The people behind the faces behind the names
Most people know me as Chris Weston, the photographer. But a list of publishing credits and client names doesn’t really tell you who I am.
I love learning and I love having fun and I have two children who remind me of this every day. They are my greatest teachers. Josh, the eldest, constantly throws back at me the pearls of parental wisdom I’m constantly throwing at him – demonstration, I guess, that we should all do as we say and not as we do. Hollie is the impish one, reminding me that creativity comes from within us if only we dare to remove the blinkers and shackles of knowledge and experience that, as adults, we burden ourselves with.
I also strive to be better. Not just a better photographer but a better person, too. As a child my mother taught me that anyone can do their best but the people who make a difference are those who do better than their best. Here, Monique is my mentor. When the cloud of procrastination hangs over me (as it has a tendency to do) she is the sunshine that penetrates it or, more often than not, the hurricane that blows it away.
And, yes, there is my photography. Photography has been with me from a very young age and I love that it is still a soulmate. And in a funny kind of way, after nearly 40-years learning its techniques, it is only now that I am realising what a great teacher it has been to me.
Photography has given me the heart with which I see the world. It has introduced me to many friends, who brighten up my days, and has opened up the space for me to be who I am. It has not only given me my living, it has also given me a lucky life – a life where I get to walk with bears and hang out with gorillas; where I can swim with tigers and hold hands with an orang-utan. A life where, in any given moment, I can honestly say, “I want nothing more.” A life I would wish for you.
I grew up in nature and nature is in my soul. Respect for the sanctity of all life is something I’ve always felt and from my earliest memories I’ve loved animals. I remember once persuading my parents to let me have a Great Dane over for a weekend. She stayed for 9-years.
My home is still full of animals – seven cats, to be precise. I adore them, not just for who they are, which is loving, insightful, funny … mischievous (a mirror of myself, Chris tells me), but also for the lessons they teach me. I believe that, like them, we should live more of our lives in the moment, something Shen, a ball of fluff with an elongated eyebrow hair, reminds me when he insists on cuddles irrespective of where I’ve just come from or what I have still to do.
That “to do” is often related to the office but I do sometimes get to indulge my passion for wildlife. I have always felt at home in the ocean and experiences are few that surpass the swell of emotion I feel when I free-dive with dolphins and whales. What has been amazing to me, though, is to be so close to the animals I’ve met on our trips – animals the media portray as dangerous but which, when you treat them and their homes with respect and openness, show you the true meaning of togetherness and connection.
I realize from these experiences how lucky I am and being grateful for all I have is something else I try to adhere to every day. Whenever I find myself moping, I look to another of my cats, Amara. When she was 2-years old, she was taken and tortured. Twice the vet wanted to put her down but she wasn’t so keen on the idea and ran away to heal herself. A month later she returned perfectly restored but with only two legs. She’s eight now and never once in the six years in between have I seen her looking sorry for herself. For her it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is. I try to have the same approach to life but I am still just her apprentice.
Amara’s survival was a miracle and perhaps that is why I believe that nothing is impossible. Of course, we live in a society that attempts to teach us otherwise but I never was a big fan of school. I believe we need to rebalance our lives and be more in tune with our intuition. It was Einstein who said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift; the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
As my animals teach me, so my family and close friends keep my spirits high with their love and laughter. With them I feel truly connected. And then spirit whispers to tell me that, in truth, we are all connected – that we are all part of this big whole, that we all have a gift to share and that even in the bad times there’s always a lesson to learn. And I’m always learning. I believe it’s our purpose, to raise our level of consciousness through personal growth.
And when the office closes, it’s nature that helps quiet my mind. I might sit on top of the hill between the office and my home and soak in the night sky, fixing on the stars. Here I find my spiritual home. In these moments, I’m transformed. My heart opens and I realize that life truly is much bigger than we perceive. I find beauty in that thought and it’s that beauty I hope to impart with my work here.