Australia's photography scene is an ever-evolving landscape, with photojournalism, portraiture, fine art and more, and who's to say they don't cross over either? Head of Collarts's Photography course Rikki Bunder is a champion of this scene, which he describes as a "rich world-renowned photographic community that I am constantly inspired by."
"I am not sure if it is the geographical isolation or the influence of our rich cultural diversity, but it punches above its weight internationally across all genres," he adds. "To nominate just a few of my influences is almost an impossible task. Here are several, a mix of recent discoveries and perennial favourites."
Representing that which isn't quite fiction or reality, Trent Parke documents the soul of Australia more than anything. His poetic photographs capture identity, place and family life, all the while transforming his imagery into a black-and-white dreamscape. Beyond his multiple award wins (including four World Press Photo awards), Parke is also the first Australian to become a Full Member of the renowned Magnum Photo Agency.
Both hyperreal and surreal, Petrina Hicks creates large-scale photographs that seem to twist ideas of advertising, portraiture, and fine art. Funnily enough, Hicks started in the commercial photography business, eventually leaving to explore the boundless realms of contemporary art. Here, she was able to encounter duality, through collections like Bleached Gothic: "pristine and benign... familiarity and strangeness... intimacy and distance".
The ocean is at once beautiful and mysterious, and Matty Smith is uncovering exactly that through the photography medium. An underwater photographer, Smith is an expert at capturing weird and wonderful sea creatures, whose work has been acknowledged and featured by the BBC, National Geographic, London Natural History Museum, and more. Not only are his pictures astonishing to look at, but they also educate us about just how much we have yet to discover underwater.
Fascinated by the concept of identity, Melbourne photographer Polixeni Papapetrou uses unique props, costumes and backgrounds to convey just how individual our identities can be. She's photographed Elvis Presley fans, Marilyn Monroe impersonators, bodybuilders, drag queens, and even her own daughter in a series of Lewis Carroll recreations. Unfortunately, Papapetrou passed away in 2018, but her legacy still lives on in her magical photographs.
Now, this is commercial photography done right. Say no to flat images of products in a white box, and say hello to Isamu Sawa, who crafts interesting and elegant photographs of both people, cars, and still-life. Instead of taking a picture of a T2 tea bag, he captures an explosion of dried flower, fruits and tea; a perfume bottle expressed through dark, moody blackened roses. With more than 25 years of experience, it's clear Sawa knows exactly what he's doing, and how to do it effortlessly.
So much happens on the street that we never see. A construction blending into a yellow wall. Three guys in gorilla costumes eating lunch at the park. Someone painted lipstick onto a white statue. Jesse Marlow is capturing it all. His first book of photographs, Centre Bounce: Football from Australia’s Heart, kick-started more book publications, exhibitions, and global award wins (yes, this is the 2011 International Street Photographer of the Year). Marlow is also a member of both the international street photographers’ collective, UP Photographers and Institute Artists.
Focusing on conflicts and the civilians caught in them, Adam Ferguson is showing us what's happening right in the terrors of war. He first caught the eyes of the photography community when following the war in Afghanistan, where he recorded both the American soldiers hiking through hills, as well as the local Afghan elders discussing compensation for damages from U.S bombs and boys flying kites at cemeteries. Now, he has expanded: celebrity portraits, Australian outback, and more.
There's a lot more that goes into automobile photography than you might think. For Anton Watts, whose clients include Aston Martin, BMW, Cadillac, Jaguar (pretty much say a brand name and there's a high likelihood he's worked with them), light, colour and shadow elevate his images to the next level. You can see the creative hangovers of a fashion photography background, and now, Watts is known as THE car photographer.
MICHELLE GRACE HUNDER
If you're a Melbourne music scene regular, you'll know the name Michelle Grace Hunder. A nationally-renowned music photographer, Hunder has built her fame photographing gigs, album covers, and editorials, but especially her work with Australian hip hop artists, like Remi, L-Fresh the Lion, Briggs, and more. In 2016, Hunder's project Her Sound, Her Story shook up the music industry in the form of 40+ photographs of women in music, which was eventually transformed into a powerful documentary.
There's something incredibly satisfying about Rory Gardiner's work: clean lines, muted colours, a keen eye for shape and form. And yet despite their technical prowess, he still manages to capture an otherworldliness in his architecture photography. From Rose House in Melbourne to a mirrored holiday home in Mexico that reflects the surrounding greenery, Gardiner knows how to work his angles to make you feel like you're standing right in that location.
Cover image by Rikki Bunder.