I’ve been quite fascinated with the old Farmers Carpark across the road from my work place in the city ever since I serendipitously discovered the photographic opportunities it provides earlier in July this year. This carpark was built in the 1950s and served as the carpark for what could be the most prestigious store in New Zealand at that time, Farmers. The carpark consists of two buildings connected by multiple bridges on each level, linking one building to another.
The highlight for me is the stairwell that rises from the middle of the roof top level, the corresponding stairwell on the other side and the industrial look of the building. As a bonus, the Art Deco Farmers store which is now the Heritage Hotel and a wall of interesting buildings serve as backdrop to two sides of the carpark.
Most of the time, I visit the carpark at lunchtime as it is generally when I do my photo walks. Given I don’t have much of choice of what time I can visit the carpark, I make do with the angle of the sun and try and find my shots. However, what has always been a little disappointing to me is the large number of cars that park at this busy carpark. In my mind, I see two shots, both of the industrial stairwell. The first shot is a clean view of the stairwell without any cars and the second, the stairwell with a single classic car by the side.
I thought I break the cycle of workweek afternoon shots by cycling over this Saturday morning in the hope of a empty carpark before 8am. These are the result of my morning’s effort. I did not get the shots I was after but they are a record of what could be. I enjoyed being the only person in the carpark. Like a pencil holding rebel, I cycled up and down the bridges, going the opposite way, up and down the bridges connecting the two buildings. That hour of solitude composing the shots the way I want with no fear of my subjects looking up was very peaceful and nice. Great way to end a tough week.
The above shots come straight out of the camera with slight tweaks with levels and cropping. This was my favourite shot. I did another edit using the raw file which was brighter but somehow the grungier and dark version seems more apt.
Social media is sometimes portrayed as evil. A place for people to seek the approval of the world or lose themselves in the lives of others. However, it is can also be a place to learn, be inspired and maybe, contribute to the general pool of positivity. In this world of social media, I have migrated from Facebook to instagram. I find that instagram allows me to be inspired by the photography of others in a positive mindset.
In this big wide world of instagram, I’ve connected with people close and far. Lorenzo (originally from The Phillipines) who lives in Singapore together and Richard who lives in Auckland, New Zealand are some of the few friends I’ve made online. While online friendships like pen pals from days of old enrich outlives beyond instagram likes, nothing beats a handshake and a chat over coffee or food. I tried to meet Lorenzo when I went back to Singapore in 2019 but the birth of his first child meant that he was back in The Phillipines when I was in Singapore. A little disappointing but hopefully in a post covid world we can connect in real life (IRL).
On a more positive note, I caught up with Richard for lunch today, connecting him also with my friend Carlo. We met at Ponsonby Food Court for lunch on a pre daylight saving Saturday afternoon. Almost similar to a blind date scenario, us two grown men were sending messages on instagram to make the “date” and provide descriptions of what we’re wearing or caring to help with the identification. And no, there was no yellow or red rose on the lapel. I did however were a bright yellow T-shirt. The three of us had a very good lunch, sharing our interests in photography, taking about gear; why it does not matter and what our current approach to photography is. I also tried to explain poorly why I share a lot of my shots on instagram stories rather than the more permanent regular posting. I don’t think I understand my intentions well enough to convince myself or anyone.
Following lunch, Carlo headed off to town while Richard and I walked along Ponsonby Road talking about what catches our eyes when we walk with a photographer’s mindset. I’ve never done a photo walk before. Photography is generally an exercise I do alone. I go into my zone and I physically disengage from the world as I enter in a singular existence with the classic chrome world around me. It was a new experience for to share photography insights with Richard as we walk. I was so keen to share with him the parts of my neighbourhood that I hunt for shots at and hear what he thought of it. Richard was busy shooting away and I played the part of the support crew, making his shooting “professional” and “legitimate”.
