Photography, like most other artistic activities, was once only practiced by the elite. To do something solely for the purpose of creating, one needed to invest not only time but money; two things that the working class had precious little of to spare. This changed slightly with the invention of roll film and handheld cameras but not drastically. It wasn’t until the medium became mechanized, and the average Joe could take their exposed film to someone to get it developed and printed by a machine in one hour, that photography became a hobby of the masses. Then digital cameras were invented and photography became even easier for people to play with. As the years and technology advanced cameras got smaller, cheaper and eventually have been incorporated into every phone, device and electronic gadget out there. Photography has evolved from a purely artistic endeavour, to a profession, to a hobby, to an everyday/everybody activity.
I mention this because yesterday, as we motored down the Diamond Narrows inside the Vona Vona Lagoon we passed by a well-kept house with a sprawling front yard that fronted the water. In the garden was the large Solomon Island family that lived there; the adults sitting in the shade of a big tree and the kids playing on a rope swing that swung out over the water. As the name implies the waterway we were navigating wasn’t particularly wide so we were virtually in their front yard. As usual when we pass other boats or people onshore we smiled and waved and said “Halo!” We were greeted by wide smiles and enthusiastic waves . I wanted to take a photo as their property was well kept and their house brightly painted, in fact I had my camera in my hand, but now that they were all looking in our direction it felt intrusive.
In the South Pacific radio is still used as one of the main means of communicating with the local population. There is often death announcements, notices about power and water interruptions, flight information and, of course, weather bulletins. Local businesses use radio to advertise specials and promote services and if there is a local paper it usually provides the news that is read almost hourly. Although there is information that tourist might find useful, the audience for radio in the South Pacific is definitely the locals.
That’s why I make a point to listen in.
Last week I heard about the new cargo dock that is being constructed in Port Vila. It is a multimillion dollar project that is going to take almost two years to complete and will result in one of the most sophisticated, full computerized docks in the Southern Hemisphere. It took six years of negotiations between the Vanuatu government, Japanese and Australian investors and the Chief whose people own the land, amongst others, to reach an agreement. In celebration of the start of construction of the this much needed facility a ground breaking ceremony was planned and the local radio was covering the event. Continue reading
I started traveling in the pre-digital era. There was no Facebook or Instagram, almost no one carried a phone and internet cafes, when you could find them, worked on dial-up. It was also pre-digital photography, so documenting the places I had journeyed far and wide to see meant lugging some heavy equipment, insisting rolls of film hand inspected at airports and searching for places to develop negatives and print photos.
Everywhere I have traveled I have had one, or two, film cameras with me. By bus, train, plane, boat and motorbike my cameras were with me. Throughout Asia, across Australia, around the Caribbean, into the sands of the Middle East my cameras were with me. And now, on this grand adventure on board Kate, despite owning a pocket digital, a digital SLR and having a smartphone to take happy snaps with, I still carry around a couple old school manual film cameras.
I admit they don’t come out as often as they should. Continue reading
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