Capturing the heart of Margaret River

By Alex Pike 2 August 2013
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
The vineyards and valleys of WA’s Margaret River have held this photographer’s interest for 20 years.

ALTHOUGH AWARD-WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER Frances Andrijich has shot Indonesia, Croatia and South Africa, in her opinion nothing beats the rugged beauty of her Western Australian home.

A photographer for Australian Geographic among other noted publications, Frances has always held the Margaret River region close to her artistic heart. Over the years, she has watched the region grow from a series of small coastal townships into a bustling community, rich in culture and humming with musicians, artists, surfers and people from all walks of life.

Scenic hotspot of Western Australia

The population of the area has risen dramatically in the last two decades, from just under 2000 people in 1991 to over 5,300 people as of 2011. Named one of 34 global hotspots for biodiversity, the region attracts around 500,000 tourists each year and is home to 215 wineries and grape growers.

Frances has visited Margaret River at least once a year for the past 20 years, and has just published her second book on the area.

“Margaret River has its own brand in the same way that places like the Gold Coast have,” says Frances. “Because of this exclusivity element you get these amazing restaurants and some of the most respected wineries in the world.”

Photographing Margaret River

Frances adopts an “organised randomness” approach to her photography, arranging to meet people or shoot a certain location, but then “leaving chance to happen as well”. While at South Point one clear afternoon, Frances pointed her camera seaward to capture the deep blues and greens of a large swell when playing children ran into the frame, creating an interesting foreground.

“I was actually photographing that as a scene, and then these kids run in it with a dog,” says Frances. “The planning increases your chances, but the chances make it.”

One of the most unpredictable things about Margaret River is the weather, says Frances, which comes as both a blessing and a curse to photographers. “Weird climatic patterns that happen there… which is great, but frustrating at the same time,” she says. “Of course, to a photographer, the unpredictability and the serendipity is crucial.”

For Frances, professional photography started out as “a nice, fun, part-time thing” in between teaching media at high school level.

“I never made the plan of doing books and working for magazines or having some of the clients I have now, that was totally accidental,” she says. “That sort of work just took off in a way that I hadn’t planned.”

Frances’s new book, Margaret River, showcases 120 images that display the culture, lifestyle and environment of the region. Find out more here.