the lucky moment

Watching our children exploring in the rock pools is one of my greatest joys. It is the place I go to when I am asked to close my eyes and think of a happy place.  Photograph by Emma Byrnes

Watching our children exploring in the rock pools is one of my greatest joys. It is the place I go to when I am asked to close my eyes and think of a happy place. 
Photograph by Emma Byrnes

I think in pictures.

I am constantly squinting at scenes before me, subconsciously applying the rule of thirds.

I started taking photos when I was 10. I was given a Kodak camera for xmas and immediately fell in love with the satisfying click and the sound as I manually advanced the film. As time passed I realised that taking photos allowed me as a shy person to be right up close to the action without having to play a central part. Participating but slightly removed, hiding behind the lens.

My sister became my main muse – she would dress up in her fineries and we’d venture into our garden – she would pick flowers, ride her bike, do handstands. I would savour the light, the colours, every movement, intensely watching, waiting for the right moment to commit to film. I was so keenly observing the dynamics at play, seeing which direction she was moving and when she would hit a particular light spot within a certain frame.

And then, with a sixth sense, even before it had arrived, I would see that special instant flash before me. It was so exhilarating when the timing was just right. The buzz I would get from the perfect capture in those days before digital photography. And the trepidation as I wound that unseen image on, poised for the next lucky moment.

Then the patient wait for the processing would begin…taking pot luck with my pocket money budget on these unknown masterpieces/failures…wondering if the pictures would come out just as I had seen them in my mind’s eye or whether they would be foggy or - as often happened in the early days - have a thumb sticking right over one corner.

When I was 12 years old I took photography classes every Saturday with a group of adults at the local arts centre. It was there that I first experienced the musty, funky magic of the darkroom and learnt the ins and outs of an SLR camera. Not only did this time consolidate my love for photography, it also gave me confidence as my images held their own alongside those of my older peers.

Over the ensuing years I continued to carry my camera with me almost everywhere I went and eventually studied photojournalism at Charles Sturt University.

Digital photography has arrived since then and despite my initial resistance I am now a complete convert. One of the main reasons I converted to digital is that as well as being a lover of photographic imagery I love sharing stories. Social media lets me paint a picture of what I see before me and develop a story around my sense of place. It’s what I did with Harvest Textiles. I have never worked primarily as a photographer but have always used it in my work life and private life to enhance my experiences and the way I interact with the world. At Harvest I was able to put my photography skills to very good use. I was constantly inspired by the colour and designers in our studio and I spent a lot of time documenting the daily activity and the people who came through the door, using our blog, flickr, instagram and website.

I’m excited about my new project, Heartland, because it will give me a chance to exercise my skills even further, through collaborations and projects. There are a few already in the pipeline, so do stay tuned and all will be revealed - in good time!

Em x