“The simpler you make an image, the easier it is to read” ~Mike Langford
My image Circles and Lines, just came in at 7th place in the Mono Awards 2022 Places category—Australia and New Zealand’s biggest competition dedicated to the art of monochrome photography. I am especially stoked as this is a comp open to both amateur photographer’s like me as well as professionals. Huge congratulations to all the other amazing photographers who have finished in the Top 40 including some very special friends and mentors. You know who you are. Thank you for all your encouraging words along my journey, and for believing in me. I am thrilled to share this platform and the joy with all of you.
There were three categories to choose from in this competition—People, Places and Animals. I decided to test the waters with two of my architecture images. The other image was commended. Despite my engineering background, I had always found architecture a genre I struggled to connect with. Unlike people or places with whom and where I could find instant connection (or not) I just didn’t know where to start. Last year I started a PSA course in creating winning images that forced me to dance in areas that were outside my comfort zone. I learnt there was a lot of overlap in each genre and that it was useful to practice ‘seeing’ and image making in each of these.
I started my architecture photography journey inside buildings, looking for emotive connections that would stimulate both my senses and those of a viewer. I looked for spaces that spoke to my love for symmetry and balance. I searched for beautiful textures and biophiilic design that would bring the outside in, and recreate our lost connection with nature. I found that many of images looked better in monochrome, as it distilled the busy and messy to the sharp contrasts and tonal gradations between black and white.
There are many architectural images to be had in the QVB building in Sydney but capturing them devoid of people was always going to be a struggle. Inspired by Escher’s exploration of geometry and symmetry, I came here just after lockdown ended. I wanted to focus the attention of the viewer on the curving staircase that takes one down several levels as well as the beautiful fine work of the stained glass window. It is an image that asks you to keep exploring, moving your eye both up and down and creating a sense of movement in an image that is still.
The magazine says that this year the number of entries eclipsed last year’s by 40% and the quality and diversity were impressive. My email said the standard of entries in 2022 was the highest in the four-year history of the competition. But competitions in art are always subjective. Unlike a maths exam, there is no right and wrong even when the genre is black and white! But I am especially proud of this image as it recently won a Gold award and Best of Show in an international exhibition (Coachella 2022). I feel a little reassured then that perhaps this is not a fluke.
Finally a word of thanks to the 12 industry experts, all masters of different genres who were part of the judging. I don’t know all of you, but I am keen to explore your work now! I was especially inspired by what Jackie Ranken said. “Being captivated by the content within a photographic frame is fundamentally more important than the technique that was used to make that image. But without a thorough base knowledge of technique there is no control. If all we see when looking at an image is the technique then that is a kind of failure too.” Mike Langford mentions that the learning never stops. I have certainly found this in my photographic journey, especially as I started on this path late in life. Will I have enough years left to be the best I can be? Only time will tell. I have realised as Mike said, that when you start to get knowledge, you learn how much you don’t know. I think that is what has always excited me about everything I’ve done in life but especially in photography. There is always more to discover.
“Only those who attempt the absurd...will achieve the impossible. I think ...I think it's in my basement...Let me go upstairs and check.” ~M.C. Escher