My approach to artistic work is based on a career in photojournalism, including a decade covering UN peacekeeping missions in conflict zones, in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Timor-Leste and West Africa where I documented the Ebola crisis.
As a peacekeeping photographer I had flown almost weekly on UN helicopters on missions to remote places. I had learnt there was no better way of getting an understanding of unfamiliar terrain than to see it from above.
Outside of my work as a United Nations peacekeeping photographer, I decided to focus on more personal projects. In July 2015 I decided to fly over the salt lakes of the Western Australian Goldfields to photograph a series called Gungurrunga Ngawa (Look Above), as a sequel to my earlier books and the exhibition From Above, Margaret River Region which captured aerial views of the southwest region of Western Australia.
No matter how many times I would study the internet maps of these regions to prepare for my photography flights, nothing would match the beauty of what I could see with my own eyes. By varying my flying altitude at different times of day and playing with the sun's angle I could capture striking colours and highlight unusual shapes and patterns.
My recent projects Ngala Wongga (Come Talk) - Cultural Significance of Languages in the Goldfields (exhibited across Western Australia with ART ON THE MOVE and at the Australian embassy in Paris for the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019) and Belong – Language connecting feeling, culture, country highlighting the importance of First Nations' languages currently exhibited at the WA Museum Boola Bardip in Perth until 30 January 2022.
In December 2022, I was honoured to travel to Paris with Wardandi Elders Vivian Brockman Webb, Mitchella Hutchins and artist Roly Skender to launch the UNESCO International Decade of Indigenous Languages with the presentation of the collaborative audio-visual work Wannang Biridge (Light of the Peppermint Tree), which was originally created at The Farm Margaret River, following a residency with SymbioticA on photomicrography at CELLCentral in the school of Anatomy and Human Biology at The University of Western Australia.
Exhibited at WA Museum Boola Bardip, Holmes à Court Gallery,
The Good Sheds, Bunbury Gallery, and in collection at Wesfarmers,
St John of God, WA Museum, Voyager Estate.
Current finalist 2023 at the National Photographic Portrait Prize in Canberra.
I am truly lucky to call Western Australia home. I hope you enjoy this visual journey above this very special place.
Frequently asked questions:
Do I fly my own plane? 😊
No, I do not own a plane -- nor do I fly a plane. I charter either a Cessna 172 or a helicopter whenever I do aerial photography.
Is this drone photography?
While I do occasionally use a drone, all my large aerial photographic prints were created while flying in a light plane or helicopter, above the land, using a DSLR camera. This allows me to cover more terrain and reach the higher altitudes I need to create the kind of imagery I am passionate about. When I fly in a Cessna with an open door, I use a harness. Both light planes and choppers have their differences. Flying with a helicopter has the advantage of being able to hover from above.
Do I colour my prints?
No, I don’t paint or colourise my prints. What I like to do is to find the right spot, the right light, the right altitude to avoid haze and the right time of day to have access to the best available light. Knowing the tidal movement of the moon and seasons shifts also helps. I do my research to ensure I am there at the right time of day to capture the penultimate image.
As part of my post production, I make sure to choose the right choice of archival paper to ensure the colours are an accurate rendition of the landscape I saw when I made the photograph. The end result are strong, beautiful and emotive prints representing the magical colours of the Western Australian land.
In my series called ‘Evanescence’ above Exmouth Gulf all framed in black, I used the difference between the lightest light and darkest dark or - High Dynamic range as I wanted the prints to be moody - but did not change any shape.
Why do your photographs sometimes look like paintings?
I like to photograph and single out particular details of the land. For example, when flying above a massive Salt Lake, I may concentrate on a small part of it, a detail that would have caught my eye. Such details can look at times as if they were created with a brush. I may circle a few times to make sure I get the image I want, focusing on something that has texture and colour, blurring the scale of the land, creating images that appear abstract and painterly. I am an artist/photographer, and my final prints represent something very real – the landscape itself – captured with a camera -- ‘From Above’!
How long have you been a photographer for?
25 years – I started in Sydney in 1998, as a freelance photographer before I joined the UN in 2004 to be a full-time peacekeeping mission photographer in Burundi, DR Congo, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste. I came back to Australia in 2013 after being posted in South Sudan and chose Margaret River as my new base. I also covered twice the Ebola Emergency Health missions in West Africa and in Eastern Congo.
Can I buy just a print and have it sent in Australia?
Yes, you can. Some are limited editions, and some are not. I send framed and unframed prints everywhere in Australia. I also send unframed prints overseas.