i) ANZAC Day
ANZAC Day was last month, a day in Australia where we remember all who have defended our country, those who have served and those who have fallen. My family and I attended the Newcastle ANZAC March, something that’s becoming a regular gig for us.
Last year we rushed to eat brekky, grumbled through getting dressed and moaned about walking in the rain. Whilst slopping through puddles to a good vantage point, a very young but highly decorated officer in uniform stopped me, gestured to my little girl and said “Thank you for coming and bringing your daughter. It means a lot to me”. Such a simple statement but it reduced me to tears as we walked away. I was filled with shame for whingeing about coming, yet his words instilled pride for our efforts. I felt a sad appreciation that our 10 minute car trip into town could be acknowledged as a such a meaningful act. When the parade started, I rolled off a couple of hundred shots in between smudging tears and rain from my camera and cheeks.
One of my favourite shots of the Newcastle ANZAC march isn’t of the service men and women marching by, but of my daughter overawed and nestled into her father, his arm protectively around her while she watches the parade.
This year I vowed to “keep it together” and acknowledge the Anzac marchers by catching their eye and clapping as they walked past. As we walked into Newcastle Mall, I admired the warm breath of Autumn in Newcastle, so lovely. I snapped a few shots as we moved: elderly servicemen on motorised scooters, women weighed down by family member’s medals, children skipping in the sunshine. The marchers lined up, patient but ready to go. The mood was light and cheery.
And then the parade started. Those currently serving marched first, led by an army band strong in stride and precise in movement. We respectfully clapped and I rolled out shots between troops. But as the March moved forward and the line continued, there was a subtle shift in mood. Eventually, age and experience slowed the march to a sombre pace. Lined faces told a bigger story and I took shot after shot. Inevitably, I cried for these people whose expressions were shadowed with memories of war and loss.
I put down the camera to wipe my eyes, sunglasses on and feeling quite frankly a little ridiculous. As a line of elderly gents walked past, the teary surge was unstoppable. I caught the eye of one serviceman; he marched past, closing his eyes as his bottom lip trembled. It was incredibly moving and I was reminded again of how simply ‘turning up’ can make a helluva difference and I was so very glad we did.
The photos I captured on ANZAC day are just for me. They are to remind me of those stories of the march I have just shared with you. They are my record, my visual reminder of moments in time, my connection to memory. For me, photography is both a passion and a necessity.
My love of photography is something I’ve shared in the past through my little self-indulgent blog Sunday Girl in Newie. I wrote Sunday Girl posts when I felt like it, when I had something to say, but those moments became fewer and further between; many drafted posts never saw the light of day because I didn’t feel I had the right images to visually articulate the story. Eventually I realised that whilst I created Sunday Girl for the joy of writing, it had become as much an excuse to take photos as anything else.
So here I am. Still sharing stories but through images as well as writing. Which brings me to this shot. Taken of my daughter at the end of a day at the beach.
This photo of my daughter won the Newcastle Herald Summer Photo Competition. To say I was surprised was an understatement, but at the same time it was a lovely and timely validation of the direction I was heading in my photography. This image earned me a new camera, lens kit and backpack. Fantastic!
The day I took this shot, my family and I had decided to spend the day at a beach. We packed up the car, towels, boogie boards, snacks, water bottles and sunscreen and drove the 30-40 minutes to Caves Beach, a beach we rarely visit. My daughter had never seen the caves at low tide so that urged us on. The addition of my camera to the beach bag was last-minute; I grabbed a plastic zip-loc bag for my digital SLR camera to keep the sand at bay.
Later in the day, post cave exploration, I was lying on my towel watching my girl play in the sand. I could tell she was tired, a little irritable, so I asked if she wanted food, a drink? She arrived at my side, covered in sand and with an expression I’ve seen many times before and most mothers will recognise. It’s a look that precedes the train-wreck that is a tired child.
As I made a grab for her water bottle I quickly took my camera out of its bag and, lying on my back, took this photo. The blue of the sky, her expression, the sand on her face, her freckles and the breeze blowing her salty curls was something I wanted to remember. She looked so beautiful in her dishevelled state. So I took the shot.
So my story and this new blog begins. I’m also hoping to share the work of some of my amazing family and friends who are much, much better photographers than me and whose work continues to inspire me.
Thanks for joining me today. I hope to see you here again.