Just past halfway down Ponsonby Road, we talked about shooting people and how being brave can reap rewards. We discussed how we want to capture people and not make it a point to not intrude into their personal time and space. While we love interesting characters, we also discussed how we would avoid shooting people who are interesting because of the situation they find themselves in. Yes, there maybe a documentary aspect to photographing such scenes. But I personally struggle to justify the scene.
Shortly after parting ways with Richard, I walked past a scene that looked very interesting. I took the following two shots.
I love how the person was hidden in this scene. But as I walked up to there person, I found him with his head in his hands. He could be tired or sad. I don’t know because all I did was take a photo of him. I’m ashamed to say that I did not step up to ask him if everything was ok. I found many reasons to not reach out. I’m not going to post the photo I took of him. From a photographic stand point, I thought the photo was really good. But I rather write about my inability to connect after glorifying my efforts of connection above.
This is the reason I call my site Good Intentions. I do want to do go. I do want to be a better person. But sometimes all my efforts remain good intentions.
Working from home can be a liberating time. Some people relish the focus that working without the disturbance of colleagues. To mix things up, I’m catching up with my team one on one, giving us a chance to step away from the office to get some fresh air and a good feed. Today is a little special. I’m taking the ferry over to Devonport to meet Michael. It is a short 15 min ferry ride but there is definitely something special about going “over seas”.
At this stage, you would think I would have some photos of the ferry or the Waitemata Harbour that we crossed. Sorry. I’ve got photos of the ferry terminal. I love how the yellow contrasts boldly with the light and shadow in the early morning light.
In my early 20’s and 30’s it was easy to live life large. As time goes by, I realised that I am at my best when I pay attention to my mental and physical well being. It took time to discover the approach that works best for me.
Initially yoga was the easiest introduction to a balanced life. Vinyasa yoga, as introduced to me by wonderful friends, pairs mental focus with a vigorous strength based practice. Graceful, strong and fluid, how others look while practicing. I just looked like a hot mess.
As I entered my early 40’s, I shifted towards a slower, meditative approach. I introduced Qi Gong to my daily routine and gravitated towards Hatha yoga which involves holding poses longer, giving me a chance to be and stay in the moment. In addition, I started and stopped and still am stumbling through cultivating a meditation practice. As yoga cliches go, which does not they are not true, “it is a practice not a perfect”.
Adding to my health arsenal are my visits to my Chiropractor who is also my photography and yoga friend, Harley from Outspoken Chiropractic. Harley is a mental well being and holistic health champion. Visiting him always helps me feel better physically and mentally. We share common interests in photography and movement practices like Yoga.
While I have a tendency to forget when my appointments with him are, my body has strangely remembered when I’m due to visit. In an oddly serendipitous manner, my body starts acting up and before I can text Harley to ask when My appointment with him is, he texts me in the morning to remind me of our appointment at 545pm in the evening that day. Spooky.
A long ramble later, I guess my message is that we all need to find something that allows us to function at our best. Focusing on my mental and physical well being through, Yoga, Qi Gong, Meditation and Chiropractic treatments help me. They give me a good foundation to be a better person who is a husband, fur baby father, wannabe photographer and colleague.
New Zealand is looking to eliminate COVID19 from our shores. It is an ambitious target that is fraught with difficulties. Apart from the scientific nature of the virus, there is also the practical considerations required to limit community transmissions. I do not know better that anyone out there in New Zealand or the world. I prefer to listen to experts and take their advice.
There is only 1 small issue with my approach. There does not seem to be a “common view” from the scientific community about what we should do. We can also add into this mix the differing view from local and national authorities and politicians. Just to make it exciting, it is election time in New Zealand and every dog and person has a view and point to score.
I’m no expert. My view is no more important than the next person in the cafe. All I can say is that while both major political parties in New Zealand have very different approaches to economic and social progress, I’m glad their main focus to help Kiwis. It is hard, scratch that, impossible to keep everyone happy. But in the long run, New Zealand wins. Like I was reminded this week, don’t overreact. Let’s stay positive and look after each other.