Fabulous 2016!

Photography helps me to make some sort of sense of the world!  With every photo that I make, I take small steps in interpreting and connecting with my environment and the people that I encounter. In the last year I have experienced some major lifestyle changes. I moved interstate and am now back living in a city.  After almost fifteen years in a small coastal town, I love the vibrancy of living in a more multicultural place – it feels like home.

I have been a regular visitor to South Korea for many years and 2016 was no exception when I spent five weeks photographing and exploring the east coast from Busan up to the North Korean border. Korea continues to be a favourite place to visit and photograph.

During my stay in Korea I received news that my eldest daughter was going to have a baby!  The happy thought of a new member in the family has warmly coloured the feel of this last year and we are looking forward to greeting our first grandchild later this month!

The past twelve months seemed to be dominated with kids and dogs.  Despite the old warning to ‘never work with children and animals,’ this was exactly what we seemed to have done for a big part of the year.  Not only did my youngest daughter come home with a rescue dog, hello Maxi!, my wife and I finished the year off with a ‘Healthy Dogs, Healthy Peoples’ project in far north Queensland.  Working in a remote aboriginal community was a rewarding and challenging opportunity and for us another chance to use storytelling and photography as a form of  communication.

Every year I try and select a set of photographs that best reflect the past year. Here are 16 from 2016.

Deadly Dogs!

From the moment I took my seat I knew this flight was different to all the previous ones I had flown on.  For a start, the first class passengers were wearing high visibility vests, not suits, half of my fellow travellers wore embroidered polo shirts or sporting team regalia and a small minority were on crutches. There was no mistaking, I was on a regional flight heading to one of Australia’s remote regions, to be precise, Lockhart River, a coastal Aboriginal community situated on the eastern coast of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, Australia.

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The Great Barrier Reef

 

This is also the northernmost town on the east coast of Australia and together with my wife Morgan, I am travelling there to start an arts based education program.  The ‘Healthy Dogs, Healthy People’ project aims to raise awareness about the importance of animal care as a key element in achieving a healthy community.  I have been employed to use photography as a way to communicate this message.

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Storytelling Session

The town’s population of approximately 600 people consists of a mix of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and a small number of non-Aboriginal people working primarily in the service and education sector.  There are also about 1000 dogs in the community! There were some initial ‘eye-rolls’ when we introduced ourselves as artists promoting animal de-sexing, de-worming and de-bunking some myths around caring for dogs.

However, after our first week in the community we have established some trust with key people and are now part of a team of dog champions.  We’ve sung some *deadly songs, and told dog stories with the kids and lined up models for a photo shoot.`

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Puppy Love!

Added to this we have managed to not get bitten by or catch any diseases from the dogs and most importantly not run over any. When it’s 35 degrees, dogs (and puppies) hang out underneath cars!

We are now back in Brisbane for a week to plan the next course of action.  Our original plan of a dog show and a book have now given away to a calendar and a mural, but we are still working on that killer rap and deadly photo!

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The Kids Club in Lockhart River

* ‘deadly’ is an aboriginal expression for cool, excellent or top.

The Ghosts Of Okpo Land – Abandoned Amusement Park In South Korea

I am a regular traveller to South Korea. On Geoje Island, I learned of an abandoned amusement park overlooking the town. The fun park, called Okpo Land, had been closed down in 1999 due to a series of accidents, the last when a young girl tragically fell to her death from a ride.

The park, perched on top of a hill, was in the process of being reclaimed by the surrounding bushland. Although it was deserted, graffti, rubbish and empty beer bottles were evidence that it was still being used as a ‘fun park.’ On that day, I was the only person there, but I had an eerie feeling that I was not alone. Was it my imagination, or was there really a restless spirit inhabiting the area?

I have since returned to Geoje Island but Okpo Land has now been demolished to make room for a hotel. To honour the people who died at this site, author and storyteller Morgan Schatz Blackrose, and I have published a book dedicated to the lost souls of Okpo Land. You can download it as a PDF file for free here:  carousel

Suburban Masters

Test your knowledge of a few 20th century artists and their works.  On a recent walk around a typical Australian suburb, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a host of hitherto unknown works of 20th century masters. Now my appetite is whetted I shall endeavour to unearth more of these lost treasures.

I am a lazy artist!

I’m happy to use whatever gets the work done the easiest and quickest way.  Granted, ‘easy’ and ‘quick’ are relative terms. The idea of achieving results in a shorter time and with less effort has always appealed to me, a decisive factor in my early adoption of digital photography.

In 2001 I purchased my first digital camera, a secondhand Kodak DC220, a 2 (!) megapixel beast of a thing. My film cameras started to gather dust from that point on. Not only did digital photography offer instant images, something that I hadn’t experienced since shooting Polaroids in the 1970’s, it also allowed image manipulation without the need for a dark room.  I was sold!

Nowadays I have a camera that has wifi and I can transfer my photos onto an iPad and edit my images on the go.  This has made a big difference to my travel photography, as I carry my ‘dark room’ in my bag!

In this spirit, I am always happy to try new ways of working with photography and image-making. So this weekend I am exploring the latest instant digital print making method, which kind of takes me back to my early photoshop printmaking methods.  I’ll be posting some images that have been made with the Prisma app.  I should point out, that I am not a fan of heavy manipulated photos but I see this app as creative printmaking method rather than a photo editing tool.

Besides, it’s easy and quick!

FREE eBOOK

reFramedcoverreFRAMED tells the story of Jatisura, a small village in West Java, through a series of portraits. I photographed senior members of the community and interviewed them about their most precious memories of living in the village. The project was conducted with the assistance of the Jatiwangi Art Factory (JAF), a local arts organisation who use art to strengthen their community.

The free eBook contains all of the portraitist and text from the project.