Hi,  my name is Brian Harmer. I am married, an an enthusiastic amateur photographer and happily retired since 2011. I also enjoy narrative writing.

For sixteen years beginning in February 1994, before the word “blog” was known, and long before the mainstream news media saw any virtue in having a web presence, I posted via an email list and as a web page, a weekly compilation of news items from New Zealand.  Called “WYSIWYG News”, it was also posted on the now moribund Usenet forum “soc.culture.new-zealand”. Targeted at expat Kiwis, and indeed anyone else with an interest in New Zealand, it reached a peak in about 2003 with 4,500 email subscribers, a hundred or so who interacted with it on usenet, and an unknowable number who looked at the web site. 

As a preamble to each issue, I wrote two or three (sometimes more) pages of what I characterised as my “purple prose”.  These were my reflections on events and places in my life. Mostly they were descriptive pieces extolling the beauty of  our wonderful country, and occasionally  they covered more personal events or family events, graduations, weddings, births, and deaths. I enjoyed writing them, and to my surprise, received a steady stream of encouragement to do more.

Over the years, the mainstream newsmedia finally understood that there was a market, if only they could find a business model, for their product on the web, and the original news-based purpose for the existence of WYSIWYG News was eroded. When I finally closed it in 2010, there were still 1,300 subscribed recipients, many of who wrote kind things and encouraged me to continue the purple prose part of the exercise. I needed the break, and so, nothing has happened until now, and what follows may, or may not meet their expectations. As before my main expectation is that I should have fun doing it.

Much has happened in my life since the cessation of WYSIWYG News, including the birth of Otis, my third grandson, and sixth grandchild.  Of direct relevance to the resumption of my writing, is my retirement.

Prior to that, with the aid of the Hutt Camera Club, and attendance at the regional and national conventions of the Photographic Society of New Zealand, I reignited my dormant passion for photography (and spent a lot on equipment on the way). But before I go there, for the sake of any old friends who may be rejoining me, I should tell you that the family is all well, and I am revelling in the business of being retired. So now, with the introductions and pleasantries behind us, what’s the purpose of this blog?

Well in the first instance it provides me with a platform from which to resume writing, an activity I greatly enjoy. An audience is a prerequisite for most authors including me. I hope that those who read what I have to say will tell me what can be done better, and let me know if they enjoy what they see and read. Of course affirmation is always a pleasure to receive, but constructive criticism is where real learning and development occur. Please feel free to express your opinion.

What will the blog be about? Anything that takes my fancy, but as in the days of the original purple prose it is likely to arise from things I see and experience, in my family, in my travels, or anything else I feel like. It is unlikely to be political in any partisan sense, nor indeed technical.

It is no secret that I am a theist (not an atheist), and a Christian, but that will manifest itself in the way I live and the attitudes I profess, and certainly not in any deliberate preaching. Please don’t waste your time or mine trying to change that. I shall simply not engage in that conversation.

A major difference between this venture and the old WYSIWYG news is that my writing and my photography will be tightly integrated. Each post will contain at least one image (often more), and it will be related to the writing. Sometimes the image will illustrate the points made in the prose, and sometimes the prose will attempt to interpret the image.

What kind of images will they be? Always safe for work and family. Usually they will be representational, and sometimes they will be impressionistic or experimental.


13 replies on “About”

Hi Brian. Your “About” doesn’t do justice to the “whakapapa” of your blog. May I suggest at some suitable future date that you move the preamble of your first post to this general area. Meantime, ii is great to hear from you again and I love the concept/discipline involved in your new blog. Best wishes from a cold and wet but ultimately bland Copenhagen (without anything like the chutzpah or malice found in Wellington’s weather). — Gerald

