Dead or Alive

Does it really matter? Not to me, I have to admit. It doesn’t matter if something is dead or alive, there is still much beauty to be found. In fact I used to love to shoot dead flowers when I was … Continue reading

Spain!

Oh Spain!

I dreamt about you for many years.

I’ve never been to Europe – and you were my first priority.

Although I had little time with you, you certainly captured me, swept me up in your beauty, your history, your hospitality and your romance!

I feel lucky to have trailed through the streets of Barcelona and wandered under street lamps that look like delicate earrings, illuminating tiny hints of a massive and diverse history I can barely begin to imagine.

I have few words to describe your splendor, so I choose images to tell the story of a variety of delights that peaked my interest.

Thank you, especially to Barcelona and the Camino where I spent most of my time – and to the beautiful hosts who welcomed me and shared with me some of what you have to offer.

This is my thank you.

 

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Street Photography

SO here is a theme that I have not tried in a very long time…..

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY. It was Canon’s February theme, so I gave it a go. It’s always good to try different things, right?

It brought up some interesting issues around the way that I choose to shoot. Like highlighting the fact that I don’t like to be watched while photographing. Perhaps that is part of me preferring to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, but I did notice the irony of shooting others in public, but not enjoying doing the shooting while in public.

What I do enjoy about it, is watching for patterns and relationships in the everyday (and sometimes not so everyday) events happening around you. That can be quite captivating and can mean that I forget about being observed (to some degree).

I certainly enjoy the work of other street photographers…. after all I have two large volumes of work by Elliott Erwitt who is famous for his street photography all over the world. In fact I met Elliott Erwitt in New York City and had him sign one of his books for me!

It is the appreciation for simply SEEING what is there and capturing the essence of what makes it special – whether that be a pattern of shapes in one split moment, or an expression, or sequence of events that can be beautiful or humorous or interesting in that one moment.

I believe it takes great patience, perhaps that is another aspect I lack. However, it does relate to the work I do, in that I like to photograph “found” things rather than something I make up and is make believe.

This was my entry shot, taken at the Rockabilly Festival in Ballarat, February 2015.

Alison Shirley Photography

Through the windows of the past.

Freedom – Canon Light Awards, January 2015

So I entered a competition with Canon Australia for January. The theme was ‘freedom’, which is awesome but also very broad.

It conjures all those images of vast landscapes, flying like a bird, surfing, dancing/leaping, etc, which of course were well represented.

I did not win this competition, but wanted to share with you my entry – this ‘Southern Old Lady’.

FREEDOM, January Canon Light Awards. Alison Shirley Photography.

FREEDOM, January Canon Light Awards. Alison Shirley Photography.

 

I found this unfortunate visitor at my studio. He’d already passed and had a buddy with him too. (I can’t tell male from female by the way!). I couldn’t quite believe the perfect formation of it. I looked it up on the internet and most of the images I found of this species were shot with their wings totally open, which doesn’t have the same incredible impact that this guy had on me. Front on, it looked like I was staring at the face of a cat. What an awesome and convincing disguise – so striking. It got me thinking about freedom too.

There are so many versions of the idea of freedom. This guy had me thinking about the way that we can concern ourselves so seriously with the way we think people see us. Of course we can never really know the way people see us, but it certainly impacts on many decisions in ours lives, too many if we allow it.

For me freedom is an inner peace. Part of this is definitely about learning to be free of the opinions of others, in order to truly listen to myself. It might sound basic, but sometimes the opinions of the world and community, through multitudes of media, images and sound can be so deafening it’s hard to hear yourself think. (Then again, sometimes it’s my own voice that I need to shut down in order to think with clarity and truth.)

This little guy knows how to deflect what you think you can see of him and go under the radar, in order to survive his predators.

His ability to remain himself while you think he looks like something entirely different is his strength and ticket to freedom.

We can learn from him.

Although I did not get a place in the comp, by the look of this shot of the judge, my photo does seem to be flagged in the background (4 down from the top in the right corner), so perhaps I got a look-in?

