What Stories Do You Want to Tell?
Most great images are a reflection of artists. We look at the worker or a photograph, and we can almost, you know, I've heard you tell me in the past, and a lot of people don't realize this, Pete. And I'm gonna tell everybody on national live tv, that when people talk about inspirations and where you started, the truth is, 'cause he is older than me, of course, I was inspired in landscape. My very first inspirational shot was from Peter. And he probably forgot this, but I was one of the very few people he sent one of those books to that he talked about earlier. (laughing) Did you remember that?
Good. (laughing) So, but one of the things I learned from those early days was when I looked at pictures that I really liked and great landscape images, I could see the artist, I could see the signature of the artist. You know, we talk about people like Ken Duncan, which is an Australian photographer many of you know. We talk about Art Wolfe, (humming) Jack Dykinga. We talk abo...
ut, you got Eddie Ephraums, there's a style to his work. You talk about Ansel Adams, there was a style to his work. We see the artist in the image. I see you. In so many of your pictures, there's a style. Most Australians who know Peter's work will look at a photograph and go "That looks like a Peter Eastway." And nine times out of 10, they're probably right.
Let's hope so. (laughing)
So most great images are a reflection of the artist. It's about their individual personalities, their personal vision. We've got an audience here. They're all individuals, they're all different. You could go to the same place at the same time. We've experienced this with MD5.
And that's the question, I suppose, that, over the years that I worked, well, still work, in photography magazines, where I'm going around, and I'm interviewing all of the legends of photography that I want to meet, and you know, work out what they did, yeah, I used to ask them questions about, you know, where did your ideas come from, how do you plan, how you create a style. And I think where you're leading to is that it's a matter of being involved and continually doing it and practicing with knowledge. And this is, I think, what you're trying to show us, is how you have created your style from--
With a body of knowledge.
Well, from a body of works, but also, I think--
And I drag that knowledge out through words.
Yeah, so everybody is going to have a different way of expressing themselves, and that's what makes us all individual. That's why I've had some friends of ours say that our photographs look similar, but that was mainly.
After the shot, by exhibition.
So we are always photographing the same stuff. 'Cause, yeah, we're quite different. But I forgot what I was going to say now. I've just had a completely blank mind, but what was I going to say? That we're quite different. But we come from completely different viewpoints, and different people need to express things in a different way. So, you know, I say he's the touchy-feely, and I'm this ice-cold sort of bloke, and that's just different ways, different personalities. But there's still the passion and the personality.
And you do have a heart, mate.
That comes through with the photographs, yeah.
Anyone says you don't have, I disagree; you have a heart. It's a big heart, you just don't know what to do with it.
Oh, thanks Dan.
Alright, enough of that crap.
So where were you going? (laughing)
But you know, at the end of the day, with your own photography, the only thing that you can be, just that's unique, 'cause we're all chasing, we all want to photograph. You know, we were talking in the break with one of our audience, and saying "I go to these places, and for a while "I didn't want to take the photos that everybody else took. "But then I realized I needed to from a business, "and then my challenge was how do I take that shot "that everyone else takes, but in a different way?" The only thing that we can present to the rest of the world through our imagery that is truly unique has to come from inside. If it comes from the outside, it can't be unique. 'Cause if it's coming from a download, if it's coming from a tutorial, if it's coming from someone else's technique, it can be copied.
Yeah, or a plug-in that you buy, or a switch in an Instagram, yeah.
Absolutely! And when you talk about creativity, creativity can't be downloaded. It's not internet. No, not the sort of creativity that I'm interested in, at any rate.
No, exactly! So at the end of the day, we get to a point where we need to be asking ourselves what do I want my pictures to say. What stories am I trying to tell? And when I say stories, they don't have to have big, long narratives, yeah.
Okay, I was going to ask you about that, 'cause does it have to be a story, or could it just be a single word that you wanted--
It could just be an impact. It's what do you, it could just be about wow, look at the color of this. And it doesn't have to have any other purpose other than wow, look at the color of that.
But that then becomes your starting point for everything you do afterwards in post-production.