Hi Brian, welcome ‘back’.
Since you are a retirement rookie, I thought I’d comment from the point of view of a retirement veteran. I’m almost 71 but have been retired for about 16 years. About 12 years ago when my wife also retired we moved from Vancouver to a rural island community where I became a full-time retiree. I had graduated as an engineer and had worked in computing systems with IBM and with SFU and UBC.
Like you I was into photography and writing and joined a local artists’ guild as a photographer. The first winter when outside work was too treacherous I started attending life drawing sessions with some of the artists. I’m sure like me you’ve drawn or sketched or diagrammed all your life. But I’d never ‘done art’. And the first life drawings I did were small and neat and really quite crappy. Life drawing is somewhat like a puzzle – you have a time limit for each pose and you try to get a drawing or likeness completed in the 1 or 2 or 5 or 10 minute limit. Soon I was drawing like the others – more quickly and freely and much larger and really enjoying the experience. It was liberating yet serious and fun. Others were using paints and after a while I tried that too. Anyway it was a real awakening and introduction into another artistic area. After 11 years I still photograph but now more with an eye to painting. I still like to write but it too has been lessened. Often when I get to a place I want to paint I’ll sit and free write about it first. It lets you discover what has caught your eye or is special about the place and makes you concentrate on that aspect. It’s a very effective technique.
This is all pretty long winded but my point is to try some of the other creative arts. When I first retired I kept busy trying to keep up to date and current. Now I’m blissfully ignorant. Computers have become simply ‘magical’ tools. I read much more than I ever did and have learned to say ‘no’ to requests for volunteer projects. I enjoy the incredible creative diversity of my artistic friends and their usually off-the-wall approaches to things. I still am what I am and was but I’m much more tolerant and appreciative of others art. It’s such a different world to the world of information systems.
I’m sure you’ll do just fine as a retiree. Enjoy the journey.
Bob Harmer
Galiano Island, BC

So happy to be able to read your narratives again and now with photos! Thanks for inviting us back.

Dear Brian,
Welcome back! I was always very happy to receive your former weekly news ‘bulletins – living as I did at that time in Senegal West Africa. I am now in Paris so can get NZ news easily. As a Huttite, I am very pleased with the references to my home town and all the Wellington region. Congrats on the photos as well.

Thank you Brian, I’ve missed you – and Wellington which I have not seen since 1987. I enjoy your detailed reminisences etc.
paul robinson

Hi, as a Canadian married to a Kiwi from Lower Hutt I just wanted to say that I have really been enjoying your photos and commentary. So many memories and so well documented. If you are ever near Ottawa give us a call and we can show you the sights.

Bless you Brian! Thanks for the news over the ’email’ years and now for your photoblogs!
From Mike, former Wellingtonian BNZ’er (from Bulls really!) but been away in Christian missions since 1986.

Hello Brian, I enjoyed the photo of ENSCO 107 in your 3 February blog. Would you be interested in allowing Ensco to use your photograph? If so, I would appreciate a high-res 300 dpi version.

Hi Brian

I have been enjoying your blog since c.2001. You may wish to take a look at the blog: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/. A lot is this site will probably be of no interest to you but there is a “Readers Wildlife Photos” section – he usually posts at least one submittal to this section every day. The photos range from ordinary to spectacular, such as:


Your recent creepy crawlie pics motivated me to write this comment as this appears to be the author’s primary field of study. I’m sure he would be glad to receive some of your photos.

We’ve been avid followers of Wysiwyg for many years. Are your images available for purchase? I’ve been searching through my personal NZ photos to enlarge and frame but none of them are good enough. I would love to have some of your magic hanging on my walls.
Tina McCarthy, Austin, TX

Hi there, I’d very much like to use any images that you might have of the S.E.5as flying at Omaka in a forthcoming book on the type – I’ve got plenty of workshop photos from TVAL but no aerial pics. Would you please be able to email me? Many thanks.

Gidday BrIan. ..stumbled across this. Glad you are still writing as always enjoyed your posts and our chats…big hug to you and Mary….has been interesting week so far….o of Honeysuckle

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