One click at a time
I took up photography in Abu Dhabi. My son, Benedict, was 18 months and my daughter, Florence, was just over 10 years. I’d been looking for something creative to engage myself with for some time. I was loving being a mum to my second baby but I felt something was missing: something inside me was lying in wait, unexpressed. I’d actually tried my hand at writing for a while and found the process enjoying at times,but very often frustrating. Eventually I realized it wasn’t my thing.
Photography was different. I just picked up a camera and played and realized I was hooked. I did a short course on the basics of using a DSLR and improvement was gradual over the next 4 years. I had many pictures inside my head but, at first, they just didn’t match the reality of what trickled stubbornly out of my camera! I wanted to make pictures that were a bit magical and otherworldly, I thought, and yet my pictures looked anything but. I loved black and white and yet I couldn’t find my voice with it, everything I tried to convert looked dull somehow and so I stuck to color. I kept going. Perhaps the last couple of years of having to adapt to a new home in Abu Dhabi and the fact I’d had my second child after three horrible miscarriages in a row - had made me grow a thicker skin. I kept repeating: if I keep trying, the pictures will get better...Ultimately what I liked, and still like, is that when the shutter clicks the moment is past. I can’t look back. I can only ever look forward. I do love that simplicity. One click at a time.
I’ve had a few a-ha! moments along the way. My first camera was the Nikon D7000, but when I got the Sigma 1.4 art lens I was in heaven. I just love the lower apertures below F3 and the difference it made to my pictures was huge. Another a-ha! moment was the summer I took pictures with my sunglasses on the whole time. Everything was darker and slightly underexposed, but rightly or wrongly, I loved the effects of color. Deep and dark, with all the tones somehow maxed out. Cloudy skies could be bruised purple, river water could be darkest ink green. Right now, my latest (swoon) aha! moment is that I am finally embracing more black and white. Actually, I always knew I wanted to explore black and white but for the past few years I wasn’t able to make it work, everything I tried in the edit was just...not right. Too much contrast, or not enough and flat. I thought that perhaps I couldn’t “see” in shades of grey. Then I watched some online Photoshop tutorials on how to make black and whites “pop” and did a great workshop with Cris Stephens and I’m happier with the conversions now.
Now, as I write this, I am one week into two months of summer here in Europe. Right now in England it’s a time for adventure and for the children to run free and try out new things. Looking out across the farm fields, the rain speckles the window and the clouds quickly darken. I know it will be very different here when I move back to northern Europe. A very different kind of light. No more sunshine and water (I think of the old garden hose in Abu Dhabi that has served me so well on a day I have run out of ideas, and so many of my favorite pictures have water in them...). In Abu Dhabi, there is an abundance of light - sunbursts and golden showers of haze - and here, in England, often very little. I’ll be waiting for the aha! moment when the time comes though, but for now the rain is novel.