Sydney harbour, and the area around Circular Quay in particular, is a special place to me. In a word, it’s all about connectedness. It’s a transportation hub, of course, helping to connect the city’s shores, but for me the sense of connection goes much deeper than that.
When I was growing up, money was tight, and with four children to feed, my parents never got to travel overseas, despite my mother’s strong interests in other cultures and countries. She often said that she wished that she had been able to travel. Her sadness was palpable and left a real impression on me; it spurred me on to take advantage of every travel opportunity that came along, beginning with the chance to study at Sydney Uni for a year as an exchange student in 1990. During my time at uni, the harbour became one of my favourite places to escape from my worries, chill out and watch the world go by. Naturally, I usually had a camera with me as well, and some of my earliest cityscapes and seascapes were taken in this very area. I have always wished that my mother could see it for herself, but my photos and stories would have to do. In a sense I felt like I was there because she never could be.
But my mother didn’t just instill in me a desire to travel, she also encouraged my photography and even recommended my first camera, a Nikon N2020, the very camera that I had with me during my year in Sydney. In July of that same year I turned 21, and to mark that milestone birthday, my parents splurged on a 70-210mm zoom lens, my first telezoom. The shipping from the States cost almost as much as the lens, which itself wasn’t cheap at the time, but my parents knew how much photography meant to me even then, and they wanted to make sure that I had the equipment to pursue it.
My time in Sydney was brief, and when I returned to the States in December of that year, I never imagined that I would return to Australia, never mind become an Australian citizen. Looking back, I couldn’t have imagined back then just how important travel and photography would become in my life, but today I can see that my incredible life’s journey all really started here, on the shores of this amazing harbour, with a camera in my hand.
I took this photo in August of 2015, just days after learning that my mother had inoperable cancer and probably just days to live. I took this photo for her, and though she didn’t live long enough to see it, she was in my heart and in my mind when I took it. I could feel her there with me. Connected.