Then I picked up a camera. In the beginning my little sister was my muse. We ran in the tall grass in our backyard, chasing the sun that painted her gold until it slipped beneath the fence. With her I captured tiny moments of purity that would have disappeared forever. I was the decider of which moments to let live and which to let die. I was thirteen and I’d discovered how to stop time.
My passion for photography quickly grew to obsession. I saw life through a viewfinder. In those days I was using my Mother’s point-and-shoot but it didn’t matter what I used. When I was shooting everything was perfect. The camera gifted me fearlessness and purpose. I could see the way light fell, the softness of someone daydreaming and the way sunlight changed colours throughout the day.
For my birthday I unwrapped my very first camera and I cried. My Mother had saved most of the year to buy it for me. As I held it in my hands potential ran like electricity through me. I became serious. I scouted kids from school and the street so I could take their portraits. I skipped school to shoot and teach myself all I could about photography from the internet. I entered my first photography competition and won. Every night I slept with my camera by my side. I began to share my images online and my following grew and grew.
I kept writing. My short stories were often morbid, heavily influenced by a childhood of abuse and a fascination with death and human emotion, but there was beauty there too. Writing was both the hardest and most fulfilling thing I did, but photography was my identity.
At school no one understood my passion. I failed my photography class and grown ups told me my dreams were unrealistic and I should go to university. I felt like an outsider in my small town but online I found a community of creatives where I belonged. The determination to chase my dreams was so great that one day I left school without ever looking back.
For years I’d been hopelessly in love with a photographer boy from another city and one day I booked flights to him. That first week I loved like love was all I was. When I returned home I packed a suitcase and left my hometown for good. For many years we were inseparable. We rented a tiny apartment in a big city where we could barely afford rent but we joked that we were rich with love. We created every day. We fought as fiercely as we loved. Light and dark were tangible and we were artists who craved it all.
I won a prestigious photography award, bought new equipment with my winnings and was signed to an agency. I was flown to New York where I shot my first fashion campaign. I was this giggly sixteen year old with a team of twenty at my command but I wasn’t nervous, shooting was second nature. The first time I saw one of my images on a billboard was in Times Square and I couldn’t tear myself away. I did countless interviews, shot for countless brands. The fashion industry sucked me in, I lost my mind and found it again on the way out.
Starting my blog changed my life. Writing became a part of my identity again but it was more than that; the way I lived became my art too. Though I found it difficult to believe anyone read my blog, strangers began to approach me in the street to tell me how it had affected their own lives. I began to realise this was bigger than I was.
We lived for years as travellers (collecting the wildest of stories) before I yearned for a real home. We found the perfect place in the clouds overlooking the Blue Mountains. Having a place to come back to each time we flew home from a campaign or adventure was bliss. We’d sit by the fire eating homemade coconut pumpkin soup and daydream about having a baby.
At nineteen my daughter Alba was born. The morning fog rolled by outside as I held her for the very first time and she was (and is) more perfect than I could have ever dreamed.
As a Mama my priorities shifted. My heart chased different things. I wanted deeper connections, I wanted to be a better person and I wanted to give all I had. Vulnerability became my superpower, the tool in which I could truly reach and inspire others. The openness inevitably brought hate into my world, but it was drowned out by the love, by the neverending messages of gratitude.
At twenty-one my world fell into pieces in what at the time felt like the worst thing to ever happen to me but in hindsight feels closer to the best. As a single mama I grew in endless ways. I found myself and my independence again, not realising I’d ever lost them. But I felt lost. I didn’t have a home or any idea of what I was doing. Sometimes life was harder than I’d ever known.
A year and a half later as I felt more hopeless than ever before, a kind-hearted artist boy came into my life as if by magic. I fell in love all over again. He taught me that love didn’t have to be volatile, it could be stable and good. I realised that sometimes life falls apart so it can be put together better than ever before.
I balance mamahood and artisthood. I live in Perth, Australia but when Alba is with her Papa I am travelling. As I write this I am backstage in the Central Park stage in NYC, shooting a series with my favourite band on tour across the states. Next week I’ll be back at home with my daughter and my love, life quiet, familiar and sweet. Nights spent writing, days spent exploring. My daughter growing more wonderful before my eyes. Both worlds are mine.
This is my journal of the things I create and the moments I live.