My brain stores a lot of images, it’s a quasi portable media bank. When I study pictures of other photographers, I often make a mental note of the composition or the concept that the photographer may have used. I don’t use this to copy the work but it helps me to recognise possibilities in image making when I am out and about. So when I came across this image of pole fishermen in southern Sri Lanka this year, Steve McCurry’s famous photo wasn’t far from my mind.
It was a real thrill for me to be able to witness this scene. The photograph may lack the dynamic drama of McCurry’s work, but it serves to document my own experience of being there.
Weligama, Sri Lanka 2015
Photography, for me, doesn’t preserve memories, it creates them. There are of course events that I have photographed and in so doing, I have preserved that memory. But it is the act of making an image that has formed a lifelong memory of that exact moment. I am currently sorting through a large shoebox of old photographs and I am having flashbacks!
Looking at images I took, some going back more than 40 years, I can recall the exact moment I took a particular photo. A visual memory of a split second of my life. It is this powerful.
Remembering the mood of an actual event become more distorted as time passes, the truth of it becomes hazier. What remains unchanged for me as a photographer however is the exact moment of when I pressed the shutter. I remember where I was and why I took the photo. I know of no other medium that does this for me. Sounds and smells can also transport me to a particular time, however the experience is more fleeting.
I have always viewed art as a form of philosophy, a way to find meaning in life. Photography allows me to travel, meet people and experience new situations. Most of all, the camera gives me the ability to record time and space and create powerful memories.
Photo: Elwood, Melbourne, Australia 1981
Last year I spent one month hiking and photographing on Jeju Island in South Korea. I often leave the images sitting on my computer for a while before I make a final selection. I want to be able to detach my emotions from the place and time.