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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Serious Fun

I spent this morning working at a function for the ANZ bank, taking photographs at a function they were holding for the Australian Women Donors Network. It was an interesting morning learning about the means by which women can be empowered and empower the community through acts of financial philanthropy. It was a very interesting series of presentations. Toward the end of the shoot I was asked by one of the women who had spoken if it is possible to make a living from photography. She had always wanted to spend her life in the pursuit of her passions but had considered it inviable as a means to making ends meet.
It is an interesting question, and I responded with one. I asked her what she meant by 'a living'. I don't drive a Maserati. I don't own racehorses. But I have never gone without, and I live comfortably. Conversely, I have crawled through ancient pyramids, watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, The Himalayas, the Andes and the Rocky Mountains. I have held the skulls of ancient rulers, seen the piles of bones in the Killing Fields, laughed with Muslims and Monks and been chased for the kill by angry wild animals. I have touched the Taj Mahal and the Tombs of the Nobles, eaten guinea pig and used the smeared bodies of dead Amazonian ants to repel mosquitoes. I could go on, but I think you get the point. Because of photography, I have had a life - a very interesting life. In fact, there is a part of my website dedicated to this aspect of my life - the adventure that photography has brought to it. 
Which brings me to yesterday's shoot. Glynn and I decided to spend another day with our American friend, David Honl. We invited our good friend and fellow Creative Photo Workshops team member, David Oakley to join us also. We organised a model and spent the day in Melbourne taking photographs. Why? Because we could. Because we wanted to.
Photography is a wonderful and empowering passion that has the potential to take each day in your life and add to it by the simple act of creating from those moments, many of which would be considered rather everyday or common. But the photographer has the option to make an image, to place something within a frame, to write with light, to capture a moment. Yesterday was the result of a decision made to have a day in which our photography was not about our customers or clients. It was not a quick shot to ensure the image works for our workshop customers. It was simply a day we could use to take the photographs we wanted to take. 
So, David Oakley, Glynn and I met in town. Before meeting with David Honl we had a very informal CPW meeting over bacon and eggs to discuss the workshops we plan for 2011. We have much to prepare for and many workshops ahead of us, don't you worry! 
Then we met David Honl in the lobby of his hotel and  walked to Southbank to meet up with Jasmina Basic, our model. Ready and charged were two Elinchrom Ranger heads and a bunch of FlashWave III triggers and receivers. In our cases were Canons and Nikons, a range of  Tamron lenses, and a whole lot of card space. Yeah, it was going to be a great day. We were intent on having fun. Serious fun.
Working together to create images, debating the techniques, laughing and exchanging insults, as men do, we enjoyed our day of photography together. I find it refreshing that what I choose to do on my day off is to take photographs. I could never imagine myself loathing the thought of photography and opting not to take my cameras with me. I have known and spoken with renowned photographers who don't take their cameras with them on holidays unless it is only for family snapshots. There is nothing wrong with family snapshots, but there is a problem when a photographer makes a conscious choice to 'rest' from his photography. When we lose the passion to do it, the chance of killing our creativity in our profession is very high indeed. I never want to be in that place. Photography has granted me a living, true. But more importantly it has enhanced my life in ways I never dreamed possible. Why would I want that to ever change?

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The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller