This collection of photos dates from 2004-5 and were all taken using my second digital camera – an Olympus of some description. It was hardly a very professional camera, clocking in at around 3.2 megapixels, but with a decent 10x manual zoom, it gave me a degree of flexibility I had never had with a camera before. Prior to this, my first digital camera had been purchased just a year before, in 2003, before a flight to Venice. It was a neat little Minolta with a 3x manual zoom, which I truly loved for its design and ease of use. Sadly, however, it died a sorry death when a Gatorade opened in my bag and drowned its circuit board.
I owe a great deal to both of those cameras for being just good enough to give me the confidence to take photography more seriously. The images seemed excitingly clear and impressively accessible and available. This was, of course, when digital cameras were in their early phase of expansion – going from a novelty item to a technology commodity that everyone owned. It was also before mobile phones could offer anything like the same level of quality as a compact.
Prior to this I’d used a range of compact film cameras, never having owned an SLR. I certainly enjoyed taking photographs, though I understood very little about the craft. It was, after all, difficult to experiment without access to a dark room or committing to the cost of developing regularly and immediately, so I mostly focussed on taking snaps of people. I did, however, have a strong yearning to record the many places I visited when I was first travelling around Europe and, later, doing the same whilst based at Cambridge. These photos, whilst ambitious insofar as what I hoped to achieve, were technically naïve and taken using cameras that weren’t quite up to scratch.
Getting my first digital camera, however, opened up the opportunity to experiment as much as possible and it wasn’t long before I grew in confidence. Another great leap forward for me came when I first printed a digital photograph using my own inkjet. I was absolutely astonished at how perfectly clear and glossy the reproduction was. I sat staring at it in wonder for some time, and kept going back to take another look. The capacity to shoot and print my own photos for so little cost and with such ease turned into an obsession, and soon my walls were covered in prints. This fuelled a strong desire to get out there and shoot as much as possible, and so I did, starting the habit I’ve had ever since of never leaving the house without a camera, and was often to be seen carting a tripod around in the hope of some good long exposures.
These photographs all date from that period of great enthusiasm, when I saw how I might tell stories just as easily through photography. Prior to this, I’d seen photography primarily as a means of recording, rather than a means of expression. I was, at the time, writing novels, poetry and short stories with a furious passion. Photography added the much needed colour and a pleasingly easy adjunct to what I considered those more difficult arts. I don’t mean to suggest that photography is easy, especially not for those who agonise over setting up compositions and technical exactness, yet as someone whose photography has mostly been opportunistic, I’ve always seen it as a refreshingly easy and fun means of creating a vignette or narrative.
In retrospect, these photographs aren’t all great by any means and, coming back to them, they seem disappointingly low-res. Yet there are some here which I dearly love for their compositions and the memories they bring me both of how much I liked them at the time, and where and when I was in life when they were taken. Everything here is from Sydney, and many were taken near to where I was living at the time – Glebe. Either way, I hope you enjoy them!