I recently captured these moments in Fremantle (my favourite port city) using my Yashica35. I was using Kodak TRI-X 400 Black & White film and for some reason the shots were terribly over exposed and the highlights completely blown out. Possibly I forgot to set my exposure meter to 400 asa (my camera doesn’t have a built in meter) and have been relying a bit too much on guesswork, I might have to take a bit more care from now on.
I have been spending more time painting than photography lately, (I will post some paintings soon) and read something recently that the best photography can do is represent the truth and offer itself as a medium to mirror society and ourselves, while painting can go beyond ‘the appearance of things’. I think that was meant to be a negative comment about photography, but I think using photography as a mirror to society, and our personal perspective, makes it a powerful documentary medium and maybe this is something painting cannot so easily achieve. I’m not really keen on comparing photography to painting as I am happy to do both, however for me the magic of photography is capturing an everyday moment in a single image that reveals far more than what we could have otherwise perceived. I love to try and capture the way people interact within their environment, both in public and private spaces. These emotions and stories are often lost in the everyday chaos of life.
When I think of paintings that also capture the stillness of a moment in time, faithfully recording not only the appearance of a time and place, but a sense of society and our place in it, Hopper is the one that does this best. In Hopper’s case his paintings examine solitude and isolation and the way people adapted to the shifting roles of public and private spaces at a time when there was significant upheaval in technology, transportation and the role of cities in people’s lives. I have studied Hopper’s painting for many years, the book “The Fall of Public Man” by Richard Sennet provides insights into the demise of public life in society, that perhaps offer a commentary that could accompany many of Hopper’s paintings (although Hopper never offered any personal explanation himself, so we will never know for sure). Photographers, like Gail Halaban seem to be holding up a similar mirror to current day society (has anything really changed?), but to me without the same emotional potency. But maybe thats an unfair comparison, as Hopper was the master.
Anyway, here are a few quiet moments captured in downtown Fremantle.