Monthly Archives: December 2011
Lauren Bamford is a Melbourne based documentary, portrait and fine art photographer who has a particular reputation for her classic portraits of inner-city indie musicians. But she’s also equally at home on the back-roads of rural Australia. Nostalgic, honest and unmistakably Australian, her road photographs are sentimental accounts of situations chanced upon.
A selection of photographs from rural Australia.
What was your last travel destination?
Last month I travelled up to Northern NSW for a week, driving from Ballina through to Maroochydor in QLD. I love being on the road and seeing the small towns of Australia. The hills surrounding Byron Bay were of particular interest to me, townships such as Myocum, Newrybar, Bangalow, Dunoon and the townships just south of Tweed Heads – these areas grow Bananas, Macadamia nuts, Avocados and more, and generally participate in the practice of roadside honesty boxes. I have been photographing this particular subject for a few years now, in an ongoing personal project.
Name a place or experience that you really loved.
Within Australia, any time I am on the open road, without a time limit and a large supply of film – that is an experience I love. I think it may hark back to my childhood, where as a family we spent a lot of time on the road travelling between Sydney and Tamworth. I also went on a lot of work trips with my Dad, who was always driving in, around and through the middle of NSW. Outside of Australia, I had a particularly excellent experience driving around America and Canada for 6 weeks. The diversity of the landscape was unexpected, and incredibly impressive. A particularly memorable stretch was from Northern California through to Seattle – EPIC mountains.
How do you decide what gear to bring (bodies, lenses, flash, tripod, bags)? Do you try to pack light? What’s your minimum must-have gear?
I mainly shoot my travel documentary on my Nikon F3, with a 35mm lens and always on Kodak colour slide. I occasionally pack the Mamiya RZ67, but that also requires a tripod, lightmeter and just more fussing about – which isn’t always appropriate for the situation. What you come across quite often when shooting in quiet country areas, is the locals giving you weird looks – the staring is even worse when I have the big Mamiya on a tripod, pointing at an old decrepit sign on the side of the road. So the F3 can just hang around my neck, it’s efficient and is less intrusive.
Have you ever planned a series before you left, or do you just wait and see what happens?
Most of the time it’s a wait and see, but not always. An exhibition I had earlier this year, ‘I hope you choke’ was shot over 18 months, on the road. It started out spontaneously, but then became something I sought out. There is only so much you can plan for though, and there were several trips around that time where I came home with barely half a roll of film shot. Snapping for the sake of it isn’t always the way.
What do you do with your photos when you get home? Would you ever use them in your portfolio? Have you ever landed any commercial work because of your travel shots?
Yes, my travel shots are included in my portfolio, as I see everything I do as an entire body of work. As of yet, I haven’t landed commercial work as a direct result of my travel documentary shots – but it is something I am open to, especially in regional Australia.However, that would all depend on the most suitable client finding me, and agreeing with my point of view which I think is very honest and Australian.
What would be your ultimate travel photography destination?
Different destinations for different seasons! Rattling off a list of names seems a little tedious, so I’ll spare you! However, I am happiest on the open road, without strict direction – anywhere!
It seems appropriate to finish up this series with our arrival at “The End of the World”!
Catchy tourism slogans aside, Shiretoko National Park in north-eastern Hokkaido is quite unique for Japan, in that it feels completely and utterly isolated. It is known for its wildlife (bears! whales!) and is so far north that on a clear day you can actually see Russia.
After an early start from Sapporo, we drove all day, passing dairy farms and fishing villages.
We shared the road with beasts great and small.
Eventually winding our way downwards into the foggy darkness, only to be revived by an inn-style meal of epic proportions.
And a slightly less overwhelming breakfast!
We went on a bear-watching cruise.
It was very very foggy.
But luckily it lifted just enough to see some of the beautiful green coastline.
And a mama-bear with her offspring (really should have bought the zoom lens!)
The next day, between showers, we wandered in the forests.
And when the showers turned into rain, we retreated to the Ainu museum to see what life was like hundreds of years ago for the indigenous people of this region. Judging from this diorama (always a reliable source of history, right?) it was quite idyllic!
Fantastic colours and patterns!
The reverse trip home was a sleepy one, with multiple stops at convenience stores for sustenance. I’d like to leave you with one such example, whose consumption I do not necessarily recommend – unless you’re a huge fan of hot-cakes and prefer your food through a straw. Thanks for the memories Hokkaido!