Along the Way: Sheree Kershaw Photography

Illumination

The moment the light turned on inside my artistic mind was when I stopped listening to the overwhelming visual traffic which flooded my world every day, and I began to think about own self-respect as an artist.

Two years ago, as a newly hatched photographer, I was struggling to get traction with clients and to forge my own identity. I wasn't feeling too jazzed about this new career I had invested my heart and soul into and I was having an existential style crisis. I am sure we have all been there? I had my wheels spinning, spending my days critiquing my work, questioning: Where do I fit in?  Will people get my style? What category does my work even fall into? Will people feel what I see? Will my peers in the photography community get it? (does that really matter?) Will clients get it? do I get it? Aaarrrgh! 

I felt like I had no place to go but backwards. 

So I quit this photography gig. Actually I quit many times -  I put my camera down, swore never to take photos again. But it never lasted long.

 We were based in Melbourne, Australia at the time, and my husband suggested we take a trip home to the motherland. So during one of the coldest winters, we came back to New Zealand with no real plan other than to visit our family and friends and see where our journey took us.

And where did our journey take us? Back to reality I guess. My illumination moment happened on a cold, damp and overcast day. The light was low but the setting was, typically New Zealand and stunning. Very close to home, with my sister and her son we visited a local arboretum and as the boys played I found myself drawn into their moments. The emerald green grass, bare trees, dirt and three little boys, pale with pink noses, wet up to their knees soaking up the first quality cousin time they had had for a year. I started seeing their moments, flashes of joy framed through the scenery and set off by the muted light and I started documenting it.

There was something that happened to me while I was here, the intensity of it all was truly confrontational and the complexity of it messed with my head.

I dug deep and kept on snapping. You see, those moments on that day were the perfect embodiment of my style, raw, dark, moodily cheerful and above all real. Because they were my moments I could suddenly see what my clients could see. I realised that I had been too busy trying to be somebody else, please my peers, the established norm, stay current etc. What I needed to do, was to embrace ME, because I am ME and I am nothing if not real. Real joy, real emotions & real moments happen every day, in the rain or the sun and my job is to capture beautiful authentic examples of these moments for my clients. 

 You see, when you capture one of these epic, real moments your heart reaches into that image and feels at home because everything that makes up your subject is there, as bold as brass in a little glass box. The clients instantly fall in love because they know that they now have all their feelings captured forever and can invoke them till their dying days with a simple view. When you capture children at play this is particularly true because the parents own ego, self-image issues & preconceptions are irrelevant - they simply see their perfect children, as they see them every day.  

 The disconnect with what I had been doing or thought I should be doing was that none of it took this idea far enough. We are on a spectrum, with rigid posed portraiture way back behind us and the future ahead. I think the future is reality and I suddenly realised I might be further ahead than I thought!

After this my imagery started to scream back at me, I began to trust my artistic voice, and build momentum, without the camera in my hand I felt disconnected.

I now embraced my style – which has always been dark, I love to show case grittier tones, shadows, or shoot through things to convey complexity and depth. The things others may view as flaws - I see as real and authentic, moments which are expressed through each subject’s unique personality, intimacy and deep connections.

 It all sounds, deep, I truly love what I do, and the people I have met through this journey.

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