Judge - Graham Munro

How about you? What would your image of freedom be?

 

 

Check out the beautiful winning entries here

 

 

 

Learning to look up

I’m on a pathway of learning to love what I am, what I have and who I am.

It’s not that I won’t be trying to improve, but I’ve come to realise that I waste a great deal of energy lamenting what is NOT present in my life, my body and my immediate world.

Of course this is destructive, wasteful and poor management of energy, among other things!

So it is a year of moving forward, perhaps not without fear, but THROUGH fear. Yes, I do that every year. I guess I want to leap a little further, a little higher, be airborne a little longer.

Perhaps I have already learnt to trust myself more and that it’s ok to spread my wings further without knowing what will happen.

What will happen is life – as always – abundant with the full spectrum of emotions and experiences.

I’m a private person and sometimes that prevents me from exposing myself as utterly as art does. It also leaves me feeling as though I have nothing to “say”.

So rather than concerning myself too much with that, I will just BE.

So here is me, trying something new, learning to look up at the abundant sky – simultaneously reminding me how minuscule and integral I am.

I hope you enjoy…

 

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January night sky, 2015

I SEE YOU

I was standing on a mountain with a bunch of old friends the other day. We were at a mate’s property, before a huge bonfire, celebrating 2 friends’ 40th birthdays – all camping out together for the night.

In my brief conversation with one of the boys, we quickly came to be talking about spirituality. “I think that’s one of the things that all of us here have in common, our sense of spirituality is all about feeling connected…. TO THE LAND!” I chimed in. Most definitely, or in Matty’s case, more the OCEAN.

I make no claim to the kind of spirituality Aboriginal culture speaks of. As far as I am aware I have no heritage to link me there. And the fullness and complexity of traditional knowledge goes far and deep beyond my imaginings.

However, I do feel that rich and powerful connection to the land where I was born and I feel that divine appreciation for a natural landscape – in my own homeland and elsewhere on this planet.

This is why photography is somewhat like my bible. It helps me to stop and study my spirituality. I open my shutter and stop to breathe in the miraculous, the divine. It helps me to focus, calm myself, feel and capture my appreciation. The image becomes a thank you, an “I SEE you”.

This might sound a tad hippy, but once I climbed a tree in the dry Todd River bed of Alice Springs, hung my arms and legs around a huge branch and whispered “I promise to show the world, or remind the world how beautiful you are”.

Perhaps I was also whispering that to myself, as I seek to remind myself and everyone of our deserving of self-love and healthy worshipfulness. For is not my body a natural wonder?

The more I learn about it, the more I admire it, want to learn to respect it and see it as miraculous.

 

My macro work brings me in close, to see what is otherwise invisible or over-looked. And that is a whole new world of discovery. David Attenborough himself couldn’t be more excited by the layers and beauty that it reveals. Again, my anatomy study is a similar act with familiar outcomes. The inner workings of my body is also complex and inspiring, with multitudes of daily miraculous events occurring.

So photographing the earth, sky, sea, the natural world, including the human body is like entering a temple and bowing in prayer.

It is where I find peace, meet my maker and meet my humanity and my soul, even.

I wish more world leaders could feel this in their hearts and souls too. They might then be able to act as our Christ and save us, rather than our Judas. For what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves.

It’s impossible to live and breathe and adore this earthly place, without facing my own body within it, as part of it, my vessel to take me through this version of a life experience. Why then the epic struggle to truly love and cherish my own mountains, deep valleys, volcanic eruptions, hailstorms, deserts, lush rainforests and spinifex within?

It is a constant journey, but I intend to celebrate that journey. I trip up a lot, but I am still moving on it. Which brings me to my next body of work, an idea that has been brewing for a number of years. It’s fruition is overdue.

A combination of the body of the earth and the body of us. I’m looking for signs of life to photograph: scars, stretch marks, unusual markings, lines, blemishes, etc.

Please put yourself forward if you have any of these. You won’t be identified, your markings will be abstracted.

