drop me SOME EMAIL. I’ll try my best to help.