Fave 20 of 2020

Fave 20 of 2020

It’s almost a tradition for photographers to share their top 10 images at the end of each year. This year, I thought I’d share my favourite 20 images, instead of 10 — it is 2020 after all. They’re not necessarily the top images or the best images, but they mean much to me. It’s been a year of stops and starts, or uncertainty and optimism, of desperation and inspiration, and I think these images tell the story of the roller coaster ride of it all!

A man splashes water on the ghats of the Hooghly River at sunrise in Kolkata.
A man stands in the shadows of a clay effigy shop in Kumartolli, Kolkata

I started the year with a trip to Kolkata in India, with plans to scout this amazing city with my good friend and local Kolkata photography guide, Shivam Pandey. The idea was to run a tour to Kolkata and Varanasi in 2021. But 2020 had other plans. Kolkata is a simply amazing city — it’s paradise for street photographers, with life unfolding on every street and every corner. It’s a city that entrances you with its light and life and hum of activity. It’s a place that you can never stop exploring. 

Wrestler, Ram Kumar Sharma, holding a gada (club) in the akhara in Kolkata.

I took a small 25cm Edgelight LED with me on this trip, as I had plans to photograph the pehalwan (wrestlers) at a small wrestling hall on the banks of the Hooghly River. And the light did not disappoint. This portrait of wrestling guru, Ram Kumar Sharma, is one of my favourites from the trip.

Boxer Jamie Weetch punching into a pad, releasing a cloud of talc.

This year, I purchased a set of Jinbei HD400 Pro lights, which are great for high speed sync flash photography. What this means is that you can synchronise your flash when shooting at very fast shutter speeds. This image is from a shoot with boxer Jamie Weetch, where I used the HD400 Pro to freeze motion and still light with the flash. I like the energy and power caught in this frame!

Self portrait in directional light, looking tired and morose, holding paint brushes.

This self portrait encapsulates my feelings after learning about the social and travel restrictions imposed during the lockdown in WA. It felt as if all my inspiration had withered away and there was nothing left but the tools of trade that saw no use. The two-month long lockdown was a time marked by quite a few self-portraits.

A homage to Rene Magritte's The Lovers, showing two masked figures embraced in a kiss.

During the lockdown, some photographer friends and I decided to participate in the “Between Art and Quarantine” movement, where people would homage works of art via the medium of self portraiture. The results were hilarious, but this one if my favourite — a homage to Rene Magritte’s “The Lovers”. The homaging helped keep our sense of humour intact throughout the two month lockdown.

A misty morning on the Murray River in Dwellingup with shafts of sunlight filtering through trees and falling on the river.
A dramatic black and white image of mist and light through the pine forests in Dwellingup.

The best tonic for a couple of months of lockdown was to head straight into the bush and to reconnect with nature. It was absolutely wonderful to be in amongst the trees, to breathe in the crisp, fresh air and to be able to explore and photograph the landscape again. Both these images were taken during a couple of days camping at Dwellingup — the mornings were very cold but the mist and light were amazing, creating scenes that seem to harken back to the dawn of time.

A cryptic image showing a winding stream through mudflats leading into a sky, but this could be an optical trick.

This image is a bit of an enigma. It’s a landscape which challenges you to make sense of the space and depth presented. What is it?

A portrait of Steve Marijanich aka Marra taken in his garden. Steve is wearing a flannel shirt, a jacket and jeans.

I lost my very good friend, Steve “Marra” Marijanich, to cancer this year. I had known Steve for more than seven years and even though we were cut from very different cloth, we formed a wonderful friendship and shared many great times together. He was diagnosed with cancer February 2019 and passed away in July this year. Marra was a kind and generous man, an outstanding mate and the kind of bloke you want to have by your side when the going gets tough. I miss him all the time.

This is one of the last portraits of Steve, taken in early May this year. I remember sitting with him in his car port, chatting about this and that and I had my camera with me. I loved photographing Steve;  he had such strong, solid presence about him, but I felt that he may not want to be photographed while looking so worn down by his battle against cancer. But, just as the day was almost waning, he looked up and said, “Grab your camera, mate, and come take a few shots of me.” It was a very short photo shoot in his garden, as I could tell that he was very worn down. But he patiently let me pose and photograph him.

This is the first time I have published this portrait of Steve. It took me a very long time to be able to even view the images from the shoot, much less to edit them. I think I had to wait for the grief and sadness to fade a before I felt ready to look at the images I took of him on that day.

Rest in peace, mate.

Reflected sunrise light in the waters of the Inlet at Denmark, surrounded by gnarled brances.

With regional borders opening in May and June, it didn’t take long for me to convert my overseas travel photography tours to local landscape photography tours. With professional photographer, Ty Stedman, I ran two tours — one to the Great Southern, and one to Kalbarri. This snippet of a landscape was taken somewhere along the inlet in Denmark. What drew me to this was the strong backlight that pulled up the detail of gnarled branches, twigs and rocks to create a promordial scene. I may have a thing for dramatic, prehistoric-looking landscapes… 🙂

The boulders at Little Beach in Albany, taken in the soft pastel hued light after sunset.