Please contact me through my facebook page if you wish to take part.

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The colour of hope

It has been awhile, my apologies!

Last year was terrible and challenging for a number of people I love and care about.

I did a great deal of moving, and now comes a time to settle properly where I am and enjoy.

It was a busy year for me, photographically. Lots to catch up on, but for now I would like to show you a few shots from my wanderings closer to home.

For it is in this place that I live and explore. Right now I am working on pieces that incorporate both photography (still and moving) – and dance! It all comes together!! All those parts of me that most love to show themselves.

This series is a taste of an exhibition to come.

It is about hope.

It is about the great dry.

The need to live in hope and the need to survive the great dry.

The land expresses everything that we as human bodies experience – and it’s telling me to stay hydrated and treasure those magical life forces that we take so for granted most of the time.

Myrniong turn off, Victoria

“Myrniong turn off”, Victoria

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“Barbed wire fence” Myrniong turn off, Western Highway, Victoria

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“Shades of dry” Myrniong turn off, Western Highway, Victoria

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“Tired and cross”, Myrniong turn off, Western Highway, Victoria

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“White wash”, Myrniong turn off, Western Highway, Victoria

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“Field meeting”, near Myrniong, Victoria

A new day in a new way 2013

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If you have been wondering where I have gone with my photography, I’ll tell you – into snappy land.

Being summer and having a holiday and sunshine, lots of outdoor time, some relaxing time and visiting family etc, I found a new photography addiction in the form of Instagram.

SO I entered the digital world tentatively, thinking I was a purest, and I’ve landed here, where all things are quick and simple.

It didn’t take me long for two reasons:

I have always loved the square format. I still have a beautiful Mamiya twin lens medium format camera which I still shoot with sometimes. I love it. Square has long been a favourite for me.

Then there is the ease of having your phone with you – as opposed to needing to carry around your heavy camera.

Now don’t misunderstand me. This is about the everyday, the snaps that would otherwise pass you by, the moments that you can see and grab quickly.

They don’t replace the other work I do. They are simply another form of my photography and I have to say I am having a lot of fun with this!

I hope you enjoy them too.

Above, was the trip to Sydney, below the heavenly holiday in Hobart.

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Then some gorgeous days in Dover, south of Hobart, fortunately not near where the fires were raging. You can see how orange the sky was at times though.

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And then back to work and driving to and from town and city

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In 2013, celebrating what is my town, wondering around it in the sunshine when I can and taking a look about the place.

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Have fun this year, enjoy your photography which ever way you like it, just make sure you shoot.

‘Whatever You Do, Don’t panic!’

You may remember a dancer I photographed in an earlier blog, Rain Francis.

She has her own dance company Rain and Lucky Dance Theatre. They recently performed at the Short and Sweet Festival in Melbourne.

I was delighted to be asked to take some photos at one of their rehearsals and see the work come together in it’s final stages.

Rain’s dancers, Erynne, Jessica and Hanna worked hard  – and some of these stills capture the incredible work that happens in SECONDS,  in a dance piece.

All the talent and hard yakka that went into this piece, is evident in it’s powerful result. It was inspiring to be present for this convergence of experience with expression.

And the audience must have agreed, as Rain and Lucky Dance Theatre won the People’s Choice Award. Congratulations!!

Here’s a glimpse into a choreographer’s work of art, with the help of 3 dancers.

And if you missed it, you still have a chance to see it at the Variety Gala on Dec 9th! Book now!

Spring has sprung!

 

After more than a year in my new home, my garden is still giving me great surprises with what comes up in each new season.

It’s hard not to get out the macro lens and show my appreciation, so I have done it again, focussing this time on a gorgeous purple bulb that seemed to shoot up out of nowhere!

It reminds me to keep on keeping on, as you never know what is around the corner. So here is a little visual thank you to the universe that is my garden, doing it’s own amazing thing.

And may we all continue to do our own amazing thing, even if it takes getting through those winters to rise up and greet the sunshine with everything we have to offer.

And we all DO have something to offer!