Monday, January 16, 2006

Missing What's Around Me.

I'm getting itchy feet... I'm keen to hit the road again. There's a sense of focus when I am traveling... like when I shot this, on tour with Familia. I do understand that it's more luck than direct skill that results in that particular moment, in the perfect balance of the lines; but I like to think a sense of "learned instinct" (if there is such a thing) also plays a part. Muscle memory on the trigger finger, perhaps. But that sense of detachment that I get from being away from home makes me focus all the more clearly, all the more susceptible. Warren asked me how I see these things... I can only offer the above by way of explanation.

The downside of being away is missing my family. This shot was taken by Francois, while we were relaxing, just after the band had finished their soundcheck for their New Year's Eve show in Pretoria. I don't usually look this goofy (I hope) but like most photographers, I can suddenly feel very uncomfortable when the camera is turned on me. But she does break down a lot of my "walls", and I think Francois got something here, concerning the two of us.

I love my wife dearly, and the fact that I am married (yet also spend a good deal of time away from home) is a source of surprise to some. But she is very independent, very strong willed, and not the type to sit around without purpose while I am gone. As not only a mother, but a student (completing her Master's) and a counselor for those affected by HIV/AIDS, it amazes me that she even notices I am gone. I hope she does. At times though, she at least gets to tag along, like here; with Johnny, on the roof of the Protea Hotel, in Pretoria.

And then there's the kid. Brigid I miss terribly, and while she is taken up during the day with playing, exploring, and watching Play With Me, Sesame (her new obsession), I know she misses me too. I have a collection of clips of her on my cell phone that, when I am on the road and particularly homesick, I not only watch myself but wind up showing to whomever I'm with. Not always fun for them, I imagine. But it keeps me sane.

There's a reason for the clips, as opposed to stills; I have never had a more difficult subject. It seems so easy to make a "pretty"picture; but how to document, how to tell a story that just progresses daily at what seems an unnatural rate, but is of course the very essence of natural? Some documentarians take incredible shots of their children. I tend to make simple shots, like these of her first day at pre-school. I guess I am too close to it.

I was listening to an interview with Simon Wheatley, and he spoke of how loneliness helped him; how he cannot work with someone tagging around. It seems the same, like this shot where Ingrid becomes foreground interest, as I track Snake's movement, the girls' expressions, try to time Wynand's exhalations of his cigarette smoke and still catch the expression on his face as he sees me shooting... all while trying to compose. That's when it works.


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