Former Port Mac resident and brilliant photographer Josh Hedge has travelled around quite a bit since we last spoke to him four years ago … he’s currently happily settled in the Byron area, and now has three books to his name (one just recently released). We chat to Josh about travel, life, photography and writing …
Hi Josh. When we last spoke a little over four years ago, you were pursuing your passion for photography. What’s been keeping you busy since?
Gosh, a lot! Over the years I’ve built up some really nice work with photography. I was contracted with the company Tree Of Life for a few years, as well as freelancing for quite a lot of labels and companies outside of that. Work with photography gave me the opportunity to travel across Australia and overseas, where I was able to meet so many incredible people. I’ve been able to hold exhibitions with my more creative side of photography, as opposed to portrait work, which have been really cool experiences.
Whereabouts do you call home these days?
I’ve been living in the Byron region for around three years now. I’ve never lived in Byron Bay itself; I’ve found myself living in Suffolk Park, Wilsons Creek and now Bangalow. I guess I kind of just ended up here in a way … I didn’t know anyone when I moved here and I had only been to the area once, but it has been the best decision of my life so far.
I think a lot of people who know of Byron but haven’t necessarily been here can get a wrong impression of it. Don’t get me wrong; it’s absolute paradise and there’s a very laid back nature that comes with living here. But the rate of self-employed people who are very successful at what they do is the most inspiring aspect of it all. Being surrounded by other creatives who are truly living their dream has helped my enormously.
Where are some places you’ve travelled to?
I haven’t clocked up to much time overseas – mainly because I just love Australia so much. Anytime I find myself overseas and I’m just about to return home, I always end up thinking, “Why did I leave in the first place?” Ha ha! I love going away, but Australia just ticks all the boxes for me …
I had a pretty life changing experience a few years ago when I went to Egypt, though. We have our set ways here in the Western world and don’t take the time to experience the Eastern. In a country that was predominantly Muslim, I can’t speak highly enough of their kindness, generous and loving nature; they welcomed me in as if it was home, and it’s such a shame the way in which we have a set idea of judgement against Muslims in the Western world. The trip itself was incredible – being immersed in structures that were built many thousands of years ago and experiencing all of the ancient beauty and knowledge.
You’ve added author to your list of accomplishments! Describe the process of writing your first book, Seeds of Truth …
I never expected this to happen! I’ve always loved and enjoyed writing in journals; I can remember being in my early teenage years and really loving it. I never expected to write one book, and now I have three, which I’ve published, so it’s hard to comprehend at times.
Seeds for Truth was my first book, and my main motivation was I wanted to write a book I wish I had read when I was younger and going through some hard times with depression … a book to really put everything into perspective in a simple, nurturing and open minded way.
Your second book, Flowers for Growth, followed quickly on the heels if your first book. What’s it about?
Flowers For Growth is a lot more in depth and requires a bit more “focus”. It’s my personal learnings of certain aspects of the world I find interesting – such as religion. I had a huge fascination of why there is so much separation in our world. Once I started learning about all religions as a whole, rather than just one, I came to realise that almost every single religion believes in the exact same thing, all of the stories are relatively similar, but the religions are all against each other – because they think they are right and the other is wrong.
Also, ancient cultures’ religion was simply nature, so to speak, which is an area we have lost touch with, because of technology and developments. I have a chapter seeing technology as a threat to humanity, as I personally feel like sooner or later it’s going to control too many aspects of our day-to-day lives, and we will be left not doing much at all…
How do you feel both writing and photography have changed your relationship to the world?
They’ve shaped who I am today enormously. I think for all artists what you create is mostly just a self-portrait of yourself. It’s grown me as a person, because you learn a lot about yourself and the world in general when you follow a creative and self-employed path, because the majority of the time it’s just you on your own; you learn the lessons firsthand, the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, the inspirations and blocks – it’s all you.
It’s enabled me to find a peace within myself that I didn’t really think was possible when I was younger struggling with depression. Things still happen in life and challenges still arise, but I just move through it all in a relatively calm manner now. It’s helped me truly see the beauty of all that I’m surrounded by …
What’s next in the pipeline for you?
I’m taking it pretty easy at the moment. I had a pretty big few months towards the end of last year, as I had an exhibition to coincide with the launch of my third book [Fruits for Love]. I have a big year of travels coming up in 2018, which I’m excited about. At the moment I’m focusing on getting my books out there in the big wide world, but at the same time just enjoying each day as it comes.
Where’s the best place to see what you’re up to and buy your books?
I post on a kind of regular basis on my instagram – @joshhedge and my website for all three books is www.seedsfortruth.com which is available for worldwide and Australian shipping.
Interview by Jo Robinson.