Tag Archives: Australia

Gay marriage in Australia?

OK, this is not about photography, but then I never promised this blog would be entirely about that subject. Just felt I had to share this news.

With man mountain, world champion, Tasmanian axeman coming out in support: gay marriage in Australia? A done deal!

http://www.theage.com.au/national/world-champ-axeman-backs-gay-marriage-20110909-1k11r.html

David Foster, world champion, Tasmanian axeman comes out in support of gay marriage.  © The Age

Oh, how my late and sadly missed friend, Richard Beckett (aka Sam Orr), author of “Axemen, Stand By Your Logs”, a history of woodchopping in Australia, would have delighted in the delicious irony of this.

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This Working Life book

Today, using Blurb.com, I completed and ordered a promotional book I put together to gain additional sponsorship for the This Working Life project. (This Working Life is an ongoing documentation of work in photographs sponsored by Jobs Australia). This is it:

In the introduction, I wrote:

The digital data embedded with the photograph on the opposite page shows (photo of painters painting historic building in Hobart) that I released the shutter on this subject at exactly 8:35:12 a.m. on Tuesday 5th of January 2010.

Studying that picture later in the day, it occurred to me that apart from the chemistry of their paint, little had changed in this craft since the subject of their meticulous attention was built almost 200 years ago. The basic elements of skill and co-ordination of hand and eye were exactly the same as when this Georgian shop-front was first built. For the near future at least, these were two craftsmen whose job was unlikely to be overtaken by the digital revolution.

This set me on a train of thought about the changing nature of work and as I pondered this, I decided to direct my energies towards a long-term photographic documentation of modern work in all its aspects.

My working life has now spanned a period of fifty-one years. For forty-eight of those, I’ve pursued the vocation of photographer. When I started out, flash bulbs were about to be replaced by electronic flash. A photographer’s burn calluses on forefinger and thumb from changing hot flash bulbs were still a matter of professional pride.

It’s been nearly ten years since I last loaded a roll of film into a camera. Until around twenty years ago the technology for making photographs had barely changed in the 175 years since it was invented. But then came digital photography and I delighted in the spontaneity and flexibility it brought to my craft. Sentimental nostalgia for the darkroom, or “the good old days” of film is something that still eludes me.

Photographing work for almost half a century, I can recall when ships were unloaded with cargo nets; then came containers, an innovation fiercely resisted by waterside workers who saw their opportunities for a little cargo pilfering evaporating.

My first job was in a bank, at a time when a customer’s account information was still kept on ledger cards. One of the most loathed jobs was updating the interest earned on savings accounts. Here, the highest level of technology employed was the ball-point pen and a mechanical hand-cranked adding machine.

There was a time in the early 1950s when the jobs of parking inspector and lift driver appeared to be the prerogative of disabled war veterans. It was not unusual to see a parking inspector bracing his ticket pad on a peculiarly shiny, tightly leather-gloved, prosthetic hand, while he scribbled. Parking inspectors were invariably male.

Lift operators used to be seated on low stools tucked in the corner of the lift next to the controls. All day, as they rode up and down they would repetitiously announce the products or businesses located on each floor. Some did this work with memorable good cheer. Others did it grudgingly, often failing to hide their resentment at their lot. The lift driver’s affliction was more commonly injury to or amputation of the lower limbs.

Also in the 1950s, I remember milk still delivered by horse and cart and dippered from churns into billy-cans. As a nine-year-old, I vividly recall the huge molars of the milkman’s horse clamping onto my left bicep. You don’t quickly forget the excruciating pain of being chewed by a playful Clydesdale.

Later, when my father retired from the navy, as a second job and a small investment, he bought a milk round. The whole family was expected to turn out in the middle of the night to help. Running, crunching through the hard frost on those neat, unfenced, winter Canberra lawns, with a dozen glass bottles of milk in a steel basket hanging from each hand, was fitness training of the highest order. Oh, how we cheered the introduction of milk in cartons.

I once had an uncle who was a Sydney tram driver. His was just a short walk to work. He lived less than 100 metres from the now long gone, tram depot on Military Road in Neutral Bay. Sydney trams, cargo nets, ledger cards, lift drivers, milkmen, their horses and glass bottles, film and flash bulbs; all gone; or in the case of film, lingering but fitfully.

If it is possible to predict anything, it is that change to our working lives will become ever more rapid and dramatic. Predicting the future has always been difficult, but in attempting to anticipate change, it helps if we know where we have been. This is what this book is about.

