On the road with Sophie Matterson
When I got the call from Australian Geographic to track down Sophie Matterson and...
As part of NAIDOC UTHSAC commissioned portrait specialist, Dave Laslett to travel up from Adelaide to create a series of set portraits at the newly opened Drug & Alcohol Centre on Hutchinson St, Coober Pedy.
These portraits brought a buzz and a sense of fun and adventure to the grounds of the centre with fifty prints made on the day which were subsequently framed and distributed to the participants, filling a large gap of absent photographic documentation of the people of Coober Pedy. The purpose of these portraits is to embody the identity of the people and act as a mirror.
The joy witnessed was palpable as subjects and family members crowded around the back of the camera to see the end result.
The process also gave Dave and his team a chance to engage with the people and hear their stories and where they are at with their lives, struggles and joys.
‘ I’ve been up to Coober Pedy a few times however this was one of the most special trips with access to a wide range of people with all different types of stories and histories‘.
The second stage of this commission was street missions which consisted of Dave Laslett walking the streets with a 1.7m octabank and assistant into the streets of Coober Pedy.
These encounters show a mixed variety of the Coober Pedy society without a sense of discrimination as the camera reflects the story of the subject(s) at this particular moment in time. There is no staging or make up artists this is an honest, raw, bare bones representation. Importantly these street portraits utilise the surrounding environment and encapsulate the people in their natural environments which is a key to the process of creating a sense of vulnerability and honesty between the photographer and the subject.
‘The juxtapose of intense high fashion lighting contrasting with the presence of honesty and lack of subject posing is paramount to the effectiveness of these works. I was surprised on the first day how apparent this was‘.
Article supplied by Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this gallery does contain images and voices of people who have died.