Five photographers canvass Western Australia

By Natsumi Penberthy 8 October 2012
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
Together, five landscape photographers come up with very different visions of Western Australia’s south-west.

THE SOUTH WEST LIGHT exhibition is a bit of a boy’s project admits photographer Christian Fletcher. The project began as a brief given to the WA-based snapper called The Pilbara Project for not-for-profit creative company FORM. Early on Christian envisioned a bit of a collaboration, featuring some of the country’s best landscape shutterbugs.

It all began over a dinner one night with Lynda Dorrington, executive director of FORM, when Christian suggested he might need some help.

“It couldn’t be just any bunch of shooters, it had to be the best,” says Christian. So the calls went out to Les Walkling, Tony Hewitt, Peter Eastway and Christian’s brother Michael, for his filmmaking skills.

The evolution of the South West Light photographers

Sending five creative types into WA’s dusty ore-rich Pilbara together might have ended in tears says Christian. But after eight roughly week-long trips they’ve formed a rare bond and so their group – then called Ninety Degrees 5 (ND5) – decided to move on to tackle a slightly less dusty region; WA’s south-west from Bunbury to Albany.

This time Christian invited frequent partner in crime, Sydney’s Nick Rains, to bring a fresh perspective to the group. “We continue working together mainly because we have such brilliant fun,” says Christian. “It is the ultimate boys trip with cameras. For each of us photography is our lives, to be able to share it with your peers is a great privilege.”
See Michael Fletcher’s
video on south-west Western Australia.

Picking apart south-west WA

It isn’t very often artists get together and work as a collective says Christian. “The whole idea of ND5 is to shoot the same things, but for each person to apply their own style.”

The group have a joint exhibition and the combined sales turnover is split equally between them, which takes the edge of the competitiveness – what’s good for one is good for the others. Group critique sessions gives everyone an unusual chance to bounce their ideas off each other.

Nick says that some beautiful works have resulted from their collaborative process, which features styles as diverse as the region. “Of my own, I am particularly pleased with the sepia toned vineyard image and from the rest – if forced to choose I’d probably pick Christian’s aerial shot of the red lake that looks like a stingray,” he says.

After their most recent foray, which came together as an exhibition called South West Light the group will move on to a project that is currently operating under the working title ‘Kimberley Light’. For this year-long project they have invited photographer Mark Stothard, who will add another dimension again to the trips. “His nothing-is-too-hard attitude will see us getting to some awesome places, hopefully with awesome light,” says Christian.

For exhibition dates and information on future projects go to the Ninety Degrees 5 website.