Christmas Present: Recharged (my) batteries

Image by Brian Brake

Apologies for the long silence on my site – I’ve been travelling in New Zealand for the past 6 weeks and thought I’d have more time / energy to devote to the site.  I’ve recently quit my job as a management consultant and am taking time off to travel and reflect before looking for work sometime in 2011.  My time here in New Zealand has been full of outdoor fun – hiking, kayaking, surfing, etc and I’ve read more books in the last few weeks than in the last few years.

Surprisingly, the one thing I haven’t done much is photography.  Or at least photography in the sense of the thoughtful, more intentional work that I have been trying to do more of over the past year.  I’ve done the standard tourist images to document my trip – but haven’t taken the slow, thoughtful time to make images that I’m proud of.  But I’m okay with that.

The beauty of not trying to make a living with photography is that I can let it come and go based on how I feel.  When I’m excited about something, I can shoot it.  When I’m not, I can just put the camera down – something I’m doing more and more often.  Which brings to mind one of my favourite Jay Maisel quotes:   “If it doesn’t excite you, this thing that you see, why in the world would it excite me?” – a useful thought to have go through your head before you press the shutter.

I’m spending a quiet Christmas in Wellington – and today went exploring at one of the few open attractions – the Te Papa museum.  The thing that really got my creative juices flowing today was a special exhibition on the work of New Zealand photographer Brian Brake.  I’ll admit I haven’t studied the work of enough photographers – so, he was new to me.  Given his work was featured in Life  and National Geographic – I’m guessing the more knowledgeable have heard of him.

There were a handful of images that reminded me of what I’ve started to love in photography: The chance to capture a fleeting moment in time – one that contains a slice of human emotion.  The lead photograph of this post was my favourite of the exhibition.  It would be a happy 2011 if I can make just one image that is even close to as good as that one.  It may be hard to tell from the small image (the largest I could find online), but it has everything.  The child’s face – wanting a goldfish for himself, the father’s face – a lingering smile at his child’s desire, but a clear pull at the arm that is trying to get the child to move on.  The thing that seals the greatness of the picture for me is that the boy is tack sharp, as he isn’t moving, but there is a slight motion blur in the father and the people in the background.  It emphasises the father’s tug on the child even more and adds an element of movement to this slice of time.

The photograph got me excited to start making images again – a bit of a Christmas present to me from the late Mr. Brake himself.

Happy holidays and good luck recharging your photographic batteries!


I haven’t had much luck finding Brian Brake’s work online, except for Te Papa’s website.

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