Another frame from the photography tour that Ty and I ran to the Great Southern, taken at Little Beach after sunset. The colours were beautifully muted and the scene begged for a simplified composition. 

A bearded man, dressed in a thick faux fur coat and a Russian style hat, holding a book and looking into the distance.

I’ve known Tim since high school, and he enjoys collecting antiques and vintage costume. When Tim visited dressed in this over the top Russian outfit, I knew that I had to take a portrait of him… I had in mind a learned Russian novelist or professor for this portrait.

A man dressed as a Nazgul or Ring Wraith, completely covered in a hooded cloak and holding a sword, stands on a rock.

A Nazgul (Ring Wraith) hunts for hobbits in the bucolic environs of The Shire… or rather, Balingup. I’m a bit of a Lord of the Rings tragic (don’t ask me how may times I’ve watched the films) and when the opportunity presented itself to have this cosplay at the Balingup Photography Weekend in June, I couldn’t say no. And the light was just on point that morning to create a sinister and forbidding atmosphere.

An eerie black and white image of a hooded figure standing in a forest.

This image has a very eerie feel about it, but the reality of when it was shot could not be more different. I had gone camping  with my nephews and we went bushwalking. As my eldest nephew walked ahead on the track he suddenly stopped and shoved his hands into his pockets. It was a fleeting moment in light and shadow that was suddenly filled with atmosphere and I knew at once how this would look in black and white. So, I grabbed a quick frame. Then he took a step and the moment evaporated. Sometimes, scenes that are ripe with story just happen in front of you. You just have to be ready to catch it.

A lone photographer stands on top of a sand dune, surrounded by sand drifting in the wind.

It was blowing a gale when we scaled the sand dunes near Cervantes on the last morning of our photography tour to Kalbarri. The shifting sand, the strong back light and the lone figure (of my co-tour leader, Ty Stedman) helped create a stark and dramatic scene! 

A group of people standing together in a vineyard.

2020 was meant to be a big year for me. It’s a milestone birthday year. While I had planned to be overseas during the big “tick over”, I celebrated here in Perth at a local brewery in the Swan Valley with a group of fantastic people (not all of them photographers).

Yes, this is a group short, but it’s really meaningful to me. And I did say earlier that this is a collection of 20 favourite images… Not necessarily the best images. 🙂

A moody black and white picture of a bearded man dressed in a hat and jacket, holding a walking stick and standing next to an old wall.

In the last couple of months, I decided that I’d shoot a lot more for myself, and as I love portrait photography, I decided to get quite creative with portraiture. This is a portrait of my friend, Max, who looks very much the part of a vintage gent from a bygone era, taken at night in Fremantle and lit with the same small Edgelight LED that I used to light the wrestlers in Kolkata.

An interior scene taken inside a stylised bar with three men sitting around a table in deep conversation.

Darling Darling is a fantastic small bar, located on Henry Street in Fremantle. Its interior is styled to look like a dockside tavern straight out of the pages of “Treasure Island” and its muted light, a combination of window, candle light and subtle downlights, make it a great location for some photography. When I saw this moment occur before me (I was at the bar), the scene from Macbeth where the three witches meet came to mind.

“When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning or in rain?”

A view showing both above and below the surface of the sea, with a yellow pontoon on the surface, and a man snorkelling just below the surface.

And here it is, the lucky last image and a recent favourite, taken at Coogee Beach about a week or so ago. I have a little Nikon AW1 underwater camera that I take with me when I go swimming at Coogee (or anywhere with crystal clear water). There’s a bright yellow pontoon at Coogee and I have always tried to grab a frame that shows both above and below the surface of the water. This time, I nailed it!

Of course, I have more favourites, so it was quite difficult whittling it down to the top 20 faves. As an added extra, here are a few more images that almost made the cut:

Perth City Skyline
A studio portrait of a young man dressed in a white shirt, and black waistcoat and trousers, holding a hat in his hand. He looks wistful.
A bearded man dressed in black period hat and jacket, with an eye patch.
Black and white image of sand dunes at Lancelin.
A man snorkelling just below the surface of the water.
Backlit spring leaf buds growing out of a tree.
Under the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata, with sunlight streaming between the gaps.
A barber shaves a man's head under the Hooghly Bridge in Kolkata.
An elderly Indian wrestler wiedling two large metal clubs called mugdals.
A smokey morning in Perth City, taken from across the Swan River.
A wedding shot for my assistant, Beau on his wedding day.
A homage to Caravaggio's Boy Bitten by a Lizard, featuring photographer Johannes Reinhart.
A light bulb back lit by the sun.

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