He was imperiously intimidating. “What’s your brief son? What were you told to shoot? Who are you working for? This is just not good enough! I want to be photographed here; in front of the portrait of the old man!”. I didn’t argue. This portrait of Sir Warwick Fairfax is from a shoot for a John Fairfax Limited annual report sometime around 1980. I got the distinct impression he was disappointed that he couldn’t fire me, because I wasn’t a Fairfax staffer…
Category Archives: portraits
For many years, my son has sported long hair, just as I did in the 70s. For him, it was probably not so much youthful rebellion, but a reaction to a lack of thatch in his early years. He didn’t have enough hair to comb until he was about three years old. When he was finally allowed autonomy over his hair, he grew it down to his shoulder-blades. Being somewhat handsome featured (taking after his mother), it became a bit of a joke that he was continually being mistaken for my daughter. This was before he had developed facial hair. I used to tell him that if we were to travel together in future it was either grow a beard or get a haircut.
Well he finally followed my advice. Listens to his old dad, does my boy:-)
I shot this late last year. Kim has since grown his hair back…for those of a technical bent, I lit this using two banks of fluorescent lights that I used to use as light-boxes for editing transparencies. Stood on end, they give a beautiful soft light and great highlights in the eyes.
The first in-print publication of pictures from my project This Working Life has just been published over 8 pages in the portfolio section of the highly respected Tasmanian magazine 40° South. If you are interested in Tasmania and all things Tasmanian, subscribe now.
To coincide with this I’ve posted some more of the pictures here. If you want to know more about this project please visit my This Working Life blog.
“Looking at pictures of work can provoke thoughts and feelings about work and life…it leads each to ponder in our own personal terms, not just the subject at hand but the universal nature of human existence.” Ferdinand Protzmann The World of Work.
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Theodore Roosevelt
“Finding the right work is like discovering your own soul in the world.” Sir Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
“The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.” Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. - Buddha
“I do not believe we can repair the basic fabric of society until people who are willing to work have work. Work organizes life. It gives structure and discipline to life.” Bill Clinton
This year is my 50th year as a professional photographer. But more importantly, today is also the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones first gig at the Marquee Club in London. To celebrate our mutual longevity, I thought it might be appropriate to again post my picture of Mick Jagger, taken at the Hyde Park free concert on July 5, 1969.
Brian Jones had died only two days previously and this was the first concert for replacement guitarist, Mick Taylor. And so here we are both still rocking on 50 years down the track…long may we continue…
In 1964 I worked on construction progress shots on a space tracking station for NASA at Tidbinbilla near Canberra. A year later, as a young staffer on The Australian I photographed its commissioning by the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. These are a couple of my pictures from the March 20, 1965 edition of the paper.
If you are wondering about the significance of the thistle in the left of frame, its symbolism is now lost in the mists of time. However, the explanation is this: aware that Menzies had recently been made a Knight of the Royal Order of the Thistle, I thought the visual reference appropriate. Actually, flies being somewhat of a pest around rural Canberra, NASA had the prescience to put an aerosol can of newly invented product on every VIP seat. Aerogard. My overly literate caption was a tad too much for the subs at the paper. It began, “Knight of the Thistle and Lord of the Flies…”. They stepped on the William Golding reference.
Last month I was visiting a vineyard at Cambridge in Tasmania and saw that it was overlooked by the University of Tasmania’s radio telescope, one of a network of four across Australia. On visiting it to take some closer shots, I discovered that this was the very same dish I had photographed nearly 50 years ago, under construction and at the opening. NASA had donated it to the University in 1985 complete with a US built left hand drive truck with a cherry-picker for servicing it.
In shooting for the Day in the World project on the 15th May, I decided to include the telescope in my pictures, killing two birds with one stone, getting pictures for my Working Life project at the same time by photographing Brett Reid, the observatory manager against part of the machinery he looks after.
Brett, kindly took me up in the old cherry-picker to get a good angle on him, the dish and a glorious Tasmanian afternoon sky. It was great to see that something I had been involved with nearly 50 years ago, was, like me, still working.
While searching for a print today, I came across a little packet of Polaroids. In the fag end of the 80s I had occasional gigs as a consultant to Polaroid. I worked on product launches for several cameras as well as a range of their films. While Polaroid paid well for my involvement, they were also very generous with film and cameras. The copious supply of free film allowed me to indulge in a photographic playfulness that I only rediscovered with the arrival of digital photography. Here are a few of my favourites:
While in Perth a couple of weeks ago, I had the dubious pleasure of being on the other side of the camera when I was photographed by Nic Ellis, a photojournalist with the West Australian newspaper. He had generously organised a foundry for me to shoot in for my long-term project, This Working Life and had also deemed my project newsworthy enough for the paper.
For a photojournalist, being photographed from time-to-time is probably good for the soul, a pin-prick to the balloon of our vanity and certainly good for understanding of what we often put our subjects through. Now I’ll do anything to help a fellow PJ get the picture they want, but I found this particular instance especially uncomfortable.
This was nothing to do with Nic. He is a sensitive and highly skilled shooter. It was more to do with the particular subject matter we were dealing with. It was hot in that foundry. After all they were melting steel. To get the particular effect he wanted meant placing me very close to several furnaces. The peculiarly pained expression on my face is just that: pain. I was waiting for my shirt to start smouldering and smoke to curl around my head.
Don’t get me wrong, Nic. I’m not complaining. It really was a great experience being photographed by you and it added to my fund of anecdotes from this trip to Western Australia. That foundry also provided be with some fine pictures for my project. Thank you, and I hope to return the favour when I come back in September. Maybe you could pose for me up to your neck in freezing water at an oyster farm, or something like that?
For the full story in the West Australian go here.
Conventional though the pictures may be, I just couldn’t resist posting this slide show of Balinese Legong dancers performing in Ubud. Their grace and beauty was incomparable…
In Bali last month, I took the time to re-connect with an old friend. I met Nyoman Purpa, an art dealer in Ubud in 1977 and would visit him again and again, whenever I returned. It had been 25 years since I was last in Indonesia and taking a trip there with my daughter during the school holidays, I decided to seek him out. This is Purpa as I knew him in 1977; a laid-back, easy-going seller of paintings, with a few motorbikes for hire, as a sideline:
Though Ubud had changed almost beyond, recognition, Purpa was not hard to find. His gallery which was once set amongst rice paddies is now part of some of the most expensive commercial real estate in Bali.
He was still the same, smiling, optimistic Purpa of old, though now comparatively wealthy. A dedicated family man, he had helped set up his twin daughters with their own fashion and jewellery business. His son, is a well know rock musician, appearing regularly on Indonesian television.
After filling in the years over a few Bintang beers, we decided to update his image with a new portrait:
The years have been kind to my old friend.