-Wellington Street Photographs click here
-Puke Ariki Exhibition of Early Taranaki Photographs click here
-India Photographs click here
Travelling on the Cook Strait Ferry is always a high time for me. I can't sit still and everywhere I turn there are images begging to be taken. I like the way the man's hat has become part of the hills.
The Railways (who run the Ferries) once asked for images to advertise their service so I sent them a few proofs from previous trips. Below is one of them - they didn't even reply to me! Strange, because they could promote the Ferries as a photographer's dream - which they are. Otherwise it's as boring as hell.
New work from my India negs. Three school boys in the village of Sirohi, Southern Rajasthan 2010. The light in the desert was very hard and their faces are almost lost in blackness. And, it was about 50 degrees
Originally I liked the photograph below of the same boys because of the mystery in the lighting, which I put in my Sleeping Cow exhibition (on show now in Hawkes Bay - see Exhibitions Link).
Today I re-discovered the new one above and now I like it as much.
New work from my India negs 2010. I'm going back to India next year because I love the essence of people relaxed in their environments. I used to be able to record NZlanders like this - but not now. Our society is screwed up with fear.
The very people who happily thumb through photo books in shops, looking at others with facination - fear the photographer in their midst as a sneaky creep.
The other day I was stopped by the police (the first time in my life) while I was taking photographs in a public place. "Someone had complained I was looking sneaky with my little camera. Other photographers were Ok with their big professional cameras" - said the policeman.
Even after 40 years If I ever doubt what I'm doing I'll go home and look at my library of street photographers. Cartier-Bresson for example immediately re-charges my batteries, and I'm a believer again.
Mr Plod was OK ("just doing my job") when he saw my book, which I often carry around with me. But what has changed in our society?
I was in Taranaki last week for the opening of a joint exhibition called 'View 3' in the Fritz Reuter Gallery, Inglewood. Together with Painter Lynda Newman and sculptorist Kathy Lunzman I have nine photographs on display.
The Sleeping Cow (Photographs from Rajasthan) is also showing at the Hawkes Bay Photographers Gallery in Napier.
See the EXHIBITIONS LINK for details and examples of the exhibitions.
The photograph above was made in Eltham last week.
A Submission to Sleep
Four youthful figures, students perhaps, lie prone, at rest across beanbag chairs at the staged footing of an event unknown. There’s a humour in the casual pose of the figures who, in full public view, seem to have just dumped themselves there without a care in the world. In the upper right corner, just within the periphery of one’s outer vision another lesser activity, not at first glance clear, is taking place.
Large format photographers, while viewing the ground glass under their dark cloths, are well trained to always consider carefully the edges and corners of their photographs as they compose, as often these areas hold or give substance to the image proper. The slightest shift of camera direction can change drastically the final result.
With 35mm cameras, as used here, minus the customary set up time afforded large format, the keenly observant photographer does the same thing; he scans the edges prior to pressing the shutter, albeit instinctively.
The eye, momentarily captured at once by the central figures of this image, senses a form sitting in the upper right corner. It could be a broad backed forestry worker in an industrial style chequered workshirt. On closer inspection it is revealed how the mind plays tricks and one sees small legs protruding from under the shirt, realising that this is in fact a small child standing on the surrounding platform, reaching for the back of someone’s head, as if about to jump them.
This hilarious error of judgement is further added to by the heavily anchored strops set into the ground behind them, like some bungy awaiting release to hurl both into the strata beyond.
The confident submission of the centrally framed youth, collapsed into the body moulding comfort of the beanbags is immediately striking. Older persons in a public arena might be less prone to such wilful abandonment of consciousness.
We notice the figure on the far left has even kicked off his branded sneakers and loosened his belt a little-- he is apparently there for the long haul. The girl next to him lies face to the sky, vulnerable, confidently comatose, while the next figure appears grateful the bean bags were there to capture his helpless toe-tipped stumble into blissful oblivion. The last remaining figure looks like he may be subconsciously calculating the results of his recent maths exam for errors, but the overall impression of the students’ total submission to sleep, stretching out in such random, abandoned comfort in a public place is something I find very encouraging.
Given today’s political currency, we in New Zealand have little need, at least by overseas comparison, to take up arms in protest for our liberty. We assume our safe political situation, taking it almost as a given. We can safely lie around on bean bags. In countries struggling for their democratic voice, thousands of youthful students lie dead on bloodied pavements and blood soaked desert sands, a far cry from our present comfort.
I consider this photograph to be a very successful image, as it reaches me on various levels of awareness. Many of Julian Ward’s photos take a gentle, enquiring approach, other images of his, I find perfectly poetic, some even grate like an old bus that can’t find the correct gear to change down to; that’s not in any way to be seen as a fault of the photographers, rather, it tells me that I need to look harder, for longer, to reflect with a mind that has stepped away from the mundane and gain the deeper centres of possible meanings his richly printed photographs offer us.