© Chris Rainier
For The Genesis Project, a Head On featured show at M Contemporary Gallery opening on 20 May, 19 prominent photographers have delved into their archives to find the image that first made them think, “that’s it!”. Below are the stories behind the seminal images of 2 of the exhibiting photographers, Chris Rainier and Murray Fredericks.
In every artist’s genesis there is a point – an image – that we can look back on with the realisation that the photograph taken was a defining moment of internal creative clarity.
My first image that lay at the gateway of this perception was discovered on a journey through the ancient desert of South West America – in the windswept stones of Utah.
A storm had laid a few tumbleweeds to rest in a hole in a ravine – a sacred place- a burial site for Native American elders. When I took that image some thirty years ago – I knew I had creatively passed through a door of perception. I knew then the path I needed to follow internally and creatively as an artist. Photography has become for me a passport to understand the world around me. I am drawn to the edges – where light and dark, black and white, good and bad meet.
They say every photograph taken eventually becomes a self-portrait – regardless of where the camera is pointed.
The most recent image of a traditional Cultural Mask Dance ritual in West Africa is a continued genesis of that early image. The journey continues ever deeper – more refined as an image maker – into personal discovery, clarity of vision – and personal passion.
© Murray Fredericks
My first real photographic assignment came from a teacher (now friend) and early mentor, Bruce Hart in 1997.
The class was asked to choose a subject and produce 100 photographs of it, with as much variation as possible. It’s an exercise that I still believe all photography students should do at some stage.
My chosen subject was the Macquarie Lighthouse and I proceeded to shoot it in different light, with varying skies on various types of film.
On one visit, I noticed, quite unexpectedly, that all the elements in the frame were suddenly working together.
There was a unity in the composition that seemed to take the individual elements of the image to a place, that ever so slightly, transcended the literal subject matter.
At that moment, looking through the viewfinder, a voice in my head said “that’s me!”.
At the time, it was enough to let me know I was on the right path.
But years later, I realised the deeper significance, that photography is as much about the subject both in front of and behind the camera.