Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Outback Characters

Characters of the outback provide plenty of photographic opportunities. These are the men and women who carve out a living in an often harsh and unforgiving environment.

They are ordinary people who do extraordinary things for their community and those that visit. They are happy to go unnoticed, as ‘that’s just what you do’. To them it’s no big deal.

Since my first visit to the outback many years ago now, I have been captivated by the people who live here. I love nothing better than sitting and listening to their stories of life on their land – one most Australians would never contemplate experiencing.

On our Bluedog Photography Outback Odyssey Tour I have had the privilege to catch up with a few I have met over the years and thought you may like to meet them.

Judy is the publican at Stonehenge (no we are not in the UK) and has been serving cold ales for over 20 years to the thirsty locals and travellers who walk through her bar door. It’s a little tiny pub set by the side of the road in a town of maybe three streets.


Grant does his bit while on tour to keep the doors open for Judy.
Image by Danielle Lancaster

In Windorah I caught up with another old friend Tar Pot – now here is a character. Tar Pot is usually not very welcoming to tourists. A retired stockman and drover who lives in a little humpy he’ll happily give you a wave as you drive past and mutter, ‘off you go.’

We sat and chatted in the shade of his hut laughing of old times. He was proud to announce he had not had a drink for three years and this is something, since he’d consume a 40oz bottle of rum each day for most of his life.

Tar Pot was a favourite character of my children also when they travelled with me through this region. They would sit on the red dirt by his feet waving away the black bush flies and listen intently to his yarns. I am sure he also taught them the odd swear word or two.

Those on tour with me thought this catch up special too. They loved his dry sense of humour and were delighted when he agreed to have his picture taken. ‘Better do it now before I change my mind,’ he said in a typical bush style – often when they hear the shutter click once they presume it’s all done. Luckily everyone snapped off a couple before he put up his hand after rolling another smoke and said ‘that’s enough’.

Tar Pot
Image by Danielle Lancaster

In Birdsville today I met up with Don and Lynn. My eldest boy was keen I see Don who he would have been happy to stay and live with given the chance. Don would take him on jaunts into the desert with his dog Cooper showing him things from Don’s Aboriginal ancestors not many others have seen.

Jimmie does not look like he’s aged a day. A full blood Aboriginal born on the banks of the Georgina River he’s a real character. He agreed to meet the group for a little portrait session today (in exchange for some folding stuff) and this provided great excitement.

Jimmie tells us a Dreamtime Story from a sand hill outside Birdsville.
Image by Anita Bromley

Photographing indigenous Australians and getting exposure right in camera means knowing your basics and knowing them well. We want to see the skin the correct tone, every pore, wrinkle which contribute to telling the characters story.

Jimmie loved the girls from the group!
Image by Danielle Lancaster

If they are wearing a hat then consider using fill in flash and even using the flash off camera – side lighting shows texture.

Talk to them! Engage conversation: they are not use to having a camera in front of their faces and therefore sometimes using a cable release allows you to have eye to eye contact and helps them relax. Be prepared that once you click the shutter once they will think it’s all over and sometimes it may be, so that first shot needs to be good.

Enjoy the experience – they are precious and sometimes once in a lifetime experiences.

Check out more of our outback characters on the Bluedog website: http://www.blue-dog.com.au/Australian-characters-photography.htm

For those interested we will be venturing into the outback again this year in August when the wildflowers will be blooming. Tour commences 14th August and there are still a couple of places left. 2012 will see us only doing one tour. http://www.blue-dog.com.au/outback_australia_photography_tour.htm

Till tomorrow!

1 comment:

irslan said...

I tried the common fixes and so far nothing has worked.
folding doors