Lyn takes a fresh look at life through her camera lens

Published on 15 April 2024

Lyn Darton

In one of Lyn’s two photography clubs, a different destination is selected every fortnight for her group to explore with a camera.

“Last week we met at the Ricketts Point tea house and before that we did a tour of the dome at the Royal Exhibition Building,” says Lyn. “It’s marvellous because you get out and about and have a cup of coffee and visit places you never knew existed.”

As Lyn explains, being a member of a club like this means you have the chance to take your camera out every fortnight to practice and experiment. You also get the chance to chat over coffee, learn from other photographers and critique and praise one another’s creations.

Lyn first joined this photography group, which is a part of the U3A community, about 19 years ago. While she has always been a creative person – she taught art for years at a tech school and then at a high school – photography was something she began to pursue in earnest after her early retirement, which followed the sudden death of her daughter.

“For six years we did a charity to raise money for leukaemia, which was what my daughter died from,” says Lyn. “The only thing I could do was something positive for my daughter; that’s the only thing that got me out of bed. And it turns out it was the best thing for all of us.”

After a while, Lyn decided to start concentrating on photography, having previously taken an interest in photography while teaching and travelling.

For the past 15 years, Lyn has also been a member of the Southern Suburbs Photographic Society, which is a photographic club that runs photo competitions each month.

In 2019, Lyn won Photo of the Year for an incredible self-portrait entitled ‘Under Scrutiny from Aunty May’. The photo also won second prize at the Victorian Association of Photographic Societies (VAPS) Convention in 2020.

Lyn's photo,

Last year though, Lyn became incredibly ill with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain condition that’s more common in women and people over 50.

“I was so sick last year, I could hardly move,” says Lyn. “I read in two different places that trigeminal neuralgia is more painful than shingles, and I had it for seven months.”

The condition so severely affected her energy levels that in addition to everything else, she was forced to stop taking photos entirely. Fortunately, after an oesophagus condition followed by COVID, Lyn’s health has now improved, and thanks to a little domestic support from AccessCare, Lyn can redirect her energies to the things that matter to her most.

“Because of Leila [my support worker], I can now do a bit of photography again because I don't have to worry about cleaning the house,” explains Lyn. “Leila’s just great.”

She has even submitted a new photo into this year’s national photographic competition in Warragul.

“I'd seen these timed shots where photographers had superimposed three flowers together,” says Lyn, explaining that she wanted to try and create her own version of this effect.

“I couldn’t do that with my camera, so I had to do it by hand. I took three photographs of poppies, and I layered them all up using my computer.

“The poppies were in colour, but I reduced the colour – not black and white, just reduced it – and I thought, ‘Wow! Yes, that’s it!’”

The result – an image titled ‘A Short Fragile Beautiful Life’ – was so striking that it has already received high praise from Lyn’s peers.

Lyn's photo

“It got Digital Photo of the Month [with my Southern Suburbs group], then it got Digital Photo of the Year. And then it got Colour Image of the Year for the whole Southern Suburbs Club.”

The president of her Southern Suburbs group has now asked her to give a talk on playing with Photoshop, so that other members can learn about her techniques and way of working.

“I read a quote the other day – ‘Art is about exploring, inventing and taking risks’ – and I thought, there’s the heading for my talk!”

It also sums up Lyn’s approach to her photography quite well, as she’s always aiming to capture something new and special through the lens of her camera.

“Thanks to Leila, I can now spend more time taking photographs,” says Lyn. “And I insist on spending time doing photography.” 

‘A Short Fragile Beautiful Life’ has been entered in Warragul’s annual international photographic exhibition, which is taking place this year from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 May at the West Gippsland Arts Centre.

Inset photos (top of page to bottom):

  1. 'Under Scrutiny from Aunty May'.
  2. 'A Short Fragile Beautiful Life'.
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