I have been fortunate to witness the enormous changes to the ancient theatre site since joining the Paphos Theatre project in1997. Then a few tiered seat platforms jutted out from amongst the bushes and topsoil, while now a substantial theatre has been uncovered from its dormant state. There is much yet to do to fully assess the Theatre and the adjoining structures as the team grapple with understanding brought on by exploring and experiencing the site. My contribution is by photographing the site over 14 years that creates a record of those changes and the photographs that can then be used to interpret the site and features. There have also been fantastic leaps in technology especially during the last decade, which can assist us in “seeing more clearly”. This includes hanging a digital camera from a helium filled balloon for aerial photos of the site.
As senior photographer for the site and artefacts there has also been the change from a film based recording to digital imaging. Digital photography has brought new challenges, however overall the digital process allows the archaeological photographer unparallel advances and with processing no longer dependant on chemicals and all the other variables to give more consistent results. Also without the cost of film I can take many more images, typically around 6,000 for both a full site and artefact season. So far this season just concentrating on the studio I have created over 1700 photos where an individual object may have 8 or 10 different views. When studying the material and objects back in Australia it is the drawings and photographs that provide much of our information so getting the best out of each item is important.
One of the exciting things about being an archaeological photographer is the handling of all the best items, often photographing them ‘in-situ’ when they are discovered, and then again in the ‘studio’ where the detail can be brought out with lights and macro lenses. Being a photographer is in a way a passport in to some many different situations that many people would never have an opportunity to experience, and certainly archaeology is one of those areas of life. It that has so much to offer if you’re prepared for the often adverse conditions and challenges that are part of the equation.