Late last year I was commissioned to take part in an Instagram & social media campaign with Qantas to celebrate their 95th birthday. The theme of the campaign was “Feels like home“, we travelled around Australia finding out what home meant to Australians from all walks of life. It was a pretty amazing project to be part of, the flight schedule was definitely one of the more hectic ones that I’ve been on, with events every second day and flights every other day! The route I took was: Perth > Melbourne > Uluru (Ayers Rock) > Cairns > Darwin > Melbourne > Sydney > Perth all in 9 days!
We kicked things off with a “Instameet” (photo walk / social gathering of people who have a common interest in photography of some sort and use Instagram) in Fremantle, Western Australia. It was my first time meeting my co-hosts Emilie Ristevski and Jarrad Seng. I’d previously worked on the same campaign as Emilie in Tasmania and actually helped crowd-fund Jarrad’s first ever exhibition. I find both Jarrad and Emilie inspiring in their own ways, seeing them make businesses out of social media and photography is great. The more I look at their work, the more I am convinced that finding your own style and niche in photography is important.
For me the Instameets aren’t about taking photos, although that is certainly an element of each meet, the main thing is to meet people, connect with them and hear their stories. I’m also there to teach what I can. During the whole trip I met so many inspirational people, people who are following their passions and giving it their best effort. In Fremantle I connected with Ridhwaan Moola, he calls himself a “designer, muncher and explorer”, his sense of style and aesthetic is quite inspiring and I’m looking for ways to collaborate with him in the future.
From Fremantle we were due to run a meet at Uluru but had to fly via Melbourne. I’d never been to Uluru previously, but if I had to pick 2 icons from Australia that always make me miss home when I’m travelling overseas.. it would be Uluru and the Sydney Opera House.
It was very special to finally be able to visit Uluru, a place that I’ve been wanting to visit for as long as I can remember. I would like to thank the Anangu people for sharing such a sacred place with everyone! Also a huge thank you to Qantas for organising the proper commercial photography permits required for me to photograph this amazing place. Wandering around the rock itself was pretty amazing, it isn’t until you get up close to it that you realise how enormous it really is! Jarrad Seng did his thing for sunrise at Uluru:
From Uluru we moved on to Darwin via Cairns, the flight into Cairns flew over Trinity Beach, I was watching out the window when I spotted some rocks next to the jetty at Trinity Beach. On October 20th, 2002 I was sitting on those rocks, photographing the sunrise happening over the ocean. I was shooting film back then and only as a very obsessed hobbyist but I remember sitting there thinking that it was what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. It took me quite awhile to actually make photography a full-time career, but it was nice to have that reminder as I flew over Trinity Beach.
It was my first time to visit Darwin, the weather was a bit of a shock initially, the humidity was quite the contrast from the dry of Uluru and Western Australia. We were unable to get to the waterfall and creek we initially wanted to go to as a pair of crocodiles had decided to make it their home. From there we held an instameet on the beach for sunset!
From Darwin it was back to Melbourne.. talk about contrast in weather an temperature! I grew up in a “military” home, my dad was in the Army for 10 years and my mother was actually in the reserves for years as well, as a result we tended to move around quite a bit. People ask me where I’m from, I can never really find a good answer to the question and usually reply with “Australia” and then “most of it” if they ask which part is home. I’ve lived and / or worked in every capital city in Australia aside from Hobart and Darwin (although I’ve now worked projects in both of those).
In 2005 & 2006 I lived and worked in the Melbourne CBD for the better part of 6 months for a project with a bank I was working for at the time, so heading back to Melbourne and wandering the CBD really did feel like returning home in some ways. I love the vibrancy and busyness of the CBD, it really doesn’t seem to sleep or slow down at all. Aside from Queensland, which was home for the longest time and where I did most of my schooling, I feel right at home in Melbourne. It is where I really cut my teeth when I started taking my photography seriously, the landscapes around Melbourne are just incredible for a landscape photographer, the Otway Ranges would have to be one of my favourite places on mainland Australia.
The Melbourne Instameet was pretty crazy, we had quite the turn out. It was great fun to wander the alleyways and riverside of Melbourne. I was fortunate enough to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones such as Mark & Miranda (The Common Wanderer), they had just finished up their jobs and were getting ready to travel the world. It is always inspiring meeting people who have “jumped ship” to follow their passions… while it isn’t an easy choice and rarely is it an easy path, even if you fail you can rest knowing that you gave it your best shot (pun intended). Make sure you head over to their blog and follow their travels: The Common Wanderer.
From Melbourne it was on to the shortest flight of the trip to Sydney where the project was wrapping up after a big finale Instameet and celebration down at The Rocks with live music from The Ruebens. Sydney is another place that I feel right at home in. I lived there for some time when I was a kid and have some fond memories of my first time crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, going to the top of the Centre Point Tower and even visiting the now closed Australia’s Wonderland back in 1985. I also worked and then lived in the CBD for some of 2005 and 2006.
While at the Instameet I was lucky enough to meet up with a huge amount of “Instagrammers” (I am not fond of that term) that I’ve been following and speaking with for years as well as meeting up with some that I’ve worked with before. Make sure you follow these awesome people: Andrew (@Surfistatomato), Matthew Vandeputte (@Matjoez), Rob Mulally (@Robmulally).. there were many others I met too, such a great community of Australian photographers on Instagram!
It was great to work with Qantas again, I’d previously licensed images for their in-flight magazines, this time I got to meet some of the awesome people behind the magazine, social media and in-flight entertainment. I’d like to thank both Qantas and one of their agencies Razorfish for getting me involved in the project.