If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
' LISTEN TO THE MUSIC '
January 26, 2015 [ Australia Day ]
Life changed dramatically one night back in 1967 when I first heard The Beatles'Penny Lane' on the kitchen wireless.
The despised nightly ritual of drying the tea dishes with my sister was refreshingly broken by the sweetest sounds I'd ever heard. Unbridled joy smothered my mother's chastisement for dawdling, "...listen to this, I don't know what it means but it does something to me ... it's telling me something!"
True! A year later at the tender age of sixteen I headed for Sydney in search of that something.
Little could I have imagined that The Beatles had musically-forecast a pending life in visual arts & entertainment. That twenty years later Phil & Don Everly would introduce me to George Harrison. Or that thirty years later I'd stand before John Lennon's Memorial in New York's Central Park, a tribute to the sixty's prophet in the name of Penny Lane's flip-side, 'Strawberry Fields Forever'.
It was solemn remembrance, not just for a childhood hero, but for that life-changing moment back home in the kitchen, and the journey that John Lennon and his mates had launched me upon.
By my own humble admission I've led an extremely fortunate life, one with more than my share of personal and professional highlights, but one certainly not without its counterbalancing lowlights.
On the personal side I'm proud to be born a country kid, and as life panned out, seemed destined to eventually boomerang back to those earthy roots. After an upbringing in the Hunter Valley mining town of Cessnock, and a decade or so of romping in the city wilds of Sydney & Newcastle, a six-month sailing adventure through the Great Barrier Reef showed me the green light.
Not long after in 1986, wife Barbara, young son Jesse and I found a new valley and more natural lifestyle on the southern end of Queensland's Gold Coast. Our little princess Shani arrived two years later. Three decades on, two have flown the nest to chase their own adventures and the other two are still here in Currumbin Valley, and loving it more than ever.
Career-wise it's been dynamic to say the least. Early Xmas presents of a Kodak Starflash camera and a pair of Red-headed Gouldian Finches would decades later pave destiny to high-definition video production for some of the most highly-regarded natural history commissioners in the world. Cameras have been very kind to me, attracting assignments for the likes of BBC Natural History, National Geographic, and Discovery. They've taken me to all corners of the planet. Put me face-to-face with polar bear, cobra, orangutan & rhino, and some pretty special human species too. They've brought to life childhood dreams I thought only existed in Time-Life Books.
But as a famous Australian once said"life wasn't meant to be easy", and on the downside there have been many challenges too.
Due to a sudden avalanche of health issues in 2010, my lowlights reached as low as the highs did high. In a fleeting moment all that had gone before me and all that lay ahead was put on what would become a five-year hold. But in Forrest-style "that's all I've got to say about that" , for its full glory is a story for another time, maybe.
The only reason for raising what I unaffectionately label my 'years of mortality' here and now is that they would become the driving force, motivation & impetus behind 'Lomas'. Its a time in my life that I at first felt best forgotten. But like the phoenix, out of ashes comes life, and in time I realised that as painful as the experience was, it had use, purpose and was better remembered.
Its not until such sudden and unexpected trauma - when the past seems pointless, the future clouded - that one so clinically dissects their own life. Where it's been. Where it's at. And where it's headed. It's too easy to muse, "... is that it?". Untold self-reprimand & determination is needed to turn negativity back into positivity, to reject self-pity and accept reality, go with the flow and just get on with what you've got. For a time the fright of my life dented optimism but not mindset. 'Life should be meant to be easy' I argued with myself. So what I decided I wanted to do most was everything I'd promised to do ... "one day!".
"If not now, when, if ever?" became a constant companion, and pushed me along an untravelled path in search of that most-wanted. I could no longer climb mountains or cross rivers laden with camera gear. Almost everything I knew & loved most was no longer an option, or so I thought. I refused to let go, denied that life as I'd known it could slip by so easily & quickly, and started looking for options.
During the next five years of searching, every saying, expression & quote, read, watched or heard, seemed to be personally-directed.Treat every day as your last. Live life to the fullest. Money can't by happiness. Follow your heart. Then out of the blue bombardment 'every picture tells a story' and 'a picture tells a thousand words', familiar sayings that with new framing suddenly took on new meaning.
