Everyday Magic

If we think about the photo albums at our parents’ house and what they felt important to record for future memory, we certainly won’t find epic photos of distant places or cheetahs running at high speed after their prey. We will find childhood memories, birthday parties, family gatherings. We laugh at the clothes that were used at that time, we regret having sold that car, we remember people who are no longer with us. These photographs are treasures, which we carefully keep in albums.
The real “extraordinary” is not found on a mountain ridge thousands of kilometres away, but within our homes, present in each of the ordinary moments experienced as a family. That is Everyday Magic.

Maurício & Hugo
Co-founders and editors of Olympus Passion

It’s 6am, give or take 30mins, and I can hear my kids moving around in their room. Not long after, their footsteps rumble down the hallway and our bedroom door flies open. They greet me, sleep-eyed, sometimes happy, often grumpy or even crying. I am yanked from the peace of my morning routine of some yoga, Tapping and journalling, sleep-eyed myself and sometimes grumpy too, depending on how much of the above I have been able to do before they charge in.

I give them all hugs, listen to their tears and we head to the kitchen for their breakfast of toasted muesli. On the way I notice the golden morning light peeking through the cracks in the shutters, sprinkling patterns of leaves on the walls. I give the kids their muesli and go around the house opening all the curtains and shutters. The light streams in and the walls become works of art. I am in awe and have to capture them, so I grab my camera from where it lives on the shelf in the hallway and take a few shots.

I go back to the kitchen and the blinds have become masterpieces, golden light framing Frangipani shadows from the tree outside. I take a few more shots. The light hits the sink full of dishes and the mess that I have to tidy up later becomes momentarily magical. I open the blinds and the light moves beyond the dishes to the wall, creating the most divine art there. I take another shot.

My kids now point to it and say, “Mum, look at the light.” My obsession with it is starting to rub off on them. The whining starts up again as the kids finish their food and want me to play with them. I’ve barely made a cup of tea, but I’ve had a mental break, a moment of mindfulness, that fills my cup and fuels me on.

This is the role photography plays in my life. It is intertwined with my everyday and it keeps me grounded. It allows me to freeze time and relish it. From light on my hallway wall, to my kids playing at the playground, to raindrops on leaves glistening in the morning sun. From colours, lines, shapes and shadows on fences, pavements and brick walls, to people going about their days in city streets.

I have always noticed the details in things, looking up in city streets at the gargoyles on buildings, or down at the lone yellow leaf on a grey concrete pavement; however, it is only since I immersed myself in photography that it really opened up my world and made me stop taking things for granted. Every photo I take, even those that are just in my mind on the occasions I don’t have my camera with me, is a little practice of gratitude and I love it. It has opened my eyes to the ordinary magic around me.

My name is Alice and I live in Brisbane, Australia with my Costa Rican husband and three young children (an almost 6yr old boy and 3.5yr old boy/girl twins). I’ve always loved photography, taking snaps at camps and sleepovers in primary school, to dabbling in the darkroom in high school, to travelling Central America with my Pentax SLR (which I received for my 18th birthday) and a film point and shoot in my 20s. I have albums and albums of prints and even more folders of digital images. Though it wasn’t until I had children that I started to delve more deeply into photography.

In 2014, a year before my eldest was born, my husband bought me an Olympus OM-D E-M10 for my birthday. It was the first digital camera that I’d had with which I could shoot in manual, but I didn’t really know how to, so I stuck it in priority mode and started to shoot with my 14-42mm kit lens. I went for a walk in a nearby bushland and spent an hour or so wandering and capturing the beauty around me.

I still remember the photos I took on my first play with that camera and they’re still in an album on Facebook for me to look at and remember. Prior to this, I’d had a little Canon IXUS, which I loved, but I am so glad my husband gave me that Olympus. He’d got some advice from my electrical engineering brother, that mirrorless was ‘the future’ (it’s taken a while, but that seems to finally be the case) and for me, it was.

In my head I wanted to be a “Photographer” and I had hopes of having my own business and shooting families and babies, as this was the world I knew at the time. I took some online courses, but nothing really seemed to click. In the meantime, I continued to shoot what I loved – many, many candid images of my son and my days with him, as well as random things that captured my attention, but these images weren’t the same as those I was seeing in the Facebook groups I’d joined, or the forums I was in, so I felt like a bit of a fraud.

By now I’d gone on to have twins and I really felt like I’d got nowhere with my photography. My days were busier than ever, but my craving for some “me” time and a space to express myself had grown and I found myself picking up my camera more and more. One day I came across an Enthusiast’s course run by Click Love Grow and I signed up. The course began and everything started to click, it really did.

