In the 80’s I was a member of the Australian photographers’ co-operative agency, Rapport. The offices and studio were in Redfern, the heartland of inner-city Sydney’s urban aboriginal population. During this period, I became involved with working with the community.
When the Redfern Aboriginal Legal Aid worker, Cec Patten, brought his young son, Wesley to the studio, I thought Cec might like some pictures. Wes didn’t take much cajoling to get him in front of the camera and he laughingly took his shirt off to pose as his then role model, Batman.
Shooting with a Mamiya RB67, I managed to get nine smiles out of Wes, before he decided he’d had enough. so I resignedly hit the shutter for the last frame of the roll, just to finish it off. It wasn’t until I was later going over the contact sheets, that I realised Wes had made me the gift of a picture that seemed to say it all. Proud, defiant, not going to pushed around. Take it or leave it, Mister!
Amongst other things, Wesley Patten grew up to be a talented professional rugby footballer.
(For those of a technical bent: the camera was a Mamiya RB67 with 90mm lens and the lighting was a single Bowens Quad studio flash in a large softbox. The film was Ilford Pan F.)