Manchuria

Last night, I spent some time at the Geelong Camera Club. We watched two documentaries about photographers, Bill Henson and Albert Watson. Both portrait photographers with wildly different styles. Henson, of course, is known for his photographs that reminisce great baroque paintings. the grainy texture, the desaturation of the skin, and the way he seems to pull the light forward from the dark will often make his work look more like a painting than a photograph.

Watson, on the other hand, found his fame photographing the portraits of famous models and actors. Each portrait captures a different story and showcases a personality through lighting, colour, composition and the use of props. I couldn't help but marvel at the diversity in not only his style but also his use of lighting.

I left feeling oddly inspired about the art of photo taking. It's so diverse! You can use it in a documentary style, to capture a quick passing moment that shows a type of reality, or you can specifically craft a photograph out of nothing except for the image in your head.

I think I've forgotten a lot about how much joy the latter brings me. After shooting for six years, I've found that my hunger for creativity and ability to harness inspiration passes me by faster than the days of the month. Everything comes and goes so quickly that I often don't get time to react. 

Upon reflection, I think that a lot of my work encompasses a more documentary style. I like being a fly on the wall, observing and capturing moments as they play out without interference. 

It's rare that I'll cut in and interfere with how an image plays out. Sometimes when I'm reviewing photos, I find myself wishing that I asked someone step a little more to the left, or maybe look away from the lens. I'm always conflicted between capturing the perfect shot and enjoying the process of documenting life - which definitely isn't always perfect.

But sometimes, I see images in my mind. Things that are imaginary until I choose to bring them forward into my reality. This style of shooting is one that I enjoy immensely. It's articulate and specific. Everything is deliberate and done with purpose. It's also hard. It's difficult to keep the inspiration going, to act on the idea before it leaves you;. It's challenging because sometimes I'm not in the right place to bring a series of photographs forward, not in the right location, can't commit to my vision financially or lack time to complete the images. 

Sometimes, however, everything falls into alignment and you're able to bring forth an idea you've been sitting on for a while - which is what happened with these images. The idea, the team, the images all came together at the right time. In fact, it was so easy. The hardest part has been finding the motivation to publish the images.

I've sat on these photos for a while. Sometimes it's refreshing to re-visit images several months after completing them as your perspective and skills change. I'm finding the way that I play with colour to be changing constantly at the moment, and I gave these images several retouches since I shot them last October. 

I think the other reason I've been hiding these from you is because a lot of the time I struggle with my niche. I don't like limiting myself in any way, including my work - which is so stereotypically Saggitarius of me, it's hilarious. These photos are so very dark compared to the bulk of my previous work and reflect a time of immense inspiration and motivation. In part, they're influenced greatly by my friend, Jack, who mostly art directed this and whose vision is greater than mine will probably ever be. For these reasons, I have felt as though sharing these contrasting images wouldn't be well received. 

But I love them nonetheless, and I feel like it's time that they come off my hard drive and into the online world to be viewed by fresh eyes. 

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. 

Photography: Carolyn West

Talent: Cornelia Riley 

Art Direction: Jack Brown

Assistant: Daniel Tegmark