PSC Grad Sarah Lynch Gets Showcased in New York City

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If you’re following our Instagram channel, you are probably already blown away by the amazing photographs of New York city, taken by a certain ‘@focus_on_humanity’. Our channel has been taken over by an amazingly prolific graduate of 2013, Sarah Lynch.

After completing her degree, she received the prestigious Heartfelt Award for using photography to make a difference – something that she’s still dedicated to. She began her own not-for-profit organisation, Focus on Humanity, which  is driven towards giving remote communities access to the art and medium of photography. It serves to make portraits for families and individuals, training people to learn the craft so that they can record their own experiences and express their views through the language of photography.

Image from 'Focus on Humanity' website

Image from ‘Focus on Humanity’ website

Recently been offered her own solo exhibition space in the cultural capital of New York in 2018, Sarah’s work is currently being showcased at the Agora Gallery (New York) in an exhibition titled, ‘Out From Down Under & Beyond: Fine Art from Australia & New Zealand’. Featuring artists from Oceania, the exhibition’s main focus is Sarah’s ongoing photography series from 2014 where she shot the volcanic landscapes of New Zealand:

‘The series aims to draw the viewers into the otherworldly landscapes; to see the world through an alternative perspective from the one they usually do, with the hope that they will be enchanted by the world and its beauty and something worth saving and fighting for. The images are not the usual environmentalist landscapes that viewers may be used to seeing but it is my hope that if people can become entranced with nature then they may take up the cause to protect it.’

Image by Sarah Lynch

Image by Sarah Lynch

This is a great opportunity for Sarah to get more international recognition for her work, as the Agora Gallery is based in the most prized fine art district of New York and is largely frequented by dealers, collectors and curators. The exhibition will be on till the 9th of June and you can view as well as purchase some of her limited edition prints from the ARTmine page.

Image taken by The Hippy and the Blonde Facebook page

Image taken by The Hippy and the Blonde Facebook page


Aside from her busy exhibition schedule, Sarah also launched an adventure-blog with another PSC graduate, Ruth Perry. You can visit their ‘Hippy and the Blonde’ Facebook page, Instagram channel and blog have a look at their wonderful travels around America!

We’re really happy to hear about our graduates leading such exciting lives and using their photography to inspire and reach out to people across the world. It’s great to know that our graduates are getting the success they deserve in the world of photography.

Award Winning Graduates of 2015

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During the spellbinding graduation ceremony held at ACMI on the 6th of May, we applauded our students who had made their mark in the field of photography, with our sponsored awards of the evening. Let’s take another look at our winners and thank our sponsors who played a big role in enhancing their future.

Ilford Imaging is a premium image processing and production company that was established in 1879 (U.K) and is one of the ‘earliest adopters of digital imaging technology for photographic and commercial wide format markets’. With technology partners in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Australia, Ilford has won the TIPA award for Best Inkjet Photopaper for two years in a row. Elena D. San Roman (advanced diploma ’15) and Sophie Pigram (bachelor of arts, photography ’15) were the winners of the prestigious award for ‘excellence in art’.

Elena D San Roman with Julie Moss

Elena D San Roman with Julie Moss

Sophie Pigram with Julie Moss

Sophie Pigram with Julie Moss

The next award went to two highly prolific photographers who have seen their work published in numerous commercial magazines. Jessica Hollingsworth (advanced diploma ’15) and Cassandra Tzortzoglou (bachelor of arts, photography ’15) received the award for the ‘excellence in commercial photography major’ award by Sunstudios – the providers of the best lighting and camera equipment in the country. Jessica Hollingsworth and Cassandra Tzortzoglou are worthy of such an amazing award, with their work printed in publications such as Jute Magazine, Fashion Weekly, Archive Collective Magazine, Culture Magazine, MOD and Fashion Journal Magazine.

