Anita Jean is dead.
Anita Jean never was…
Previously I traded under the business name “Anita Jean Photography”, which confused people who expected my name to be Anita. But Anita Jean was not a person.
Anita Jean was the name I gave myself when I didn’t know who I was, and it was in fact the name that my parents had chosen for me before I was born. When they saw the newborn me they realised that the name wasn’t a good fit, so they chose a different one. But when I lost my way as a young person and experienced chronic depression and anxiety, I wondered who the real me was. Maybe I was Anita Jean? That name gave me a persona under which to pursue my photography career.
More than twenty years later I have sought the medical help needed to overcome the effects of Bipolar Type Two, which so limited my enjoyment of life for so long.
At the age of fifty I felt that I finally knew who the real me was, so Anita Jean was laid to rest.
The Wagin Woolorama is the biggest agricultural show in the southern wheatbelt in Western Australia. For the last five years I have had the job of photographing the fashion parades.
I’ve always been a fan of fashion parades, and I remember at the height of the wool boom in the 1980s there were amazing wool fashion parades at the Perth Royal Show that were real extravaganzas. The Woolorama parades are not on such a grand scale, but they do usually feature some wool fashions sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI).
This parade proved to be challenging to photograph with the new LED lighting effects, which added drama to the parade but played havoc with the models’ skin tone in the photos. Some urgent negotiating between the parade organiser and the sound and lighting technician saw a revised lighting scheme which allowed me to photograph the fashions showing the colours accurately.
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Scrolling through my social media feeds last week i was bombarded with back-to-school photos. On Instagram a photo of a little kid with a wide grin full of baby teeth carrying a backpack nearly as big as himself. A photo of a teenager in a private school uniform with tie and blazer, lapels dotted with prefect and captain badges, entering his final year of high school and standing as tall as his proud father. And there was the Facebook post with four siblings lined up in an ages line; the littlest, entering kindy, stands on the left and the height line slopes up on an angle, ending with the eldest who all of a sudden is no longer a little kid but almost a young woman.
Parents have bought their kids school uniforms that are deliberately roomy, knowing that before the end of the year they will become tighter and shorter as their child grows.
We know that our children don’t stay little for long. At the time, being a parent of young kids is tiring, and it can be burdensome and unrewarding, but these years pass very quickly in the scheme of things.
I’ve added my own (iPhone photo), with feet cut off, of my son and his Dad which was taken before we got in the car for the one and a half hour drive to boarding school.
I’m finding out just how quickly kids grow up. I’m home alone as I write this, with my kids all away. My youngest has just turned twelve, and he started boarding school on Monday, to join two sisters who returned to boarding school as well. His eldest sister has travelled to the other side of the continent to return to a job she loves in the outback.
And just like that, the kids are all grown up!!
Take the photo. Print the photo. Save the memories.