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Natural disasters ranging from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes have made headlines the world over of late including my home town of Perth.  On Sunday the 6th February bush fires have raged uncontrollably through the hills of  Kelmscott and Roleystone destroying around 70 homes.  These areas have now been declared a natural disaster.

The fires were fuelled by hot and gusterly easterly winds reaching speeds of up to 75km per hour.  Residents were evacuated to a nearby town having to wait two or three days for news as to whether they still had a home to return to.  The rest of us just watched our TV screens in horror and listened to the radio in disbelief.  The blessing was not one life was lost and for that we have our wonderful and expert emergency services to thank.   Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can say that about pets and wildlife.

Community News Group Limited sent me to photograph one of the residents of Kelmscott whose home has been destroyed by the fire.

As I drove the hill towards Kelmscott it didn’t look that much different at first, as beautiful as ever.   As I approached the top of the hill it became very apparent what had happened.  Large areas of  bush had gone.  Trees and plants black  with ash, vacant blocks full of rubble and smoke filled the air. I could still smell the fire.   I looked for the house number on the gates but I couldn’t find the number I was given.  I eventually realised the numbering system wasn’t working.  While one home was completely razed to the ground, the house next to it stood without a mark on now.  Homes now  represented by large patches of black land covered in  mounds of debris, and fragments of remains of people’s lives.   I stopped at the right place, got out of the car and slowly walked around. Incredulously, I was waiting to meet the resident who once lived there. I saw her now scorched pots and pans, her broken ornaments, the damaged outdoor garden setting over looking a spectacular view of the Hills, a picture frame…

When she arrived  my heart sank as she walked towards me.  I didn’t know this lady but she hugged me as if I was the one suffering loss.

I expect that there are still so many difficult and volatile emotions to come for all the residents and their families and a long road ahead rebuilding not only bricks and mortar but lives as well.

I’m hoping the pictures will tell the rest of  the story,  everything had gone… everything…..

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Mary lives on the streets in Fremantle.

The State Library of Western Australia aims to build a comprehensive collection of Australian publications to ensure that Australians have access to their documentary heritage now and in the future.  The Library has traditionally collected items in print, but it is also committed to preserving electronic publications of lasting cultural value.  The State library contacted me today to add my website to the pandora archives stating that mt work has relevant Western Australian content! http://pandora.nla.gov.au/index.html Read More »

Working as a press photographer for the community news can be chaotic at times even on a casual basis. DEADLINES……. Everything at a newspaper is about deadlines.

The Press Photographers I have met are skillful, diplomatic people, who work under pressure to capture the best possible images to document events, tell a story, meet the picture editor’s deadlines and help sell the newspaper. The work is varied and needs to be turned over quickly. In my case I get 30 minutes at each job before I head to the next. Some days I can get 5 or 6 jobs. The variety is enormous from shooting Old Bob on his allotment with his prize winning turnip to a football match, a pet funeral service, a hospital opening, meeting the State Premier or new babies at the hospital and of course many other issues that the Community News papers bring to the attention of the public.
Lighting and space can be can be challenging and sometimes the people themselves have clear ideas of what they would like (everyone is a photographer) which you know wont work and your Editor will not be happy with. This is were the diplomacy comes in.

I love the job. Every day I get to work in the community is different, you just don’t know what is coming next. I am the only woman on staff as a photographer for Community News (News Limited) Group, Perth, Western Australia and proud to be!

Lifestyle and Documentary photographer Dawne Fahey whom I met on a Magnum course in 2010 has founded an Australian wide photography
project where 30  photographers including myself are documenting the contemporary Australian Family.  The aim of the project is to create
a body of work that depicts the personal, private, historical and sociocultural representation of  Australian family life as it is today.
We have until June 30th 2011 to complete  our pictures.  They will then be edited by David Lloyd (Griffith University), Lisa Coleman (UNSW), Moshe Rosenveig (Headon) and Julian Tenant (WA Curator.)
The exhibition will be on the road throughout 2012.  Submissions have been made to FotoFreo, WA and a gallery in each Australian State.  There
will also be a book publication and multimedia presentation.

I’m very excited and honoured to be involved in such a wonderful project surrounded by some very talented photographers throughout Australia.
For more information about the project please go to http://australianfamily.wordpress.com/

Sarah in Fremantle

Hello everyone. Finally I am getting to grips with this blog thing. I have been trying for so long but you know how it is, well in my case anyway I sit down at the computer with the intention of blogging and off I go to face book, flicker, other blogs and sites and before I know it I have got no further on with MY OWN BLOG!
Anyway, here I am with my first ever blog and I am very pleased to announce by blog that I have been selected to be the official Urban Couture photographer for the 2011 Joondalup Festival, right here in Perth, Western Australia. Not only do I get to shoot something I love but I get paid for it as well. I couldn’t ask for a better start to 2011. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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