Rituals at Dawn
RITUALS @ DAWN
Rituals @ Dawn is a collection of works that explore how people across the globe prepare themselves to receive a new day.
Since cave times, sunrise has been witnessed as the emergence of light and, concurrently, of life, as all forms, shapes, movements and gradations of colour, converge to end the uncertainty of night with the arrival again of light, and the clarity it brings for a new day.
Louise Grayson explores these dawn hours that witnesses people from all cultures end their period of night time shelter, traditionally a time of hiding to protect against the unknown, to reawaken with the need for action, movement, exercise. The re-assumption of life and the return of vision.
This somewhat eclectic study into the diversity – and yet somehow similarity – of humans at that golden time shows the world as a bundle of squirming activity in some places and eerie silence and desertion in others.
Louise explains that RITUALS @ DAWN is a very personal project, borne from a need to take a moment to breath when she found herself immersed in edgy photojournalism work often running at a mad speed.
“I yearned for that peace I had initially sought, and found, with a camera in hand just meandering the streets when I first became fascinated with photography as a teenager.
As my career developed, I found myself in fascinating places around the world but often short on time to dig beneath the surface of either a tourist façade or schedule of an organisation sponsoring me in some of the edgier places in Africa. So, I started a habit of wandering out at dawn. That beautiful time when we see the death of night replaced by the birth of the new day.”
As a result, Louise spent many years awakening at dawn wherever she was in the world to go take photographs.
“Sometimes, this meant dragging a guard/driver along with me if the landscape was not deemed safe for a western woman alone with her camera. Other times, it was a lonely time in deserted city streets. Or, I would find myself dodging crowds as they hurried to work, or joined packs of tourists attempting to capture the same magic moment as I was.
Dawn for me is that sleepy time to walk amidst the changing light and colours. Sometimes I strip the colour out and let the black and white tell the story of shadows cast and events unravelling slowly like a dog stretching from a long sleep. I too slowly waken as I wander with the emerging light and curiously watch what other people are doing in this dawn time around me.
When I bring myself out from behind the camera, I gently chat with those around me. I enjoy the soft morning chatter ether of bird song or talk. I ask questions and enjoy hearing the responses that add a new layer to my photos. Ready to be added to the next morning to augment the narrative I hope to visually depict.”
Louise explains that she prefers to meander, both externally and internally.
“My camera is the perfect apparatus enabling this. I can wander slowly peering out through my viewfinder at what I observe around me. I slowly watch events unravel – 360 degrees. I turn circles, watching the light change and dance around and between people and objects in its path. I like to stand and watch it all. Or, wander along with it. I cannot stand in the one place for hours waiting for the perfect moment to happen. I see tripods standing erect with their human standing finger poised above the viewfinder for that decisive moment to CLICK. Drives me nuts. I see the light doing something and I wander around chasing it, moving with it, bending, climbing, wandering along immersing myself in what is happening all around and between it. I love seeing it bounce about. Light is not a stationary thing. So I cannot be myself. I must move with it.
Dawn is my favourite time to do so."
This body of work documents the years of travel for Louise's international photojournalism projects through to very recent images that offer a reflection of her feelings during the COVID lockdown on her property in Northern New South Wales, Australia.