In my travels I'd collected many pictures, moving & still, along with just as many adventure stories to go with them. All were still cocooned in shoeboxes, all unprocessed, all doing nothing but waiting for rebirth. Maybe 'one day' had arrived. Here was the first seed for the genesis of the new 'Lomas' but not the fruit. It was only half the oracle, and some other dormant seed also needed awakening.'Learn what you should be doing and do it ', a Buddhist quote courtesy of Billy Connolly got me closer. 'Clever enough to conquer the world, smart enough not to try' hit a similar mark. Cryptic and comfortably Zen, but still no blinding enlightenment on exactly what 'most wanted' was. At least they were helping cull what it wasn't.
Maybe due to the addictive nature of photography, the passion it spawns in me, and the special moments & success I'd become used to, life for me had always been about ambition, challenges, goals, success. But while mandatory for the professional, such blinkered ideals too often rob one of the simpler more personal pleasures in life.
Looking back to foresee what might lay ahead, I found myself not only wallowing in the treasured moments but also the regrets. The things I'd missed out on, left behind. Too many ideas, not enough action. Vows still unfulfilled decades later. Best friends not seen in thirty years. Family with whom I should have spent more time. The promises of the dreamer, sanguine promises never to see light. Certainly thoughts spawned by my years of mortality and self-pity, so maybe forgivable, but nevertheless fact, real, true, and bitter to swallow.
Certainly it has been a fortunate life packed with exotic travel, privileged encounters and prized trophies, and if misfortune had dived to its darkest depths I would have embarked on a final journey happy & satisfied. Thankfully that wasn't necessary but the inescapable reality remained. Obsession with past and future had blinded me to the present. On one hand fortune had given, on the other taken.
Pretty much a lone wolf, I was happiest hunting alone in the instinctive way I'd always done. Photography for me is much like hunting, success reliant upon a quiver of special skills & instincts. Intimately knowing your prey, its territory, and its habits. Recognising tracks, trails & signs. Awareness. Prediction. Patience. Anticipation. Knowing where to lay in ambush, when to strike. Awareness of the thirty-two senses upon which we've always depended, too many now lost or forgotten.
Now though I found I'd changed perspective, was a lone wolf of a different kind, reformed and awakened if you like. After a long and quite successful hunt, I now longed to return to the pack. No longer could I hunt alone, and to be completely honest, no longer did I want to.
Senses awoke to tell me that something else was close by. Two minds crossed, two paths collided, and a new dreaming magically appeared. I was always a staunch believer that 'photography teaches to see', and in a moment of clarity yin & yang defined the essence of Lomas' new life! The time had come to share those adventures & lessons, to give something back.
Nature and the art & craft it inspires has molded my fortune. Through photography I've been privileged to see nature at work from many angles, to marvel close-up at its its intricacy, be entranced by its simplicity, learn first-hand not what you need but what little you need.
In my time of utmost need it healed, rejuvenated, and led me to rebirth. When called upon for guidance it didn't just offer easy solution but sent me in search of my own, to discover it for myself. It instilled respect & appreciation for the wonder of life and, most thankfully, was the teacher that taught me to not just look but to see !
As it has done for me, it can do the same for all, no matter make, model, age or condition. I feel for those, especially the youth of today, who are yet to find their path in life. Those who due to the age of innocence are yet to collect worldly experience and need a helping hand to find their way.
Amidst the distractions, complexities and compromise enforced by a changing world it is understandable that in their eyes opportunities are blurred, almost invisible. They're there I believe in even more abundance than they ever were, so there's a dutiful role in helping to make them more visible.
I'm hoping that the love of nature & photography that was implanted in me many moons ago can be implanted in others to enlighten, inspire, and help them find their own niche and destiny.
That by going back to basics, seeing & understanding nature, being refreshed by it, and following its example, the teacher will open eyes and minds to replicate resilience, persistence and never-say-die determination.
And I'm hoping that those pathways, that awareness & hope, may be discovered & nurtured through my pictures , my storytelling & my dreaming.