Rob Walls
Cascades, Tasmania,
September 2010

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Filed under art, Australian, Digital photography, documentary photography, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls, Stock photography

Some Broken Hill exteriors…

Arriving in the mining town of Broken Hill in mid-afternoon, I decided to stretch my legs with a walk around town. This city is like nowhere else I’ve ever been in Australia. Former prosperity shows through the modern run-down facades, but several of these building exteriors intrigued me:

A beautiful bit of art deco commercialism in Argent Street © Rob Walls 2010

Do they wonder why they went out of business? © Rob Walls 2010

One especially for my wife, Sulyn. She'll get it! © Rob Walls 2010

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Filed under Australian, documentary photography, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls, Stock photography, travel

There’s no getting away from the election…

Election poster on the Warracknabeal-Mildura road © Rob Walls 2010

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Filed under Australian, documentary photography, Opinion, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Stock photography, travel

A slightly surreal day…

189 km from Broken Hill © Rob Walls 2010

This afternoon, on a gun-barrel straight stretch of road 189km from Broken Hill, I came across this wrecked Toyota Landcruiser. I stopped to see if I could offer any help, but the crash site was deserted, but there was a rudimentary camp site, with a folding chair some rugs and an opened first aid kit.

What made the scene so surreal, was that there was still a CD playing loudly from inside the wreck: Tammy Wynette, Stand by Your Man! I left the music playing and walked away wondering, to the sounds of Johnny Cash. Ten minutes later I was photographing emus…

© Rob Walls 2010

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Filed under Australian, documentary photography, Music, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls, travel

A very ambitious assignment…

Tomorrow afternoon (Thursday, 15th July) I’ll be driving onto the ferry, The Spirit of Tasmania, to cross Bass Strait and begin a project I initiated at the beginning of this year. It is a self-generated assignment to photograph the changing nature of work in Australia. It is probably the the most ambitious assignment I’ve ever undertaken.

During the coming year, I intend to criss-cross the continent photographing as many aspects of work as I possibly can.  But not just work; also the way work affects peoples lives.

This first six week trip will take me approximately 3,000km around the state of Victoria and up into the mining town of Broken Hill in New South Wales. In September, I’ll be photographing work in my home state of Tasmania. In November, I’ll either be travelling the east coast or making a trans-continental dash East to West across the Nullarbor Plain to Eastern Australia before the summer reaches its peak.

This is an adventure I approach with a little apprehension. I’ve set the bar high. You can follow my progress on my blog; This Working Life.

The project is currently funded by Jobs Australia.

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Filed under documentary photography, News, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, portraits, Rob Walls, Stock photography, travel

Copyright! Where the bloody hell are ya?

Tourism Australia in photo copyright rights grab

In lock-step conformity with all the other intellectual property bandits around the world, Tourism Australia makes the by now, traditional rights grab in conjunction with their new “There’s Nothing Like Australia” photography competition.

(From the terms and conditions of entry)

11. By entering the Promotion, Eligible Entrants absolutely and unconditionally assign (and agree to use their best endeavours to procure any relevant third parties to absolutely and unconditionally assign) to the Promoter all right, title and interest in all intellectual property rights in their entry, including ownership of intellectual property rights in any photograph that forms part of an entry.

12. By entering the Promotion, Eligible Entrants acknowledge that their entry may be used by the Promoter, the Promoter’s related entities, agencies engaged by the Promoter, or any other third party nominated by the Promoter, for the Promoter’s current and future promotional and marketing purposes without further reference or compensation to them.  Eligible Entrants unconditionally and irrevocably:

(a) consent to any act or omission that would otherwise infringe any of their moral rights in their entry (as defined in Part IX of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)) and present and future rights of a similar nature conferred by statute anywhere in the world whether occurring before or after this consent is given (Moral Rights); and
(b) waive all Moral Rights in their entry that arise outside Australia.

Why someone doesn’t warn them about the amount of ill-will and bad PR this will generate in the photographic community, before the terms and conditions are published, astonishes me. In order for them to have unlimited use of a picture, there is absolutely no need for them to grab the copyright. Ownership and use of a picture can be sliced and diced in any number of ways without them wresting ownership from the author. Wake up Tourism Australia! Sense of fairplay? Where the bloody hell are ya?

UPDATE: If you wish to express your opinion of the Terms and Conditions of this competition you can do so by going to: http://nothinglikeaustralia.com

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Filed under Australian, Digital photography, News, Opinion, Photographers' rights, Photography, travel