I am finding it hard to put words to my thinking and feeling at the moment. I'm going through one of the those luminous times, if you've been lucky enough to experience this, where your understanding of certain elements of life shifts wholly and perceptibly to a new level, leaving your continuous self a little dazed and confused, although in a blissful, gentle way. I kind of feel like someone has substituted the suburban block in my head with about 10 acres of sweeping vista, and I'm fumbling around in my pyjamas looking for where the tea is kept now?
I only mention this because this beautiful human I was so lucky to meet and photograph on a recent trip to Noosa in Queensland, is the real deal, and is exactly the sort of person to understand about such things; she is someone to sit in the stillness (actually she is also the sort to find and make the tea for you) and share how perfect it is, without needing any more in the way of explanation than that.
I 'met' Marina online through her Instagram feed and our shared love of film photography (which she uses for personal work), and before meeting her in real life I guessed that I would approach her photo session in a freeform and expressive, more abstract, way. But my approach to photography is very responsive to the energy of the family I am capturing, and I was so moved by their earthiness and candour that I couldn't bear to interrupt their own natural flow with too many requests to do or be this or that. My general instinct has always been to keep out of people's faces, and I used to think that it was because I was naturally introverted and lacked the courage to insert my personality into situations (which I assumed must be a necessary step in the pursuit of artistic goals, one which I continued to execute miserably). But now I understand my inclinations better than that. I have always felt that people are inherently beautiful just as they are (without judgement from me on individual personal traits), with the motivations and feelings and desires that have brought them to this moment. Of course, some people are a little shy and welcome a photographer's invitation to be more playful or relaxed, but beyond gentle encouragement to soften that resistance (which might just take the form of engaging in light hearted play), I've long felt reluctant to impose on people any interactions or gestures that don't seem innately theirs, without understanding why i felt this so keenly.
I learnt something powerful the day I photographed Marina's family: to trust more fully in my heart's desire to follow curiosity, without expectation. I learnt, finally, to push my ego to the side and let go of my ideas of what things should be. The most genuine thing I can do to simply make a space for a family to be themselves, and then quietly bear witness to their loveliness, as mindfully as I would a flower, or any other thing of miraculous beauty.