Welcome to the first edition of Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up for 2020. This week the focus is on the unprecedented bushfire season in Australia. This is a topic we will come back to in the coming months as the country comes to terms with what is suggested as the new normal.
Australia is on the frontline of climate change. In the past few months we have lost entire habitats, pushed certain species to the brink of extinction, lost lives – humans, animals and other sentient beings including millions of bees a loss that impacts our very existence.
Photography has played an essential role in bringing the scope of the devastation to a stunned nation and more broadly an international audience. (Check out the Sydney Morning Herald‘s story from the viewpoint of the photographers). This week’s featured photo is by Nick Moir. I interviewed Nick a few years ago about his storm-chasing photography. I am in awe of the pictures he has taken of Australia’s worst summer of fires and the personal commitment this work requires.
Over the summer holidays I received messages from people all over the world asking if I am safe. Melbourne was impacted by smoke and at one point we had the worst air quality in the world, which is extraordinary. The smoke gave us a direct connection to what was happening to our brothers and sisters who were in the line of the fires. I had family and friends who were evacuated too. It’s been a scary summer.
Tragedy brings out the best in people, and we must now rally that energy to heal and to transform the way we live. It can no longer be business as usual. Scientists have been telling us for decades that we need to act. Now that the climate crisis is hitting where it hurts the powers that be the most – financially – there is hope that real action will be taken. We all need to do our part. This is not someone else’s problem.
So, to the first post of the year and FotoAID an initiative by the Queensland photography community to raise funds for the bushfires recovery. FotoAID also provides a platform to debate and celebrate the role of visual journalism in communicating this game-changing narrative.
Fundraiser & Conference:
FotoAID – Harnessing Photographers for the Common Good
Brisbane 18-23 February
Earlier this month I received a phone call from Darren Jew, a photographer renowned for his majestic underwater pictures of whales. Darren, along with photojournalist Damian Caniglia and Queensland Centre for Photography & Maud Street Photo Gallery director Irena Prikryl were working on a fundraiser for the bushfires. Was I interested in being involved? I didn’t hesitate. It was a resounding yes.
Within a couple of weeks this idea has become FotoAID, which features a two-day weekend Conference 22-23 February, a Print Swap Exhibition and Auction. All the proceeds go to support the bushfires recovery with funds going to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, and three organisations that care for injured animals – Wires NSW, Wildlife Victoria and Fauna Rescue SA.
“This ongoing tragedy is shared by all Australians,” says Darren. “Apart from the immediate desire to reach out and help those affected, the fact is that all our work as photographers is derived directly from nature and community, so it’s our collective responsibility to return the favour.”
The Conference features photographers who have been on the frontline covering these fires as well as photo-curators and academics like me. We’ll be tossing around the question: “in the context of digital disruption, how can authentic photo storytelling remain relevant?”
Get involved. Attend the Conference, Donate a Photograph, Bid at the Auction – visit the website to find out more.
Conference 22-23 February at the Queensland Centre for Photography, 6 Maud Street Newstead Brisbane
Print Swap Exhibition at Maud Street Gallery 18-23 February