a tiny 365 projectWe are what we repeatedly do (Aristotle)
Before social media dominated our lives, I had a notion to express myself by photographing a little toy robot called Tiny for 365 consecutive days. Tiny had a modest and loyal following around the world, all who projected their own stories onto his daily adventures and insights. Tiny became bigger than life; I became his humble servant who was profoundly changed and learnt so much from the experience. A Tiny 365 Project gave me the opportunity to see myself and the world with new fresh eyes.
Discovering Hidden WorldsPhotography helps people to see (Berenice Abbott)
Starting out I was fascinated by and committed to macro photography. While discovering hidden and forgotten worlds, I learnt that doing freehand macro work required a great deal of inner stillness, attention to detail and a preparedness to take the time to observe. I learnt to breathe with my subject. With a disciplined stillness, I learnt to peel back the veils that cloak our world and to really see. For me macro photography became a form of active meditation. (water droplet trapped on cactus needle)
its all about lightWhen you light a candle, you also cast a shadow (Ursula Le Guin)
In my view, one of the most technical aspects of photography is learning to be one with "the light". The more I learn about light, the more I realise I have to learn about the complex and subtle language of light. Light is the most fundamental element in photography. Above anything else, it directs my technical and artistic choices, it defines the mood, and is the unforgiving selector in the editing room.
digital darkroomsthere's an app for that, right? (several of my customers)
To be honest, I spend more time in front of the computer editing and retouching than I do behind the lens. Commercial considerations is the only limitation to the amount of time spent and what can be achieved (manipulated) in the post production of an image. Throughout my photographic journey, my secret pleasure has been combining my real-life photography with imaginary worlds. If only such creative pursuits paid the rent :) However, the time spent on these creative works hones my post production skills.
people - the final frontierA painter constructs, the photographer discloses (Susan Sontag)
It took me many years before I felt comfortable with the responsibility of photographing people. Perhaps some of that had to do with my personal aversion to being photographed. An image, straight out of the camera has a raw, unfiltered honesty. The camera sees us as we are without judgement, not as we imagine ourselves. More often than not, the reality is softened in post production. I feel that I sign an unspoken contract when photographing people - to be respectful, have empathy, and show compassion.
lessons in rejection and failureRejection refines us (Chuck Wendig)
Like most creatives, I pour my heart and soul into my work, and I have a powerful inner critic. For two decades I worked in a corporate environment where there was no room for experimentation or mistakes. Through photography, I learnt - my bad photos, the ones that no-one will ever see, are better teachers than the good ones; my inner critic is wiser when in the back seat; to smile at rejection; and above all to be in the moment, trusting my instincts in that 1/100th of a second.
My Bread and Buttercommercial realities versus creative aspirations
I get as much satisfaction from completing a commercial project as I do from working on a creative piece for personal expression. The challenges are different but no less enjoyable. There is still a creative thinking process to translate a client's vision into images (even if the subject is a swatch of fabric). There may be a need to change gears and focus more on disciplined, repeatable processes for long term clients; but there is nothing like a deadline to whet your problem solving skills.
Generalist by natureMore of me comes out when I improvise. (Edward Hopper)
There are no rules in photography. There is no expert in photography. With every photoshoot, I learn something new. I refine my craft through improvisation and working across different genres. I feel that by being a generalist, I am building a breadth of experience and depth of knowledge that keeps my work attitude fresh, a flexibility to change course when the photoshoot is not going as planned and an ability to offer creative solutions to deliver a great result for my client.
A Favourite - The Conspiracya photograph is a secret about a secret (Diane Arbus, 1985)
It may look like it is taken straight from a film set, and could inspire an entire novel of intrigue.
The truth - a 40th birthday celebration at a small restaurant in an inner city suburb. The patron was waiting to use the bathroom and we can see through to the staff working in the kitchen. Behind the lens, in a fraction of a second, I imagined a very different scenario - far more interesting and conspiratorial.
Personally, this has become one of my all time favourite photos.
Why Dragon Papillon?personal philosophy
My logo is a dragon with butterfly wings in front of a stylised camera lens. A blending of the imaginary and the real. But does it mean anything?
To me, it means everything.
"Strength through transformation".
It sums up the essence of who I am, how I aspire to live life, and what I believe in, in a single image.
If we get to know each other better, I am happy to share more of the story behind the dragon with butterfly wings.
Dragon Papillon Photography Studio is based in Kanahooka, 2530 NSW, Australia
We offer boutique photography services for commercial product photography, visual content for websites and social media, professional portraits and event photography.