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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Don't be afraid to show reality

One of the criticisms of travel and nature photography that you sometimes hear is that it's too sterilised.

It presents only the beautiful parts of the world and that doesn't necessarily gel with the reality that many tourists experience when they go there.

I tend to disagree with that opinion. Yes travel photographers try to show a destination in the best light, and photograph the most interesting aspects of a destination but that isn't a fake reality.

It's simply the reality for someone who takes the effort to get up before dawn for that perfect light. It is a real situation for someone who takes the time to get to know a destination to find interesting photographs.

But that doesn't always mean that you can't include things in your images that aren't particularly attractive. The image above was taken in a little town called Chillagoe in far northern Queensland. The town is famous for its old mine site and some beautiful underground caves featuring stunning stalactite and stalacmite formations (which one goes up and which one goes down again?)

Anyway it's certainly not famous for its power poles, or even its pink galahs for that matter. But on my final day of a trip away, as I looked up, this is what I saw. Well not at first, but after a bit of waiting it was.

When I first looked up the left hand bird was closer to the power pole but was slowly moving across to the other galah. I thought to myself, something interesting is going to happen here, and sure enough he went up to her and gave her a big kiss on the cheek!

For me I love the way the soft, natural feathers of the birds are juxtaposed against the harsh, unnatural power poles. Somehow the ugly becomes beautiful in the lines and patterns it forms around the birds.

Travel photographers aren't news photojournalists. We certainly aren't looking for the miserable in a destination but that doesn't mean that the view we show is biased or somehow not real. And if we always show the beautiful it's probably because we're optimists and like to see the world as beautiful. Beside we're not above putting a power pole in every so often just to balance our jaundiced view of the planet! :)

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