The characters you meet along the roads and tracks through Australia during any trip into the outback forge memories and reminiscences to be recalled over BBQ’s and dinner parties time and time again for many years afterwards. Here are some tips on how to capture great photographs of Outback Australia.
Why is this so? Because the people of Outback Australia are special. Each is an ordinary person that does extraordinary things within a very small, isolated yet large and distanced community and they ask for no thanks.
Take the time to stop and meet them on your next trip west……it could be the lady pumping your fuel, the backpacker behind the bar with a rich Irish accent or the bloke painting the council seat in the local park who also does the mail run: each has a story to tell.
Without a doubt, the rugged and vast outback has inspired many a story, and myth, and helped to define Australia’s identity as a harsh continent with those that survive being the toughest of the toughest.
It is claimed that in 2009, a mere 5 years ago, that the arid zone of Australia supported ‘180,000 people, about one per cent of the population. (and) The semi-arid zone supports 394,000 people, about two per cent of the total population.’
Most of those are in regional towns such as Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, Mount Isa in Queensland and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, where industries such as mining boom. And many are now well entrenched third, fourth and going into fifth generation outback families. They know the top spots for everything if you just take the time to listen and ask a few questions.
Some of the best places to meet the locals are:
1. Pubs (are always top of the list)
2. Events such as races, sports days, cattle sales and shows etc
3. By shopping local in the little towns
4. Doing a tour with a local operator
5. Knowing when and what is happening in the region you are visiting.
Our top photo tip: more often than not the camera is a ‘secondary’ thing when we meet a ‘local’ in the outback. Fist say g’day then try and get to know the person by asking them questions.
They see the camera – how could they miss it – that big black DSLR – it always draws attention. Give it time and when they are ready pick up the camera, ask politely with a big smile and have fun with them.
None of us like our photograph being taken so remember what it is like for you if you were the subject on the other side another ‘ordinary’ person.
For more tips on capturing images of people in the work environment please visit our Environmental Portrait Photography post.