Friday, May 27, 2011

Fantastic FNQ photo Friday

I took myself down for a walk along the Esplanade this morning. Why? Because I needed to recharge my creative batteries and get re-acquainted with my camera. I find it wonderful to be out in nature and just take a walk somewhere beautiful to see what my eye will find. It helps get you more in sync with your vision and makes you more creative and productive when you get back to work on assignment for clients.

Now this image was taken on Townsville's version of the Esplanade - known as The Strand. I was walking along and saw these great, almost silhouetted palm trees and just sat and waited for a bicycle to come along.

Sometimes all a photographer needs to get the creative juices flowing more freely is to get out for a good long walk and just photograph whatever comes along. And can you think of any place better to do it? Have a great weekend from sunny Cairns, far north Queensland.

Oh and click on the link if you'd like to see what else Townsville has to offer

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good pictures can be found anywhere.

Good pictures really can be found anywhere. You just need to know what you find interesting. In some ways I'm writing this to myself as much as I am to you folks out there. As a photographer who has spent a great part of his life hopping on a plane to somewhere else, I really felt disconnected from my local community here in Cairns.

I hardly ever went to events (that my kids didn't want to!) or photographed festivals, gatherings. Anything really. The lure of the exotic was always far more appealing to me and I didn't really tend to get my cameras out until after I got off the plane. Or if I did photograph locally it was when I was on assignment.

But in the last few months I've started work on a couple of long-term projects. One a collaboration with an author friend of mine, and the other a personal project. And they've both required me to be more proactive in thinking of areas of interest that can be photographed locally.

Now here's the important part - you have to be interested in it not just as a photographic subject, but as an actual subject full stop. The more engaged and interested you are, the more perceptive and insightful your images will be. And the more passionate.

Now I live in a tourist town. We've got the Great Barrier Reef, we've got the Daintree up the road, Cape York, the Atherton Tablelands. We get millions of tourists a year visiting us and you're thinking 'but hey nobody ever visits my town'. Well these two projects I'm about to start work on have nothing whatsoever to do with travel or tourism. So they could be done anywhere.

Don't pigeonhole yourself in terms of what you want to photograph. I know I fell into that trap as a 'travel' photographer. But for now I'm sticking close to home for a little bit and walking down a slightly different avenue. One that I'm really excited about and can't wait to explore with my cameras.

Discover what it is that moves you and work toward photographing it. Get involved in it. Find the story, find your angle, discover what you personally can bring to the project. And go for it. No matter where you live there are stories dying to be told with your camera. Worry about an audience later, or not at all. Your choice but just get out there and do it. I know I will be!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Follow your dreams before it's too late.

Today's post is inspired by Sharon Cohrs. I've never met Sharon, only read about her in the paper. She's a local Cairns woman, a breast cancer survivor, and has just climbed Mt Everest. You can read about here in the Cairns Post article on her amazing feat. That makes a couple of Cairns locals who've knocked the big one off now. A couple of years back one-armed Paul Hockey made it all the way up and came back down safely to tell the tale.

The closest I got was a valley over. This image was taken from the top of Gokyo Peak - a mere molehill at about five and a half thousand metres above sea level. Still it took my wife and I three weeks to walk there from just outside Kathmandu and has to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

I spoke about my father-in-law yesterday. One of his life's big dreams is to get to Everest one day. Just to see it with his own eyes. My Mum's is to see the Taj Mahal. Neither of them have got there yet. I've been to both and count my blessings every day. If you have dreams - follow them. Don't let them go until it's too late. Do what you have to do to put them in place. If it's all too big and scary do it one step at a time. Just make sure you do it because before you know it there'll be, in the words of John Cougar Mellencamp "less days in front of the horse than riding the back of this cart' and you'll never do it.

If you'd like to see how following my crazy dreams got me to the Himalayas in Nepal then check out the link.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The difference between amateur and professional travel photography

This is my father-in-law. He's a spritely mid-70's, loves his mountains and his photography. Needless to say we get on like a house on fire. I was chatting to him on the phone last night as we wanted to let him know we'd be coming up to visit soon, which he was obviously pretty pleased about. Sapporo is our second home really, and I just adore the nature of Hokkaido.

Anyway Dad suggested that we take a trip to a small town in the middle of the island which has a small waterfall and take some photographs together. And I hate to admit it but my first thought was 'will the pictures sell?'. And there in a nutshell is the difference between a professional travel photographer and an amateur.

Whereas when I was an amateur I would just photograph everything and anything that struck my fancy willy nilly, I now find myself being a lot more selective with my time and subject matter. At the end of the day my images need to feed my family and so I have to think about the commercial return on investment. Sounds like a horrible way to think about a holiday doesn't it?

But there it is - if you decide to go pro then travel is no longer a holiday. It's work. Just like showing up to the office every day from 9 to 5. Yes it can be a lot more fun, yes it's probably a hell of a lot more rewarding spiritually. But it is still work.

If there's anything I really can't stand it's a non-professional attitude in those photographers purporting to be professional. Make a decision. You are either in business or you're not. You can't pretend to be one or the other.

Either go pro and wholeheartedly and enthusiastically embrace a life where travel and having new experiences becomes your vocation, but accept the limitations that this brings (ie you have to choose your destinations and subjects based on what will sell). Or if that sounds terrible then stick to being an amateur. You'll get to holiday where you want, photograph what you want and not give any of it a second thought. It's all about you, and worrying about whether the pictures will sell or not is irrelevant. That's how I spent the majority of my 20's and I loved every minute of it!

Oh, and what did I tell me father-in-law? Sounds great, let's go. After all, I'll be on holiday! Even for us workaholics the occasional travel jaunt can be non-work related after all.

Oh and if you'd like to see some more images and see why I love this part of the world just pop on over to the website to see some Sapporo pictures.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Laura Dance and Cultural Festival

Unfortunately I'll be away for this fantastic event this year. Without a doubt one of my all-time favourite festival experiences is the wonderful Laura Dance and Cultural Festival which is held in the small Cape York town of Laura.

Only a few hours north of Cairns it really is a world apart. Aboriginal dance troupes gather from all around the state for three days of competition to find the best dancers. Held in a small ring under towering gum trees with no accommodation but plenty of camping space, stalls from various groups such as National Parks and other community groups.

It's a no alcohol event and I don't know if that is part of the reason but when I attended I found a wonderful, friendly atmosphere with no aggression whatsoever. Everybody is here for a good time and everyone is made to feel welcome to this intimate glimpse into indigenous Australian culture. Definitely a highly recommended even for anyone about between the 17th to the 19th June.

You can click here to see a couple more of my images of the Laura Dance and Cultural Festival.