Easter Island 2016

This week I'm on Easter Island. It is my third visit to this island since I first visited back in 2003. A lot has changed in the thirteen years since I first came here.

 Image courtesy  Richard Cavalleri, tour participant 2016 

Image courtesy Richard Cavalleri, tour participant 2016 

I think returning to a place can be very rewarding, for a few reasons.

The first and most obvious one, is that by returning, you get a another chance to capture what you failed to capture during your first visit. To fill in the missing gaps on what you thought was possible. And of course, you get to dig a little deeper. Each time I've returned to a place, I've found my knowledge and understanding of it just gets a little richer and my photographs seemed to touch areas of the place that I didn't encounter the first time.

But it's not just this aspect of revisiting a place that is rewarding. I've often found that each time I return to a place I have photographed before, that I find myself reflecting on who I was, what I was trying to achieve and also, just how much I've changed as a photographer since that previous visit.

My first visit to Easter Island in 2003 was at a time when I had only just been making photographs seriously for about three years. I still hadn't grasped what grad filters could do for my exposures, or indeed, how full ND filters could help smoothen down some of the textures in my photos. I was also very unclear at the time as to how far I could push the boundaries of my chosen film stock with regards to the quality of light I could photograph. There are numerous technical aspects that I did not know at the time, that I do know now.

 Image ©  Richard Cavalleri. This is a cropped version of the first image in this post. Richard and I spent some time discussing aspect ratios and image-interpretation / editing techniques during our time together.

Image © Richard Cavalleri. This is a cropped version of the first image in this post. Richard and I spent some time discussing aspect ratios and image-interpretation / editing techniques during our time together.

But it is more than this. Since that first visit in 2003, I've found that I've gained so much experience from photographing other terrains around the world, that I can draw upon this experience to help me photograph Easter Island in ways that I struggled to interpret. Back in 2003, I had found the terrain here extremely complex. I did not have the compositional skills to translate what I saw here. Nor had I the understanding about light to work with the landscape at other times of the day other than sunrise and sunset.

So I find myself looking back very much at who I was in 2003, not just in terms of what I knew as a photographer, but also in what I was looking for in the images I chose to create. This time round, I'm much more interested in the landscape and the more anonymous locations, rather than the statues.

I can't help but feel very grateful to have had the chance to revisit this amazing little island at spells throughout my photographic development. Each visit is like an 'intermission', a placeholder to notice the changes in my art.

I do think that revisiting places is good for the photographic soul. Some places just get under your skin, and don't let go. Some have unfinished business because you realise that you didn't have the skills to work with them the first time round, which is something I feel very much about Easter Island.

Many thanks to Richard Cavalleri for letting me use his image of the fifteen moai statues at Tongariki on Easter Island during my first (and last) photo tour here.