Chance Meetings and Cherry Blossoms

My friend and I were in a park in Newtown, Sydney, wondering about the point of being a human photographer.

What’s artistic about standing behind a digital camera, which might even choose your shot for you? A new Samsung technology, for example, chooses the best shot and even takes it itself. How are we involved in the creative process here?

A man calls out to us.

“Two friends out photographing? No way!” He laughs. “I haven’t seen that in years. I used to do it with my mate at uni.”

He strolls over. It turns out Rod Sainty is an ex-geologist, and an expert architecture photographer. He asks us about our digital cameras and explains that he prefers film cameras, because they require you to plan your shot beforehand and think things through: film is expensive. Whereas with digital cams, you can afford to be hit-and-miss because the photos are stored on a sim card.

So digital storage allows for more practice, which is great for beginners like me! It also means that the digital photographer needs to be aware of their own creative participation, as anyone on the spectrum of existential crisis can appreciate. As well as knowing the technical side of things, photography is about being in the moment and imagining what you’re capturing and why. I think Rod was saying, it’s what you see, not just the camera.

On that note, he recommends choosing our interest area and focusing (get it) our photography on that. For example, he specialises in Islamic architecture photography because he wants to show the world another side of Islamic culture. What led him to this particular love? I wish I’d asked. All I know is his photos are stunning.

Rod’s work shows that specific technical expertise comes with having a particular focus. Best contact him yourself to find out how he made this photo while standing right in front of a 20+m building. It involved some thinking, is all I’m saying.

Two Days Later…

Many cameras are out at the Auburn Botanic Gardens cherry blossom walk. A Japanese flute plays in the atmosphere and we walk over bridges and step over stepping stones.

The cherry blossoms are their own world. Their scent is delicate and, like the lychee, is its own kind of beauty. I imagine it touching hearts in Japan. I imagine the qualities of a cherry blossom goddess.

We see one. Framed with pink flowers, the girl in the delicate white dress is at home here. Before we saw her sitting by the pool with her photographer friend. Before that, she was in a queue for tickets to get in here. Later, she emerges at the top of a stone staircase I’m aiming my camera at, fairy-like against dark hedges.

Across the stepping stone path, paper cranes wait on rocks for an older woman and her digital camera to make them a dream-portal. I imagine they’ll exist somewhere, on Facebook or someone’s actual wall; origami art backed with blue-blue Japanese lake.

The flute is shaped like a music speaker, and plays itself.

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