Late last year in an interesting turn of events coupled with a passion for capturing images of people I published a booked titled 'DUST' through Fremantle Press, I spent two weeks living and photographing workers at DeGrey Station in the Pilbara. It was published nationally and all of a sudden I was doing radio interviews and being featured in the paper, though it was short-lived. I'm not that used to been overly public and my camera is usually my shield to the world. The other side of being a published author (an idea that still feels surreal to me) is presenting at schools, events, and literally festivals. My first such experience was at Mazenod College. A little half-day presentation to high school students. I had no idea what to expect and ended up running over time and getting some advice from a teacher on on my presentation, she said "Maybe make it a little less about yourself" hahaha I died inside but she was right. Her comments got me thinking in a different way. My thinking switched from "I hope they like my presentation?" to "What do I want them to walk away thinking/feeling?". I've always been okay at public speaking but this tiny shift made life a little easier in front of a large crowd. I had direction in what I wanted to say.
Skip forward a few months and Big Sky was on the horizon. I had been sending emails back and forth with the Geraldton Libary for awhile but as it always is with these things, it snuck up on me. It didn't hit until I walked off the short one hour flight to Geraldton, my bags were taken from me and was introduced to some of the other authors. I was the rookie here.
A group of us flew over to spend a night at the Abrolhos Islands, I actually didn't know Geraldton had offshore islands and it was a great surprise. On the flight from Geraldton to the Abrohlos, I eagerly captured what caught my eye. Intricate farmlands on the way out of Geraldton and then the beautiful expanse of the ocean dotted with islands and reefs. We landed on an island named 'Big Rat'. It felt like a slowly vanishing ghost town that hints at a rich fishing culture. Some parts had patches of life and human activity and others felt like someone was erasing little pieces at a time. Half a house here, a toilet standing by itself or a Hills Hoist Clothesline laying bent and broken, perhaps a victim of the vicious winds that pass through.
At lunch on the Abrolhos all the authors, volunteers and Big Sky staff chatted over sandwiches and coffee. I warned them of my never ending photo taking and that with few people on the island, they will most likely be what I photograph. The authors on the island with me were Poet/Musician Kevin Gillam, Artist Kyle Huges-Odgers and writers Rod Jones, Grantlee Kieza, Susan Midalia and Rosemary Sayer.
Big Sky itself was a massive personal challenge. Working and talking alongside talented and dedicated artists who have been refining their crafts for years was daunting. Who am I? Just a guy who picked up a camera a few years ago. I remember being in a panel discussion about "Capturing Fleeting Moments" and all my personal philosophy about "What do I want the audience to walk away with?" vanished. I was out drowning off the Abrolhos somewhere, water filling where my words should be and panic filling my mind. I looked at my co -presenters Steve Bisley (Mad Max, Water Rats) and Susan Midalia (Studied at Cambridge) and I thought to myself ........ "s**t what on earth am I saying". After making what I thought was the mistake of a lifetime I settled into the discussion and had a great time. Defs a lesson in there somewhere and for me its "If your answer is simple...keep it simple" and something about the benefits of failure.
I could really write on about the experience but my words won't do it justice. Have a vibe through my images and having a little look through my eyes.
Thanks for taking the time to read all this. I'm trying to find more meaning in my images and I think writing helps add another layer to the story (Also inspired by the writers I met), as does music. I listened to an artist named Fever Kin while on this trip and wrote this blog to his latest release. Amazing and emotive music from an awesome clash of classic and modern production. A must listen https://soundcloud.com/feverkin