Familiar Places

I recently spent a week in Bali on a family holiday and made sure I found the time to explore the streets with my Yashica 35. I imagined that the narrow streets, crowded with people and life would provide unlimited opportunities for photography, however I quickly realised that I was getting nowhere with my shots. Even though I was shooting film and could not be sure what the images would be like I instinctively knew that they were going to be disappointing.  As the week went by I continued shooting at every opportunity as we travelled around to new places but continued to feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I think photography provides a great excuse to wander the streets and soak in the atmosphere, which at least I was enjoying.

After a few days, I started to notice details about the streets around our villa, places that I walked past everyday that started to interest me. There was a local fresh produce market next door and at the right time in the morning the light was vibrant and matched by the activity of locals streaming in and out on their motor scooters. I started going there first thing to take some photos and felt that finally I was enjoying taking some shots and could see compositions that I wanted to capture on film. Finally I was getting somewhere. And in the afternoon, around dusk, I found an unassuming street corner, about 50 meters from our villa where the light caught the faces of locals as they passed by on their motor scooters that I found captivating – I shot 3 films in that one place over a couple of days, and enjoyed every shot.

Most of my photography at home follows familiar patterns and places, places that I know intimately, how the light falls, perspectives that work well and compositions that always interest me. Although travelling to new places is exciting, I guess that at least for me, a certain familiarity is required, perhaps a certain respect for a place before I feel comfortable with the camera.

So here are a selection of shots, all taken in the last couple of days of our trip, of some familiar places discovered in Bali.

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Bali in b&w 


Bali in Colour




  1. Rare is the place that reveals itself on the first day. When I work, I tend to personify place and light and, in so doing, enter into a relationship with them. When I treat place and light with the respect that I would give a person, I find myself more open to what my new acquaintance of place wants to show me (light is an established friend that knows all places and is very kind to me, revealing what a place is often too shy show). And, as with people, time spent engaged is paramount. Evans spent weeks in his cathedrals before he started to photograph so I think you are on to a larger truth.



    1. thanks Mark, yes I like that word respect. I like the way you described it. I think the whole point of photography is to learn and gain a better understanding, and respect, of the subject – whether it be a person or place. I love to see in a photograph something that could not be seen from the naked eye. I think the whole experience of slowing down and taking time is maybe why I am drifting back to film – it just helps me to be more engaged. I am also doing a lot more painting, probably for much the same reason.



  2. La photo c’est aussi s’approprier le lieu, l’instant, une lumière, pour la rendre aussitôt à elle même et la laisser exister par delà les regards.



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