Correct, that's right! So having a reason, like I'm going to add saturation. Why? Because when I stood there, I didn't notice anything else other than the color. So if you go to Yellowstone and you go to (humming) the big gayser, the big geyser, gayser, geyser. (laughing) You say potato, I say potato, whatever.
The big bloke.
The one, and it's so, what's it called, a cyclo--
No, no, the, (humming)
We need help here. You can see that we've been--
This crystal, whatever. I've gone blank! Sorry? (murmuring) Anyway, there's a very large geyser pool, up at Yellowstone. (murmuring) Prismatic pool! Thank you, that's the one! (laughing) And it's got these beautiful oranges, to yellows, to reds, to greens. It's absolutely beautiful color! And even though when you're standing there sometimes the background can be a little distracting, you just can't take your eyes off the color and the texture. And if you're lucky, you get that little bit of, well, you get a lot of that sort of misty steam comin' off. That's all about color. (humming) So when you stand, and you go away, and you start looking at your files, even if they looked a bit flat, you almost feel impelled, or compelled, to bring out the color, because that's what it felt like.
And so suddenly you have a purpose in your post-production. And the question of what do I do in post-production you're answering yourself, because you've got an opinion or a desire to make a statement with the photograph that you have. So it's, again, that word, color, or feeling, or emotion, or it was cold.
What was the point that grabbed you?
Or something more involved, like your poetry, like your prose, and you're just taking it a step further.
To gauge, to engage the heart side, to engage the emotion, to sorta say okay, my brain saw this, and the camera captured this, now I need somebody else to contribute to what we're going to produce. Heart, can buy in on this? Okay, well, the heart doesn't talk in mathematical terms. The heart talks in flowery, poetic terms, so out it comes, and that's the way I work. I say alright heart, what do you got to say to this. And it'll get all fluffy and soft, and then I put all of that on the table and they work together. That's the idea. There was a movie about that.
I'm sure. (laughing)
There was. So you know, what stories do you want to tell? And really, when it comes down to what stories you want to tell, then it's why photography, what does it mean to you. What's photography for you, Peter? What is photography for you?
Photography is my art; it's my expression.
It's what I want to show. I mean, I take it because I want to look at it and enjoy it. And while I said originally that I can't compel other people to like it. And I do like it when other people do like it. But since I have no control over that, I just do what makes me happy and then hope other people are happy too. So that's what art, that's what photography is to me, it's an expression.
And photography for everybody is going to be slightly different. For some, for a mother with three kids, it can be just I just wanna record my family.
And maybe that's the expression that's different, then, isn't it, yeah?
And the purpose for taking a photograph.
Why are you picking up the camera? Why are you choosing to photograph these things? What is it for you? Because it's different for everybody.
And we say that, we take people on workshops, and we take them to locations, and most of 'em will shoot the sorta things we say "Look, that's what we're here for." There's always one or two that'll wander off.
Very annoying when they come back with photos better than ours! (laughing)
That's right! And we go "Well, where did you get that?!" "Oh, just behind the bus." (laughing) (humming) "But what about what we?!" And then you look at it and you're going "Yeah, that's pretty good, actually."
Yeah, it's a worry, isn't it?
So when we come back, we'll point that out.
Yep, to our new guests, and pretend it was our idea.
Yeah! (laughing) So, you know, I had an image like this one, and this is just a sandbar in the Northwest of Australia, and that's the color of the water. But the sandbar itself was probably not quite so vivid and contrasty. But looking down, I knew that I was looking down on a part of our planet; there's one of the oldest geological areas of the Earth, in the northwest of Western Australia. And I looked down, and all I could see was the beating heart. That's all I could see was the beating heart of this part of the world. So the point of that is that as I looked at that, and felt that, and I made a couple a notes about that. When I did the post-production, I wanted that to look a bit more like a heart, so that people got that. So I brought out the blues and the reds that were already there a little bit more so it kind of looked like the colors of a heart. And it gave people at lease some understanding of why I took the photograph. So photography, for me, is a means for me to share the way I feel about what I'm looking at.