One side benefit of photography is a deeper connection with the world that comes through the study of subject. Most photographers have at least one subject they return to again and again. A place, person or thing that holds a significant meaning. Mine is a small outcrop of headland on the Bellarine Peninsula, about an hour from Melbourne called Point Lonsdale. This was one of the first places where, with a few rolls of Ilford 100 in my pocket, I fumbled with an old Nikon and a borrowed tripod that weighed as much as a sledge hammer and pinched my fingers every time I tried to adjust it. Where I created my first overexposed, poorly composed, out of focus images of seascapes and the surrounding coastline. I’d like to say they were impressionist, but really they were just bad photos. Really bad photos. Where there any image that was half decent (by which I mean in focus) I would hurry to the darkroom, enlarging it to poster size and hanging it on my wall for the world to see. It was crap, but I was proud of this crap.
I returned time and time again to this place, partly because it was convenient, but also partly because it began to hold some meaning. Sometimes I’d walk around for hours before even thinking of taking out my camera, sometimes I wouldn’t even bring it. This beach became a place to reflect.
As I practiced and slowly improved, I felt I was able to do some sort justice to the place. I began to understand how to capture the tranquillity of low tide when the rock pools were exposed and clouds were reflected in them, the best angles for each time of day to shoot the lighthouse that stands proudly above the cliff tops, and the long jetty that protrudes from the beach and is used by fisherman all year round.
I’ve kept coming back for 15 years. It is only a small area, but I somehow always manage to find something new that I’d never before noticed. It has taught me, not only about the technical aspects of photography, but also about seeing, about being observant and slowing down. I’ve learned to appreciate what is around me. This is a place I will always return to. I feel I owe it a debt for the gift it has given me. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be able to honour it in photographs.