I came across another of many seagull photos from my trip to Australia in February and March of this year. It doesn’t matter where I am, I’m usually making images. I travel a lot for work and the contents of this blog reflect that. But whether I’m far from home or restlessly awaiting my next trip, I’m almost always photographing. I look for excuses to get in the car and drive somewhere new, even if it’s just down the road a short way. Simple, everyday moments like this are all around us, near or far. I get a lot of joy just searching for them.
I’ve been back in Buffalo for one week now. It’s Saturday, the first day I’ve had a chance to really relax since my return and I’ve been spending some time going through the photos I took on my trip.
I shot this image on my last night in Newcastle. The next day I took the train to Sydney where I rested my head in an airport hotel before my flight home the following morning. This picture reminds me of the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. My grandfather gave it to me to read on a flight from Omaha to Seattle to visit with him and his wife one summer when I was 15. He said it would be a quick, yet inspirational read for my travels. Although it spent almost 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list when it originally came out, the book, written by Richard Bach, received mixed reviews and several critics found it to be a little naive. Even so, I enjoyed it when I was 15. And I often think of it when I encounter seagulls in my travels or near my home in Buffalo which is close to Lake Erie.
I found this fantastic (and ridiculous) review of the book that really gets at the heart of why I still think of Jonathan Livingston Seagull fondly:
An animal fantasy about a philosophical gull who is profoundly affected by flying, but who demands too much of his community and is cast out by it. He becomes an extremely well behaved accursed wanderer, then dies, and in post-humous FANTASY sequences—though he is too wise really to question the fact of death, and too calmly confident to have doubts about his continuing upward mobility&—he learns greater wisdom. Back on Earth, he continues to preach and heal and finally returns to heaven, where he belongs. – John Clute, for The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
“Why is it that the hardest thing in the world is to convince a bird that he is free, and that he can prove it for himself if he’d just spend a little time practicing? Why should that be so hard?”
– Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach
On my last evening in Sydney I decided to go for a walk after a long and productive day at work. By the time I started out, the sun had just started to set, but the light was still suitable for “Magic Hour” shooting. I wandered around Darling Harbor and quickly took a few snaps before the light changed and night time began to slowly fall all around.
I decided to head in the direction of the Sydney Opera House next. This is a walk I’ve taken many times during daylight hours, and even in early evening once during a visit in 2013 when I met colleagues for drinks at Opera Bar. But something was different this time.
It was about a 40 minute walk to the opera house from my hotel and by the time I approached Circular Quay it was dark. The walkway by the water leading to the opera house was illuminated by globed street lamps and light pouring from the many restaurants and bars along the way. When I finally arrived, I was fully in awe. I really felt like I was at the center of the universe in that moment. Like so many of the evenings during my time in Australia, I was totally alone, and yet in those few moments, I felt like I was connected to everything. I took a number of shots before heading back and I’ve compiled a medley of some of the images below to remind me.