Jess LaFrankie with Julie Moss

Jess LaFrankie with Julie Moss

Cassandra Tzortzoglou with her Father

Cassandra Tzortzoglou with Andrew Miller from Sunstudios.

Supplying the best products that support our photographers and provide imaging solutions, Borges ImagingBowens and Kayell Australia have been prominent names in the Australian photography industry for the past thirty three to forty years. They are three companies that have always kept their pulse on the latest technologies available for our students.  For ‘excellence in the photojournalism major’ Borges Imaging and Bowens presented the award to Adam Kemp (advanced diploma ’15) and Clare Steele (bachelor of arts, photography ’15) received her award from Kayell Australia. Adam Kemp recently had his folio ‘Skateboarding Culture’ presented as part of an Australian Photographic Gallery series (by Echo Publishing). On the other hand, after having her photobook acquired by the National Library of Australia a few weeks before graduation, Clare Steele is on her way to be a part of PhotoIreland this year for an eventful period.

Adam Kemp with his family

Adam Kemp winner of the Borges Imaging & Bowens award with the team from Borges Imaging

Clare Steele

Clare Steele with Michael Marlborough (Kayell Australia)

Peter Petty played a major role in the development of Neurosurgery in Australia, from the time of his appointments as Assistant Neurosurgeon at both The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Prince Henry’s Hospital in 1967 until January 2010. He was appointed Senior Lecturer in Anatomy at The University of Melbourne in 1962, and was an extraordinary anatomist and teacher.  As with everything he did, he brought both a practicality and intense scientific interest to his teaching.  Fortunately for us – he was also a student here at PSC. In recognition of this passion, his daughters Susie and Liz have established a special graduation award in honour and in memory of their father, after his demise. 2016 marks the last year that we present the ‘Peter Petty Memorial Award’ and the talented recipients of the award were Timothy Allen (advanced diploma ’15) and Lucie McGough (bachelor of arts, photography ’15).

Timothy Allen with Julie Moss

Timothy Allen with Julie Moss

Lucie McGough with her Mother

Lucie McGough with her Mother

This year, we were pleased to have Ian van der Wolde – the chair of the compliance committee of AIPP who also served as the national president for the AIPP- an organisation that ‘advocates for excellence in imaging and is the membership organisation of choice for professional and aspiring image makers’. Ian is in fact, a former graduate of PSC. The AIPP and our college have a long standing relationship with many of our teachers holding AIPP memberships and students who win awards at competitions hosted by them. This year, Mr. Wolde presented Vicki Moritz (advanced diploma ’15) with the award for ‘conceptual excellence and photographic innovation’. Vicki was the 2015 AIPP Australian Student Photographer of the Year in 2015.

Amongst our array of distinguished guests, Reymond Chapman (the partnership sales manager of Adobe Australia) attended our graduation ceremony to present the ‘Adobe Award for determination and creativity in final year’. PSC is thankful to have this award, with our students working entirely on Adobe systems and software to produce their award winning work in college and for the industry, worldwide. Our deserving winner this year was Jordan Madge (bachelor of arts, photography ’15). Jordan wasn’t present to receive the award due to being in Tokyo, Japan for his own exhibition opening ‘Shokai‘. He was also the winner of the Photobook Melbourne Award of 2015.

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Reymond Chapman and Daniel Boetker-Smith (Jordan Madge was in absentia)

The wonderful and incredibly influential Sally Brownbill was also present at our event. She is the founder and owner of The Brownbill Effect – the industry’s unique and most comprehensive creative directory for photographers and businesses. Sally Brownbill has been an active course advisory committee member of PSC since 2013 and has an extensive experience in the international filmmaking scene – having worked in the U.K and Europe. She gave the renowned ‘Sally Brownbill Award for great potential in commercial photography’ to Marisa Ho (advanced diploma ’15). Marisa Ho already has a successful string of commercial clients – working on weddings, architecture and for dance companies such as the Australian Ballet.

