Explore and Create Stories #12: Elizabeth Bull
Elizabeth has a beautiful story. It is one that I really connected with when I met her through the Creative Women’s Circle and The Resolution Project we participated in together last year. Elizabeth is one kick arse photographer. Her eye is incredible…you just can’t stop looking at the finer detail of her work while also appreciate the simplicity and freshness. She is also one of the most humble, curious, and gracious women I have ever met. I think you will agree that this Explore and Create Story shares so much in regards to the complexity of being a creative.
"We share beautiful and inspiring prints created by talented photographers, and make them accessible to people who would like to enjoy them in their home".
Tell us about what you do.
When I was growing up I used to tell people I was going to be an artist. I didn't really know what that meant but I figured that was what I would do. After taking a photography class in schoolI decided that photography was going to be my medium, which is pretty lucky, really, as my painting, drawing, interpretive dance and ceramic skills were all fairly dismal. My dad had always been into photography and he used to make my brother and me pose for hours on end in the backyard, or in his makeshift studio in the living room. So maybe photography was in my blood. I took my dad's old Canon AE1, with which he'd photographed me as a young child, and built a darkroom in my parents’ laundry using darkroom equipment my father had collected over the years but never used. I spent hours in that laundry developing film and printing prints. I actually did most of my work for that class from home; mainly because it meant that I could then goof off with my friends in class. But in spite of my goofing off, I received my school’s art award on graduation and managed to gain a place to study photography at RMIT University. As I was in the commercial photography stream, it was drilled into us that you were in the wrong place if you wanted to be an artist. This was fine by me, since my childhood dreams of being an artist were just a distant memory. I wanted to be commercial. I wanted to be in business.
After graduation I dove into work as a commercial photographer. I'd still create personal work. Sometimes I'd submit it to awards or magazines, but I really didn't have an avenue or the time to concentrate on promoting what I considered my personal work. I really enjoyed creating personal work, especially when I travelled. I enjoyed shooting in a documentary way, and was especially drawn to the urban environment. My images are often heavily centered around shape and texture, and I'm always looking for ways to shoot landscapes in different ways.
I decided very early on in my freelance career that the commercial photography work I did would fund my personal trips, where I could focus on my creative projects. It very quickly became a priority in my business life to travel as far and as frequently as possible; more often than not taking multiple overseas jaunts per year.
The longer I spent working in the photography industry, the more I noticed other professional photographers also creating amazing personal work without an avenue to share it with the broader community. From this, the idea behind One Fine Print was born.
I also noticed that Photography was more popular than ever. With everyone owning a camera it meant the market was saturated; however it also meant that everyone was eager to see imagery that was different, which pushed the boundaries and couldn't be captured on a smart phone. Yet despite this, the only accessible photography available to people were generic prints rather than the original, dynamic and bold imagery I was seeing being produced by my colleagues. It dawned on me how important it was to promote photography as art and really showcase the talent of photographers out there, but at the same time make it accessible and not intimidating for the art buyer.
"One Fine Print’s aim is to bring people beautiful and unique photography that they might otherwise not get to experience".
What are you passionate about?
* Lifting the bar on the availability of bold, unique and dynamic imagery available.
* Providing photographers with a reason to create personal and creative imagery and to push creative boundaries
What are you working on at the moment?
Our One Fine Print photographers and the images that they produce are a constant source of inspiration to me. They inspire me to create, to travel and visit what they've photographed. Surrounded by so much talent inspires me to create more in my own photographic practice. One Fine Print also gives me an avenue/reason to create.
I'm in the midst of choosing prints to display in our upcoming short term showcase store which means that I am poring over images trying to pick favourites – this is always a hard task! It's extremely satisfying seeing the images become prints though.
What led you to your latest project or focus?
I'm not a traditionalist but I have a belief in the printed photograph. As fabulous as digital is, it sometimes means we forget how powerful the printed image is. One Fine Print is about keeping the form of printed photography alive. It is important for us to showcase our work as it is meant to be seen.
How do you approach creativity in your life?
Seeing. As a photographer you are always looking for that photograph. You might not even have a camera to your eye or even with you! The first step for me is looking for that image and identifying it. I am always looking for the next photograph. You do this by studying the light, often noting how it changes the appearance of patterns, shapes and textures.
I also often enjoy starting up the odd creative project such as learning to macreme, painting or building something something for home on weekends and in my spare time. It's nice to create something with your hands, something you don't really do as a photographer. These projects don't capture my attention for long but are a nice opportunity to include other forms of creativity in my life.
We talk a lot about "being in the moment" or “being" when creating. What does this mean for you?
I think I am exactly that: an "in the moment" photographer. I love capturing things as I see it, at that exact point in time. I don't like creating a scene or waiting for the right time. If it isn't right as I see it, then I simply don't capture it. Most of my work is very raw and involves very little post production/Photoshop.
What defines you in terms of balancing creativity and mindfulness for flow? How do you do this?
I love the idea of mindfulness but I don't think I get it. I have too many things going on and up in the air to be mindful! If anyone has any tips I'd really appreciate it.
What’s the biggest challenge you find in approaching your creative endeavours?
Making the time to create. I find that it’s something I do when I travel. Outside of this I find it hard to find the time But when I travel I always carry a camera and I am inspired to create new work. Luckily I travel a lot.
How do you find your zen?
I'm hardly ever zen, I am usually running at a million miles an hour and struggle to sit still. I'm yet to find a way to find my zen!
When you experience flow, what is the impact on your productivity? Tell us about this.
I've noticed recently that I am most productive in the mornings and that's really when I get my flow going. I think my mind is just clearer than and I can set my mind to tasks more easily. I really try and utilise this time as much as possible now and avoid doing things like scheduling morning meetings or other disruptions.
How would you rate your level of happiness about your creative endeavours at the moment? (1 being sad, 10 being love it/awesome/BEST EVER.)
What’s some advice you would offer to someone who is struggling to find their creative spark? or What advice would you give to someone who thinks they aren’t creative?
I don't know why but I find a change of location always helps me. Sometimes if I need to brainstorm an idea or work on something on which I’m getting stuck I go to a local cafe or change up my location. Sometimes even just the walk or ride gets the creative juices flowing and by the time I get there I've got a new way to tackle the problem in mind.
What’s the best ever quote you have seen in terms of creativity or mindfulness or flow?
“The world is your oyster but you still have to shuck it,”was a quote that made me laugh the other day...
But in terms of creativity, Elliot Erwitt's quote about photography I think rings true:
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”