Reflection

Charlene journal

June 2014, Fremantle, Western Australia. On the night train. I had a chat with Christian Fletcher and Carwyn Church this morning, for a Light Minded podcast episode! I was surprised to find myself talking about missing Australia. When I left Oz, I was pretty sure I’d never return. But i spent 14 formative years there. Perth, Western Australia, was where I learned to be an adult, learned to be a photographer, learned to work through fear, learned what I rock (and suck) at, and how to do a bunch of things for myself. Oh and make friends – that’s a big one for a hermit. WA was where I learned about the bush, about going walkabout (a lesson I took properly to heart), and all …

On Sunsets

Charlene journal

Kurdistan, Iraq I went out this weekend past with my video rig, intending to shoot video. Only video. That lasted all of 2 minutes. Too many opportunities to capture good stills. Video is part of my work, and I really enjoy using a camera for motion. Capturing movement in a frame is still a novelty and point of fascination. It’s fun to film. But I don’t think like a video person. I’m learning how to, because it’s what i do in the field, but my hunger is for a well framed, lit and composed still picture. That one sublime moment that must exist in any running situation. Some of this has to do with personality, and some with history. I’m the sort of person that …

A taste of divinity

Charlene journal

Kurdistan, Iraq It was crisp and chilly up in the mountains. The roads, all but empty. The sun, a many pointed star through my lens, shone off snow on the mountain tops. There was a point at which I felt as though I was face to face with those white peaks. But no, i was simply being swallowed by their magnitude. Chronologically, this photo happened a day before the ones in the last post. But the moment remains eternal.

The definition of joy

Charlene journal

Kurdistan, Iraq Road, mountains, light. Feeling in the depth of your marrow, your place in the world. However momentarily.

Snow

Charlene journal

Kurdistan, Iraq It began with a cold snap and a massive snow storm on Friday. We woke up to a sparkling white world on Saturday. All over the city, people came out to play in, with, and around the snow.

Winterscape

Charlene journal

Kurdistan, Iraq Cloud, mountain, tree line; all crystal, like the air in my mouth. Winter in Kurdistan. X-T3, XF 16-80mm F4

Signs of war

Charlene journal

May 2019, somewhere in central Iraq. A main street from the safety of the car. This is a continuation from the last post. This is the town on one bank of the Tigris River, where we started/ended our boat ride. It was shuttered shop fronts and bullet riddled walls. Barbed wire and blast walls. Crumbled edges and rogue rebar. It was one of the last to be liberated from ISIS, and signs of destruction are everywhere still. People still live here. Humanity persists, for all of its reasons.

Rocket ship

Charlene journal

May 2019, Iraq The picture above was a 2019 highlight: crossing the mighty Tigris River in a small wooden boat with my teammates Chelsea and Ihsan. We were on a field trip, documenting Preemptive Love’s medical relief programs around a chunk of Iraq. Ihsan, the genial Dr Mustafa (a doctor in one of the many clinics around Iraq that my organization supported after the war with ISIS) and our partner in the next boat were racing to catch up with Chelsea’s and mine, when they hit a big wave, right after this frame. All 3 shot half a metre into the air, and hung there for an ETERNITY, before thumping back down again. Gah! All landed safely, if a little hard, back in the boat. …

The Challenge of True Solitude | Brian Bolster

Charlene journal

This is one of the most beautiful short films I’ve ever watched, made by filmmaker Brian Bolster. Magnificent in its still, poetic frames, spare narrative, and quiet, spacious edits, it’s a gorgeous telling of Oceanic Hotel winter caretaker Alexandra de Steiguer’s story, and the draw of living in an empty hotel in a weather lashed island, during the cold. I’ve watched it around 15 times at this point, over the course of a couple of years. Every viewing reveals something more about the story. Absolutely worth 15 minutes of your time.

81

Charlene journal

Singapore If my dad was alive, he’d be 81 today. He probably wouldn’t be making annual pilgrimages to the South China Sea to catch marlin anymore, the way he used to when I was a kid. He often told me, in his later years, that he didn’t have the strength / endurance to do sport fishing anymore. Enjoyed talking about it though. And still going fishing with his buddies for the table variety of fish: tenggiri, selar, grouper, ang zho (respectively: spanish mackeral, yellowtail scad, cod, red snapper) etc. He’d also object strenuously to all of the Christmas and Chinese New Year baubles that Mum and I have taken to hanging on the big fibreglass marlin that still hangs in the living room. One does …