This is a blog around my learning to see as a photographer. I have begun to see my photographic work as being about the spirit of place and people of presence. This understanding has emerged from reflecting upon my creative work since I took a break two years ago from my practice as a psychotherapist and educator. As a result I now consider myself ‘retired’ from that long professional chapter of my life and so will continue focusing upon place and presence.
This blog, (always) learning to see, has been a great stimulus to thinking about my own photographic work and the work of others. The discipline of regular posting and following other blogs, provides a way of studying photography conceptually and aesthetically as well as thinking through technical issues. It also points me to books, exhibitions and other learning opportunities.
It seems something of a paradox that certain places seem to speak to you and touch you in a powerful way. I am not sure how much it is that suddenly you find yourself able to listen to the spirit of a place or that the place has its own way of insisting on you listening to it.
Antarctica is the recent example. As I wrote at the time: ‘Wild, timeless nature whose openness contains and stills. A place that reached in and grabbed my heart so that I suddenly saw my heart in its hand and prayed it would not crush it, not too much anyway. And then relief in the realization that this place is not at all concerned with me…. It feels so good not mattering in that way.’
Another of life’s pleasures is the sense of real meetings with delightful and substantial people of all walks of life. Travel’s best moments are often these encounters, however brief. In photographing people I want to show the person beyond an orientalizing portrayal of their costume, role, life stage or cultural background. This is what I mean by presence.
The book Bhutan Heartland, (Fremantle Press, October 2010) produced together with Libby Lloyd (my wife, travel companion and writer), I hope exemplifies this interest in spirit and presence as it combines images of particular Bhutanese people and places with elements of their stories.
I think different places and people produce unique responses and so the form of the work needs to be specific to the context. This will mean that sometimes my future work might take the form of a book, sometimes an exhibition and sometimes a multimedia work or even some other form.