“My images seek to capture those things that have become more favorable in the memory than in the seeing. Uncompromising subjects are presented in an ideal way; as they could be (and perhaps as they were once perceived to be) rather than as they necessarily are; my intent is to reconnect or reacquaint with earlier held values and perceptions.”
MHQ: “Seascapes” is such an impressive exploration of space, how did you decide on submitting these images rather than another series of yours?
Cally: There is a feeling of space in most of my work as I mentioned earlier, my work comes from the allowance of space, but I felt that “Seascapes” really fitted the theme perfectly.
MHQ: You describe your photography as “Fine Art Photography,” what qualifies such a distinction and also what draws you to this specific form?
Cally: My thinking on art photography is that it is about creating work that’s primary purpose is aesthetics; it’s about conveying your own visions and emotions as opposed to commercial or journalistic intent. It’s personal work not created for the financial gain of a client. It does not serve to sell something. I am simply showing you what might be when you stop for a moment and look.
Art photography is something that I have wanted to pursue since I finished studying, to create images without reference to anyone else’s instructions or desires. To have the freedom to say what I want to say.
This is a very liberating process and I have been very fortunate to be able to pursue it. It comes back to the whole space thing again, when you have the space to do as you wish, the possibilities become endless.
MHQ: Tell us about your background in photography, when did this passion become more?
Cally: I started taking photos when I was a child; I got a camera for Christmas that I had bedded for months for and started point it at all the same sorts of things I still point my camera at now. Those childhood fascinations have stayed with me.
I studied photography at a tertiary level focusing on portraits in my final year. At the time it was still all darkrooms and film, but I wanted more than that so I began painting oil paints onto my photos in an attempt to add the elements that couldn’t be captured. I won some awards for my work but commercially my clients just didn’t get it. As time went on, I built up my business and put this kind of thinking aside.
I took a ong break from photography when I started a family. I felt constrained by film and I had come to loath the chemicals in the darkroom and the hours spent toiling away in the dark. Over a few short years though, digital photography made huge leaps in progress and a surprise gift from my husband brought me right back to it. With the constraints of the darkroom and the limitations of experimenting with film gone I found a new drive to work with the limitless potential of digital photography and a desire to pick up were I had left so long ago.
MHQ: How does space influence the art you create?
Cally: When I have space I am able to think deeply and take the time to explore and expand on ideas. I live rurally and while my children are at school I have 5 hours a day of thinking and working time where I don’t see anyone and I don’t speak to anyone; aside from a bit of mooing and crowing, it is pretty quiet so I can really focus on my work. Living rurally allows me to disconnect from society in a way, allowing me to follow my own thinking rather than be influenced by others.
MHQ: What are you currently working on? What themes are you running into, what challenges are you facing and in what ways do you hope to better your work and your process?
Cally: I am working on a large project at the moment, which may take me some time to come up with results that create a final body of work. I am working on the theme or idea of ‘reality within reality;’ preconceived ideas meet reality through an altered reality. So, the result is images that portray an idea I had but are marred by reality, but even so, they continue to portray that romantic notion I had from the start and absorb the aspects of reality, resulting in romantic images marred by the everyday. I am still trying to tie the idea down, so it is tricky to define very well in words yet.
With all my work, the challenge I face is making it turn the corner from a lofty idea to something worth showing. Whenever you attempt to make something out of nothing you are always faced with accepting that there really might be nothing to be made of it.
This interview was published in the Spring Issue of Manor House Quarterly, themed “Space.” For more information on Cally Whitham, please visit her website at http://www.cally.co.nz/