We are thrilled to introduce Bethia Hope-Rollins as our monthly “Be Our Guest” blogger for December. Bethia ia a longtime ViewFinders follower and has been participating in our Be Our Guest hashtag challenge. Her travel and family photographs are beautiful, unique, and inspiring. She has the ability to truly capture a “sense of place” wherever her camera finds her. You can find more of her work on Instagram as bethiahope, or on her website www.bethiahope.com
Here, then, are her words and images.
At some point during the last few years something shifted in my mind from seeing myself as “being passionate about photographing” to seeing myself as a photographer. Embodying this feels like a leap, a little uncomfortable, perhaps immodest to give myself that title, but by contrast too it feels completely right. Out of this shift in mindset came the inevitable question; “what kind of a photographer am I? or do I want to be?” This question then deepened my passion and opened up a craving to create I didn’t realise I possessed.
I think I would describe my photography to be about responding to what I feel or receive from the environment I’m in or the stimuli I come across. Mostly sights that make me pause or take my breath away, moments or scenes that invoke an emotional empathy in me.
I am moved to photograph what moves me, which is not a new concept of course. With a young family there is plenty of inspiration, subtly definitive moments to cherish like the crinkles of my baby’s bottom, the first ringlets and moments shared between siblings.
For this piece though I’m sharing what has consumed me most over that last few years; wanderlust. The desire to be immersed in, and inspired by somewhere else and then to savour that experience through a lasting image. Wanderlust, travel, has always been high on my priority list, it was the only thing I knew for sure that I wanted to do after school and it still influences many of my life decisions now.
So I’ve spent time reflecting through my images noticing repeating themes, subjects and compositions. A love of walls, windows and doorways, and how a culture expresses itself through its architecture and colours.
Of leading lines, or curves, that invite you to explore further into the detail of an image.
I set Italy in my sights for my 40th in 2016 and it has completely hypnotized me since. Everything from the tiny detail of a hydrangea in a Tuscan Villa, the vibrancy of cascading vines and characterful corners in Rome, to the sweeping romantic Tuscan countryside.
Inspired by many travel and street travel photographers but notably an exhibition of Shirley Bakers titled “Women and Children; and Loitering Men” in 2015, I’ve been conscious too that I want to document people. To capture images that might invite a little curiosity, perhaps prompt the viewer to wonder about the subjects’ ‘story’, in the way that I do.
So I’ve pushed myself this last year to be brave and capture people in the scenes that stir my soul. Such as the Italian ‘la Passeggiata’, where young and old alike take an evening stroll to socialise. It is an enviable daily ritual that I vow to adopt when my life slows down a little (and I relocate to warmer climes!).
Or the way the Parisian’s do ‘watching the world go by’ so elegantly
and seem to express love so openly and tenderly.
It seems I have a ‘thing’ too for watching tourists, or I should say for watching the ‘other people’ visiting the places I’m visiting. I admit it is a little strange that I remove myself from the ‘tourist’ category. I guess I just love people watching, we are a curious species us humans.
I know that becoming a photographer has enriched my experience of the world, my everyday, my life, in a way that I’m not sure anything else could have. And whether my images resonate with, provoke or please others isn’t really the point, it’s what practicing the art gives to me, and I know you photographers out there will get that. It’s been a pleasure creating this for Viewfinders and is an honor to be a guest.
(Credit to my good friend @deandorat for this last image of me)
We want YOU to Be Our Guest! Post your images on Instagram with the hashtag #viewsfindersio_beourguest or leave a comment below with a link to your best images. You could be our next guest and have the opportunity to share your photographic vision with us.
See you soon.