I once had a cello called Wanda. I was very fond of her. She introduced me to all sorts of people, in particular boys from the nearby high school with whom my all-girls school had formed a co-ed orchestra. I would haul her up the hill from the train station to the weekly practice sessions, thankful for the little skateboard wheels mum had welded to her hard case. Because of Wanda, I became friends with a younger boy, whom I sat next to in the cello line-up. I also became chummy with some talented girls in my year whom I didn’t have much to do with at school because they were busy representing the state in maths competitions and the like. Our orchestra even went on an overseas tour, all 100 of us: teenage girls and boys and arguably not enough adults, playing John Williams’s Star Wars theme and Ravel’s wonderful, crescendo-ing Bolero in cathedrals and halls across Europe and the US. I have Wanda to thank for some of my most treasured high school experiences. Now Wanda has retired to her handsome black hard case. Wanda, I will forever love you, but I have a new, smaller friend taking me places these days: my yet-to-be-named camera. She and I have become very close. My growing collection of lenses are the difffferent outfifits she wears for difffferent occasions. The 24–70mm all-rounder lens is like the jeans and T-shirt with a casual blazer combo; the sort of outfifit that can take you almost anywhere. The 50mm 1.4 is her little black dress. And together we go out and explore the world. “The camera is like a friend and you can go places and feel like you’re with someone,” said Annie Leibovitz in an interview in 1998. “It’s a licence and it makes you feel you have a right to walk around.” Annie, I totally know what you mean. My camera is a ticket into worlds I have not been to. She is my permission slip to approach the unapproachable and even a comforting shield in what might usually be uncomfortable situations for me, such as chatting with strangers at a party. She enables me to momentarily forget about myself, when my world becomes only what I am seeing through that lens and that non-stop commentary in my head is quiet. All this and she doesn’t even have a name! I’ve always liked watching the world from the sidelines. Gleaning snippets from the performances of others and squirrelling them home, where I can write about them, or edit the photos of them. In this sense, some fundamental part of photography is selfifish. I guess all watchers are a bit selfifish. We are stealing what is not ours and then making it our own. To borrow Helen Garner’s words from The Children’s Bach (which she didn’t write about photography but are, in my opinion, perfectly relevant), we watchers enjoy “the small prickle of power that comes to the one who rides in the back seat”. But, even with its questionable motives, I’ve found that photography can bring about moments of great connection. There aren’t many photographers where I live, so when someone needs an image, they are starting to call me. I took the headshots for the local accountancy fifirm’s website, setting up a makeshift studio at home, where I had the chance to meet each of the team, one by one. It was a surprisingly intimate exchange where I felt the vulnerability those of us who are not professional models feel when in front of a camera. Recently I have also banded together with a friend to take pictures of all the businesses in town to promote the area as a whole. Just as Wanda introduced me to all sorts of new people and experiences, so too does my camera. She is a charming fifixer, paving the way for me in a relatively new town and giving me a reason to connect with my community. She is my new Wanda, albeit slightly more inquisitive. Any ideas for a name?