Photography has been a passion of mine since I bought my first camera on a school trip to Scandanavia in 1961. For a time, I hoped to make a career out of it and worked in a commercial studio in Sydney for 3.5 years before heading overseas to the USA and Europe. But dreams don’t always come true and photography remains just a hobby for me.
What photography means to me.
Photography is a language and like any conventional language it can be used, among other things, to: convey information; pose questions; express opinions; create a mood; amuse; excite; incite; shock; provoke; sadden; gladden; illuminate; awaken and cause us to reflect. The still photograph forces us to look at things we otherwise might have dismissed with a mere glance. Like people using conventional language, photographs can shout, whisper, talk animatedly or talk monotonously. Some are garrulous; some are taciturn. Some are lyrical; others, incisive. Some are frivolous; others are profound. Some, you wonder why they were born; others will live with you forever. Like conventional language, photography has many dialects, not all of which are mutually intelligible. The macro photography of insects talks a different dialect to the sweeping panoramas of landscapes; the calm image of a beautiful flower speaks a different dialect to the powerful capture of a moment in sport; a gritty scene from urban life speaks a different dialect to an abstract image which uses colours and lines to convey its message. What makes perfect sense to the photographer may be incomprehensible to the viewer. This, in itself, does not make it a bad photograph – any more than a language that is only understood by a small number of speakers can be judged inadequate as a language for the purposes of communicating between those speakers.
Photographs speak on multiple levels. The image speaks for itself, telling its own story. But it also speaks about the photographer, suggesting answers to the questions: why was it taken and why was it exhibited. And the ensemble of photographs found on any individual’s Photostream adds another dimension to the narrative, betraying the photographer’s predilections and passions. Some photographers confine themselves to a single subject whilst others explore a variety. And all these stories that we can deduce from viewing the photographs of strangers are merely conjecture anyway, although being conjecture makes them no less beguiling.