Meeting of the Waters: Richard Hodges

In Meeting of the Waters, photographer Richard Hodges, of Cadell Street Studio in Goolwa, captures the changing moods of the people and the landscape using both photography and film. He chronicles Owen Love’s story and responds creatively to Michelle Murray’s poetic tales with enigmatic images of the region. 

Richard has a picture of himself as a child holding an old Kodak viewfinder camera that his father won in a competition. He is looking down into the box and focusing – a photo of himself taking a photo, in the sand hills on Brighton beach where he grew up.

“As I got older, I’ve just always had a camera,” says Richard, who has travelled to many remote and not-so-remote beaches around the world since, surfing and taking photos.

“I got over surf pictures and scenery at a certain point, and got really into Man Ray – and realised that that’s the direction I wanted to go in… a bit more bizarre. Not the normal pretty sort of pictures.

“I wasn’t really interested in the rules, even though I know the rules,” he explains. “Like, why couldn’t a portrait be an eye or a nose or a mouth, or the back of a person’s head?”

“I also really like Cartier-Bresson – his style of street photography really interests me. Now, if I could emulate anybody it’d be Trent Parke” [the photographer of life who is the only Australian represented by Magnum].

“When I’m taking photos I like to slow things down and what I’m doing is looking for the underlying energy level that’s there because I’m a great believer in, you know, the universe is just all energy. That’s all we are and how we interact with each other, and if you slow it down and look, you can see that.

“It’s showing the movement of life… what a person’s actually doing, where they are going, what they are seeing… rather than just showing them in a position or a moment in time. It’s easy to take a nice picture of a flower, for example, but the flower’s actually growing, so how do you show it growing?”

Richard and mythical poet and storyteller Michelle Murray have collaborated on two shows before Meeting of the Waters.

“With Michelle, creating something is so ephemeral and mystic; it’s real and it’s not real. When we do a project together, we don’t know where we’re going or what we’re doing to start. We’ll go on a road trip and, all of a sudden, we just seem to get led to a position and we find this is what we’re looking for. We just keep doing that and the stories get deeper and deeper and synchronicity seems to happen a lot – all of a sudden the thing turns up that gets us started, and we’re off and running …. and then it gets really deep, intensely deep.”

Richard has also been working with Ngarrindjeri playwright and performer Owen Love on Meeting of the Waters, telling the story of the land that Owen grew up in – around Wellington and along the Murray River.

The Meeting of the Waters launch is taking place at the Wellington Courthouse in September, featuring film, photography, poetry, performance and song.

Photo: Self-portrait, Richard Hodges