Seeing vs Looking ~ What I think when I take photos.
I blinked and 2016 was over. The key takeaway for me was that all we have is this one moment. That elusive threshold when the future becomes the past. Sometimes stretching far in to the distance like the sensuous dunes of the Sahara, and at other times vanishing before your eyes like the wings of a hummingbird. The year that became the dawn of the Orwellian era, when the phrase ‘post-truth’ entered the vernacular, the year of our Demiurge 2016 – as my friend Miguel from Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio would put it, was that proverbial mixed bag of a year. As a photographer, becoming aware of the moment became my single pursuit.
I decided to heed a persisting inner voice and started to do what I love. Seeking, capturing and creating moments. Through photography, film, music and simply by practicing how to breathe properly, I started seeing the world as opposed to looking at the world. Castañeda fans would appreciate that reference. When you see the world for what it is without prejudice, without giving it a name or judging it, then the world comes alive. The quieter voices become apparent. Silent observers, usually blended in the background, become visible.
Voices from the Underground ~ Ladies of Hip Hop, Auckland
Hip Hop. Women. If you found the juxtaposition to be somewhat jarring, you weren’t there that night. These young women unleashed some serious urban poetry in Karangahape road’s Neck of The Woods bar. Coincidently, I observed all three of them were of Middle Eastern descent. Their unique interpretation of urban music, coloured in with their respective life experiences was genuine and uplifting.
Making Peace and Other Good Stuff ~ Mexican Style
Popocatépetl. I was nearly 7 years old when I first heard that awe-inspiring word in a school textbook. Mexico entered my psyche in all its haunting beauty and melancholia, bringing forth memories that I never knew I had, and continues to captivate me to this day. Mexico, along with Egypt, had made peace with mortality since its inception through Toltec, Maya and Aztec epochs, surviving the decimation of culture and memory to the Spanish Conquest and smallpox. Mexican people inspire me, having undergone the severe psychological shock of the Conquest, the dysfunctional years of dependency, revolutions, and braving many other more recent maladies including the passive aggression from the northern neighbour. Mexicans don’t seem to fear death at all. They celebrate it. I am reminded of a line from the Los Angeles-based band Ozomatli ~ “En la vida hay dos cosas ciertas. Son la muerte y el cambio” – In life, there are two certain things. Death and change.
Mexico had seen life, accepted its changes, survived its tragedies and come to that profound realisation that life and death are simply two sides of the same coin. It is to be appreciated, embraced and celebrated as one. Mexicans, through time and tide, have mastered this difficult art, regardless of any Cortés or Trump. No wonder they are some of the most joyful people I’ve ever met.
Photography for me is the art of capturing stories. Freezing a moment in space and time which would otherwise fly past us. The technical aspects of photography should always be a means to communicate the thought process behind the image, in my opinion. Good stories are more memorable than the type of camera used, shutter speeds, apertures and lighting conditions.
Pictures do speak a thousand words.
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