Photography is to witness and give | Writing is to push and pull


A Quechua youngster brings his brother or friend in the hopes of receiving more Oreos from a stranger (I wasn’t the Oreo giver).

Okay, so the good news is that these thoughts I shared in the last post of returning to Australia were just sickness-thoughts.

Damn that cuy! (hamster).

I woke up this morning and then did a 10 km trek to 4450 metres and saw a glacier overlooking the lake I sat beside. I had a great time. There were no deep and meaningful thoughts, no contemplation of the meaning of life, no meditations about God.


Amy! My housemate roams Huanchaco.


Okay, as I sat on the ledge of a glacier lake listening to…what? This was silence but for waterfalls fresh from a glacier lake. The wind blew but there were no roars of a plane vibrating in the far distance which we’ve always tried to zone out when we reflect. It was only the sounds of nature, and the sounds of my thoughts were stunned by the silence of the natural world around me.

As I sat on the ledge of a glacier lake contemplating why my favourite author was Roald Dahl (I always enjoyed his children books because he made his neglected child characters believe in magic in times of darkness, but it’s his adult works like his Tales of Madness that fascinate me because his sense of magic is there, but it’s in the behaviour of his characters who react in the most surprising of ways).

The statue of Jesus overlooking a mass graveyard from an earthquake in the 70s which killed 12,000 people. Not even the churches were spared.


As I sat on the ledge of a glacier lake I realised that no matter what, you always carry your mind with you (the sort of thing that sounds philosophical but my Peru-Hermanos,Guy, would shake his head at, for how wanky it actually is. The sort of thing that sounds wise but is over-obvious that it doesn’t need to be written).

Let me start this sentence again for the last time (I’m starting to think I really want you to know I saw a lake near a glacier). As I sat on the ledge of a glacier lake I wondered at my compulsion to write and my need to take photographs. I’m no good at taking photographs but I enjoy it. It’s my way of trying to give to people. By witnessing. By having nothing to do with their moment.


If I put a photo of Lutie in here he might share the blog post again. Last time he did that the stats increased a ridiculous amount.

Yesterday on the bus I went through my camera to delete old photographs from my old life in Mount Isa, Qld. There were so many photographs I had taken in my job as a journalist, and I realised that while I had a part these were not my memories. Yet at the same time they symbolised all the moments I had absorbed, and taken on. There were cricket matches, scenes of family tragedies (plural), a swimwear comp, and numerous fundraisers and political announcements. These photographs were for other people and I was paid to take them, I don’t mind, but it’s finally time. I deleted them one by one.

Another housemate, Nicola, caught in the moment.

Today on this blog post I share with you 8 photographs I’ve taken recently, which I’ve taken for people (why 8? I was going for 10 but the net is slow and with the length of the writing eight is a nice round number to prevent over cluttering). This is my expression and it’s different to my writing.

I know how I sound by the way. Wanky. Pretentious. Arrogant. Full of himself. Egotistical.

My writing, which I  assume you’re reading and not just overlooking for the sweet pics, is something different. My writing is completely for me. As a child I used it because of the praise I received (“You’re going to be a famous author one day, mate. The ghosts flew a rocket ship to the moon, you say? Brilliant! You are so creative.”), then I used it to escape by channeling into my fantasies, then I used it for dreams of fame (ha ha ha ha, dreaming of writing the fantasy series), then I did it because I dreamed of controlling my readers’ thoughts and emotions, and then because…because…it fulfilled my life’s purpose. Then I got paid for it, and then it sort of just became compulsion. Mainly because I couldn’t express myself in any other way.

My most loyal reader Adriaan. Another photo of him in my blog is long overdue.

Life makes sense when I write and if one of you in a hundred read this or read what I eventually churn out, and can’t explain your own thoughts and emotions better with one additional word, if you realise suddenly in your dark times that what you’re feeling has been felt before, that you are not alone, that you are not mad or crazy, then…then…well, that’s why I leave myself vulnerable when I write. It’s necessary.

Add in the typical Aussie self degradation: Look at me being noble and shit. Gets on the nose a bit, hey? I feel it is on the nose anyway.

Two brothers from Ecuador.

I thought about returning to Australia in my sickness haze, but as I walked I realised that no matter what it goes against my life code. I am a writer. I am at the centre of where I need to be. I can’t give up, because after all, what am I going to write about? What am I going to take photographs of?

I didn’t take this photo. This photo was taken by one of the Quechua boys who came to visit us as we waited by our broken bus. I showed them my photographs and then I let him have a go at it.

Leaving Peru would be a tale of madness, but without the stories to go with it. It would simply be madness.