Over the past few weeks I’ve been reshaping my understanding of photography through an online course. Steve Parish’s Masterclass in Photography is almost at an end. What I’m learning gives a greater sense of purpose and provides a way forward with a hobby I’ve loved since childhood.
My first shots
From the day I was given my mother’s Brownie camera on a picnic and my brother and I ran off, eagerly snapping away at swans and ducks on the nearby lake, I’ve been fascinated with the world I see and shape through a lens. I was around ten years old. Sadly, on that first day, not one photo turned out.We didn’t know we had to wind the film on!
Long after that time, I purchased a 110 film Instamatic camera and took numerous snaps. I wound the film on. I filled numerous photo albums with prints.
Several years later, when the local chemist, where I took my films for processing, suggested I would benefit from a 35 mm camera I had no idea what she was talking about. I was probably a student, in my late teens. When I began work and had the income, I explored options and bought my first SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera and snapped numerous photos, filled many more albums and spent innumerable dollars on prints of photos from trips and travels and later, of family. I still have a box filled with negatives and a bookcase of photo albums, some scrap book-style and many of those dreadful ones with sticky pages that fade the photos. (A different project in progress – scan and where possible, remove the photos and place them into albums with slip in pockets.)
My creative passion
Family-focused photography was my creative passion for many years. I still adore capturing my children, and now my grandchildren as well, on special occasions – birthdays and Christmases, especially.
For several years we had what became ‘the present-opening ceremony’. At Christmas time, my father donned a red and white Christmas hat and took on the role of Father Christmas, giving out presents to each of us in turn. A helper sat to one side and carefully chose a present so that each child was kept busy opening a gift. But they had to take their time, and I had to be quick with the camera – snapping each happy, eager recipient as he or she opened their gift and then ceremoniously and proudly held it up for the photo. This tradition lasted well into adulthood and even now, as grandchildren grow older, they will sometimes wait for the photo to be taken!
What was so important about that moment?
… is the sort of question the course asks me to consider. This long term project was and is about capturing memories; about the delight on a child’s face; the twinkle in their eyes. It became a record of growth – of the children, parents and grandparents as they grew older; of the number of children in the wider family; and simply, of family togetherness.
My current focus
As well as capturing joy in others in my photos of family events, I also enjoy taking photos of the natural environment – landscapes, skyscapes, trees and flowers – both native and cultivated.
On a recent road trip to the central wheat-belt, I discovered winter rains had brought the countryside to life. Rich green paddocks stretched to the horizon, sometimes broken by swathes of golden yellow canola.
After arriving at my mother’s, I took numerous photos of her cottage garden. The sheer delight on her face as she saw her garden through my eyes – my photos – proved to me that my renewed passion and goal – to bring joy to others in the images I take – is both worthwhile and achievable.
Further information about the course I’m studying is available here: Steve Parish: Masterclass in Photography