Jill captures real moments, places and people through the lens of her camera and her writing as she travels and makes connections around the world.
By Jill Kozak
A writer by nature, a photographer by accident, is what I tell people. I set out for my round-the-world trip in January 2012, taking a lovely Canon PowerShot A2200 along for the ride. The results have been good, my photos capturing moments in my travels I cherish, people I’ve met along the way and places I hope to see again. When I set out for my journey, I believed that I would work and write my way around the world. As fluent as I am in the written word, I realized that what sets my travel writing apart are the poignant photos that accompany my pieces. There are times when I stand stunned at a beautiful sunset, when I think no photo can do the moment justice. This is the photographer’s job: to catch a moment in time so that it might be remembered later. In times of sheer, unadulterated beauty, sometimes it’s best to leave the camera in the bag and live the present. Other times I am overcome by a duty to freeze action so that I can reflect on it later. There is a visceral quality of photography that cannot be replaced. While writing tries to explain with words a vision for the mind’s eye, a photo gives a bit of an edge so that one can properly visualize a place, a moment, a memory. Some of the best photos I’ve taken while traveling have been spontaneous. All of the best photos of me have been taken in a moment of exciting adventure, the signature “smile and pose” technique falling to the wayside. It wasn’t until I arrived in Australia that I even began to consider myself a photographer. Before my trip, I was just a writer who happened to tote a camera around. It was that trip, in particular a visit to Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens, that changed my mind about my talents. Not only could I write about an experience, but I can explain, through photos, what it was like to live a moment. Since embarking on my journey, I’ve been pleased with the sentiment that I am a writer and a photographer. I’ve learned that the two often go hand-in-hand. Where the written word lacks, the photograph sustains and vice versa. It’s a symbiotic relationship of the most artistic type. As a photographer, a writer and ultimately an artist, I’ve been able to connect with other people from all over the world with my work. I wrote a piece that just recently got published in Native Foreigner Magazine, an online travel-zine featuring some of my photography from Bondi and Coogee Beaches, located on the eastern shores of Sydney, Australia. I have also connected with other artists on a personal level, most recently a painter friend of mine wanting to adapt my photograph into a painting. The connection between us has grown more personal now that we are collaborating on an art project, of my photography’s derivative. Photography and writing has given me the unique outlet I had been searching for my whole life to become worldly and connected. Before traveling, I yearned to have international friends, photos from abroad and stories about my trip. Aided with both tools, I’ve been able to view the world as a real place, full of real-life experiences, all of which are waiting to be captured by me. Photography is special because it aims to focus on real moments and places. When you pair the visual of photography with descriptive, poignant writing, what you have is the closest approximation of what it was like to live a moment. The coming together of forces is powerful and often very moving. Always a self-proclaimed writer, I’m now proud to call myself a photographer as well. It’s my hope that my life story continues to unfold and flourish with the help of my allies: the word and the photo. I am reliant on the quality of both to convey the breadth of my experience while traveling.