Within weeks I was confidently using my camera in manual mode and with my then new Olympus 25mm 1.8, I was learning how to take the types of pictures of my kids that I’d seen elsewhere. At the end of the course, I opened an Instagram account to share my images and to keep me motivated. I started experimenting with “Lifestyle” photography, also attempting to take posed portraits of my children, but it just didn’t sit right with me.

I was still taking photos of light on fences and shadows on walls and of the everyday things my kids did and the mess on our living room floor, but I rarely shared these, as I felt a bit embarrassed by them, like they were “silly” and “amateur”. I kept trying to emulate what I saw in all the workshops I took online and on the pages of the people I followed on Instagram.

It was about this time that we moved house (August 2018, to be precise) and it was in this new (for us) house that I found the light, literally, on the walls, on the floor, filtering through the trees and hitting the windows at all hours of the day and it was here that my photography and my own artistic voice grew. I had a new spot for my camera, on that shelf in the hallway, where it was easily accessible and I began picking it up daily.

By this time, I’d purchased the Olympus 30mm macro lens (I’ve since upgraded to the 60mm) and I started shooting flowers on the deck in the evening golden sun, but I didn’t just want to shoot flowers. I then discovered Documentary Family Photography and I felt like I had finally found “my genre”, as this was what I’d been doing all along – capturing my children candidly in our every day, though there was so much more that sparked interest in me.

I thought I had to shoot just one genre and I felt like a misfit for being pulled to so many, but I kept shooting. I discovered the genre of Street Photography and the same thing happened. I upgraded to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II (after an unfortunate accident with my original E-M10, which fell down the front tiled steps!!), purchased the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens and started following my heart and my photography flourished. I also realised that I didn’t actually want to run a photography business like I’d previously thought and I really started enjoying shooting just for me.

I now shoot with the Olympus E-M1 Mark III and the lens that lives on my camera is the Panasonic Leica 15mm 1.7 Summilux. I still own the Olympus 60mm macro lens and the Olympus 12-40mm Pro, though I don’t use them very much these days. I have a Voigtlander 25mm 0.95, which I rarely use, but I love for its super dreamy bokeh and film-like look.

I also have an Olympus TG-6, which I have with the Fish Eye Converter FCON-T01. I absolutely adore my TG-6 and whenever I’m at the beach, local dam or at the local pool, I have it with me. I love that it forces me to let go and embrace the imperfections in the shots that I take with it, as there is very little one can actually control.

I spend hours shooting and next to no time editing, as I rarely get time on my computer these days. As a result, I have many unedited images that I one day hope to get to. When I do edit, it is in Lightroom and I have a basic preset that I made which I use on every image – I add some contrast, some clarity, a slight tone curve and then I may tweak the colours in the HSL panel and add a few radial filters here or there.

Over the years I’ve often wondered whether my images would be better if I shot with a full-frame camera, but even when I had the chance to switch over after that horrible accident with my E-M10, I ended up sticking with Olympus, as really, I love it. It is small and light, it fits in my handbag and it does what I want – allows me to capture the beauty in my every day.

At times I’d like it to be a bit better in low light, but I’ve also learnt how to embrace high ISOs and I am not afraid to crank them up when I need to. The Olympus’ depth of field is also really handy for street photography as I can open up my lens really wide to let more light in, but still nail focus.

Slowly, slowly I have learnt that you don’t need to shoot just one genre and you certainly don’t need to define yourself by those that you do. I am now much more relaxed about the images I take and what I share. I capture anything, literally anything (like rubbish left on the side of the road) that grabs my attention. I am drawn to light, to shadows, to colours and lines.

I love capturing the everyday moments in my family’s life that I will one day forget, including the mess of toys left on the living room floor and the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. I love highlighting the often overlooked, or even unseen, beauty in our everyday, because life really is amazing, even when it’s hard and we feel like the grass is always greener somewhere else.

I hope that my images reflect this and that they make others start to look at their own life differently, even if it is just to notice a small patch of light on their kitchen wall as they make their morning coffee, because once you open your eyes to it, you realise that magic really is everywhere.

Alice Mariette is an award-winning, self-taught photographer, whose interests lie in family documentary, nature and street photography. She is inspired by the world around her, in particular by the everyday scenes that pass many of us by. She loves to document the mundane, yet magical, moments of her life with three young children and she is drawn to light, shadows, colour and patterns. She lives in Brisbane, Australia with her family and enjoys spending her free time anywhere near water, whether that be the beach, a creek or the local dam. She is also a violinist and enjoys playing in a local community orchestra.

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