The Western Australian branch of the AIPP has responded to the challenges presented by reduced ‘head office’ support with a series of locally-organised events and initiatives.
The closure of the AIPP National Office earlier this year, after widespread member dissatisfaction, resulted in a major operational restructure. Notably, creative control was diverted back to AIPP State Councils.
This renewed State Council vitality has proved highly beneficial for WA – the most geographically isolated state which often misses events that tour the east coast.
WA AIPP Council president, Des Birt, along with fellow councillor, Kelly Barker, told Inside Imaging they have been busy tailoring events to suit local sponsors and photographers, and reducing event ticket fees for members.
‘We have about 280 members in WA, but only about 50 are really actively engaged. We want some new faces to come along – they’ll easily meet like-minded people,’ Des said. ‘We also plan to improve our service to rural members by live streaming all relevant events. About 15 percent of members are based far outside Perth, and if they do make it to an event we offer them greatly reduced ticket pricing. But live streaming and online participation is something we’re working on to offer members.’
Members will eventually be able to tune into events, such as the recently sold out ‘Legends and Trendsetters’, which had eight influential WA-based professional photographers paired up to discuss what ‘was’ and ‘is’ photography.
The legends were Richard Woldendorp, Lyn Whitfield-King, Pat Baker, and Geoff Fisher; and the trendsetters were Steve Wise, James Simmons, Alex Cearns, and Lisa Ivandich. Tony Hewitt was the MC.
‘The eight people that spoke are held in such high esteem, particularly here in WA,’ Des explained. ‘I have a foot in both camps, being around when the older generation were hitting their straps. Now I’m seeing the current trendsetters come through. What’s interesting and common between them is the respect they have for the craft of photography. It’s nice to discover that, as those ideas seem to get lost in the fashions, trends and technology.’
There’s a real gap between the photographers of yesterday and the current crop of trendsetters, Des said, and unfortunately the legends aren’t heard from too often anymore.
‘So we thought “why not interview them (the legends)? And better still, why don’t we get the trendsetters to do it?”. In the end, they interviewed each other.’
Richard, an aerial landscape photography pioneer, explained how his love for photography started in 1955, when he returned to Australia from a trip to his homeland, Holland, with a Voigtlander 6×9 medium-format camera.
In the five decades that followed, Richard held over 35 solo exhibitions and featured in 36 group exhibitions. He explained that none of it was possible without the help of his wife, Lyn, who always worked alongside him – the ultimate photography couple. She spoke at the event with Richard.
‘Richard would hang out of an aircraft with a hefty rollfilm camera that shot nine frames. He’d be up there, seeing these amazing scenes, and he’d take just one photo. He knew he had the shot, and that was it – one shot.’
Compare this approach to the recent major aerial landscape exhibition, Girt By Sea, by Tony and Denis Glennon. Tony and Denis shot tens of thousands of photos over 31 days to produce 100 large-format images, which shows how dramatically technology has altered the photographic process.
AIPP Grand Master photographer, Lyn Whitfield-King, spoke about her early adoption of candid reportage-style portrait photography, which has recently become trendier than posed images; while James, the 2014 APPA winner and bearded hipster dude, shared a few secrets about his award-winning fine art wedding photos.
Pat, WA Museum’s shipwreck photographer, told tales about diving to extreme depths to document and map underwater sites for over four decades. He’s always experimented with new technology.
To capture clear underwater images in the 1970s, he built a water-corrected 98º 19mm super-wide angle lens, by adapting a Canon lens for a Nikonos body. A GoPro has since replaced his old film rig – yep, he still dives.
Pat’s work with the museum included composing ‘photomosaics’ of dive excavation sites, stitching together images to present an entire detailed account of shipwrecks. It was groundbreaking technology – historic shipwrecks had never been seen in full view ‘on land’.
These days he uses Agisoft PhotoScan software to create comprehensive 3D reconstructions of his image archive.
The final speakers of the evening – family portrait photographers, Geoff and Lisa – delved into the thrills of operating a portrait business. Lisa has developed a home studio and turned a swimming pool into an underwater set for maternity and family photos; while Geoff expressed how grateful he was to still be photographing and speaking to the audience, after recently undergoing a heart transplant.
Kelly said Legends and Trendsetters was one of the finest events she and many others recently attended.
Attendance was mostly by AIPP members, with many students and new members making an appearance, to the delight of Des and Kelly.
The event was held at Laneway Lounge, an intimate jazz club-style venue with a 50 person capacity.
Des said they could have sold more tickets with a larger venue, but the concept was to keep it exclusive and sought after.
‘We wanted to have an intimate feel with a lightly raised stage area that made the speakers feel as if they were just having a chat among themselves, which just happened to have 50 people listening in.’
WA photographers in Perth’s heart
Earlier this year the WA Council scored a coup in having State Award entries broadcast at Yagan Square, Perth’s version of Melbourne’s Federation Square, on a new 20 metre electronic billboard.
The WA Council organised the public exhibition for free with the State Government department.
Yagan Square is busy with foot traffic, with around 5000 people passing by every day. Des highlighted that, besides providing great exposure for State Award entrants, the event sponsors also received a plug.
The Yagan Square exhibition is locked in again for next year.
The WA Council is also planning new seminars for commercial photographers; and will host its annual Decathlon, 10 speakers talking for 10 minutes, where the live streaming will likely launch.