Brisbane’s FotoAid Conference, three charity events hosted in February, was a roaring triumph with over $28,000 raised to assist bushfire-affected communities.
Hosted at the Maud Street Gallery, FotoAid consisted of a Print Swap and Exhibition, a print auction, and two-day conference. The event was pulled together in just a few weeks, but with a strong response from the Queensland photography community and broader Australian photo industry, FotoAid has proven what can be achieved in a short amount of time.
‘We weren’t sure how it was going to play out, but it certainly went better than we were hoping for,’ Damian Caniglia, FotoAid organiser and Brisbane-based photographer, told Inside Imaging. ‘Looking at the Print Swap And Exhibition, we were hoping for 50 participants and received 72. So that was awesome, from both a fundraising perspective and bringing the community together – it was really lovely.’
The original concept was to simply throw a bunch of prints on the wall and attemp to sell them, but there was concerns that prints may not sell, or sell under value. Drawing two names out of a hat, and having them swap prints, was the solution.
‘We realised there would be images that people would really want, so we thought how do we remove that process,’ Damian said. ‘So a print swap, with two photographers exchanging images, was the solution. That removes the monetary recognition of the process, but to be part of the process you must donate. It raised a bunch of money and connected people, so it was really nice.
‘We had images from people who had never sold an image in their life, through to images from photographers like Peter Eastway. A young student photographer swapped a print with Gary Crantich, who has worked as a photographer for the Queensland Museum for 38 years. There was a real nice connection between people who maybe wouldn’t necessarily connect in a normal conference environment.’
There was a wide range of images, and given there wasn’t a singular theme the hanging of the exhibition presented a major challenge. However Queensland Centre for Photography (QCFP) director, Irena Prikryl, who manages The Maud Street Gallery, carefully wove the 72 prints into a show.
‘Irena did a fantastic job laying the images out,’ Damian said. ‘It was a beautiful mix and flow of texture, content, and styles of shooting. A real mixed bag of images, which when they were presented on the walls, they looked great together.’
The Auction raised just under $7000, and included an impressive selection of prints and photo books.
Among the 10 items up for auction was a signed print by Peter Souza, chief official White House photographer for Obama; a print by National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry; an inkjet print of Bondi 1939, scanned from a negative, by Max Dupain; a signed print by Richard Bennett OAM; a print from the late Ian Poole; and a signed copy of Peter Lik’s 25th Anniversary Big Book.
For the conference, FotoAid sponsored four students to attend – three Queensland photographers, and a young photographer from Bodalla, a small town on South Coast of NSW ravaged by the recent bushfires. The speakers included three photojournalists who documented fire-affected areas – Elise Searson, Sean Davey, and Brad Fleet. They were joined by international photography commentator, Alison Stieven-Taylor; former sports photographer and picture editor, Earle Bridger; and photography academic and photobook aficionado Doug Spowart.
‘It was only because of the support of people involved with was all made possible,’ Damian said. ‘Hopefully it acts as inspiration for people in the industry, or outside the industry, to act if they see an opportunity to bring attention to an issue. Only good things can come from it.’
FotoAid raised just over $18,000, while one of the event’s sponsors, BJD Hotel, generously donated another $10,000. All funds raised will be donated to Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund, with additional moneys distributed to WIRES NSW, Wildlife Victoria, and Fauna Rescue SA.