On the road with Sophie Matterson
When I got the call from Australian Geographic to track down Sophie Matterson and...
Wrenching myself out from the subconscious and actively engaging people on their terms is a massive shift for me and i’m still coming to terms with being surrounded by large groups of people 24 hours a day.
This was a last minute opportunity to jump in with the passing 4WD’s once again into the heart land of the APY Lands 600km north of Coober Pedy. The unplanned nature of this trip led straight into road blocks within the festivals media constraints meaning that I wouldn’t be able to capture any of the festival action and would have to manufacture a quick work around. This came in the form of short to medium length bush trips taking people out onto their land and homelands for stories and quick setup shoots.
Dealing with clients from Aged Care restricts you in many ways. The site had to be easily accessible by walking and couldn’t be a very long distance. The lighting and composition had to be pre light to avoid lengthy time in the midday sun as well as keep the attention of the subject. This for me was all a massive learning curve and one to which I quickly adjusted my techniques to.
That said without consciously predetermining to achieve it I was quickly mixing a variety of challenging techniques together including selective lighting combined with the brenizer technique something that i’ve never tried to achieve before let alone in a one shot one kill scenario. I think the gravity of the situation compelled me to pull out every stop.
The people in these images might not be walking next week, may never get a chance to return to their lands all of this weighs heavily on my mind as I quickly prepare an on the fly lighting plan.
The purpose of the festival was to bring elders from all over the lands together to celebrate culture and tradition through art, basket weaving, dance (Inma), yarning, food and song. Every community was represented which gave elders and family members an opportunity to catch up over some amazing food that was prepared by the NPY Women’s Council.
My contact from Amata, Reuben Burton, was also there with his family and his daughter featured in the dancing.
The atmosphere and activities were all amazing and I was disappointed not to be able to capture this due to media restrictions and yet this ultimately forced me into participating within the festival including the children’s choir, walking between camps to meet elders from different communities, learning about the land and culture and yarning around the waru (fire).
Around the fire we met Alan a stockman from Amata who taught us language and shared many stories into the early hours of the morning as the coals simmered away. Alan also taught me a new word Wampa which translates to ‘I don’t understand’ which I can definitely find a use for as I strained to process and understand the stories, English being his third language.
I gave Alan my card to stay in contact as he offered to take us to his homeland David Well to camp and learn the munda (land), culture and wangka (language).