Marisa Ho and Sally Brownbill

Marisa Ho and Sally Brownbill

Julie Moss also presented a special award from Exetel – ‘Australia’s largest independent internet service provider’. Olivia Mroz (bachelor of arts, photography ’15) won the Exetel award for ‘excellence in reflection and self expression in photography’ – a quality that we hone in our students while they develop projects at PSC. Olivia Mroz has been recognised as one such student who has exemplified her penchant for making her work highly expressive and reflective of her style. She won the Silver Award for AIPP Epson State Awards, Melbourne for her photobook ‘Amelia’ in 2015 and has had her work published in DEW and Y.AMB Magazine in the same year.

Olivia Mroz

Olivia Mroz

The PSC community was glad to have Robert McLaren, from Irwin & McLaren Bookbinders at the ceremony. Robert is the descendant of Jim McLaren, who established ‘James McLaren Pty Ltd’ in 1903. The company offers the finest paper manufacturing and binding services in the country and we are pleased that they play an active part in our students’ journeys. Robert McLaren presented the prestigious award for the ‘excellence in documentary photography’ to Daniel Pockett (advanced diploma ’15) – one of our most successful students, who was selected for an internship with The Age late last year. Daniel was also assigned by Getty Images to cover fun and mayhem on the tennis courts of The Australian Open. He was also a finalist for the AIPP student photographer of the year Gold Award in 2015, where he also received a silver distinction.

Daniel Pockett and Robert McLaren

Daniel Pockett and Robert McLaren

We were also happy to have Debi Mac with us to present the Heartfelt award for using photography to make a difference. Heartfelt is a volunteer organisation of professional photographers from all over Australia and New Zealand dedicated to giving the gift of photographic memories to families that have experienced stillbirths, premature births, or have children with serious and terminal illnesses. Ebony Finck (advanced diploma ’15) won this award for her series ‘Juncture’ that was described by GUP Magazine as ‘a meditation on mortality as life comes to a close’.

Ebony Finck

Ebony Finck with Debi Mac

Finally we had two PSC sponsored awards for the evening that recognised our winning students’ potential in professional photography while reflecting on their dedication to learning and creativity at PSC. The PrintShop at PSC Award for ‘commitment to learning’ went to Marie Watt (bachelor of arts, photography ’15) and the overall PSC award for ‘creativity and enterprise’ went to Sarah Maslan (advanced diploma ’15) as well as to Emma McEvoy (bachelor of arts, photography ’15).

Marie Watt with Julie Moss

Marie Watt with Julie Moss

Sarah Maslan with Julie Moss

Sarah Maslan with Julie Moss

Emma McEvoy with Julie Moss

Emma McEvoy with Julie Moss

The graduation ceremony was a success, with our staff and students feeling proud of their accomplishment in the field of photography. Every year PSC increasingly sends out award winning photographers into the industry. We thank our sponsors and look forward to many more years of incredible growth and know that our students are prepared for the exciting and competitive world out there! Their foundation and newfound skills in photography were developed and supported by the Academic Board, members of which have taken continuous care in ensuring the best photographic education provided to students, in Australia.

The PSC Academic Board

The PSC Academic Board

PSC Careers: Spotlight on Chloe, Olivia, Piers and Lucie

As we celebrated such a grand and momentous event of the PSC graduation ceremony on Friday, 6th of May, students shared their wonderful memories with us and relived the many joyous moments of studying photography with us. We will soon publish the anecdotes written by our graduates, but first let’s take a look at some of their professional achievements since completing their course with us.

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Chloe Smith:

Last year, Chloe managed to publish her a story about herself as well as her photography in a book titled ‘My Dream Kombi‘ by Susan Redman, and had the opportunity to print her work on a double-page spread of ‘Travel Play Live‘ magazine. She is currently working as a photographer for The Weekly Times, which she describes as being quite adventurous- she covers a range of stories that revolve around rural properties, farmers, the environment and technology. Chloe is also working on fashion and lifestyle photography, with a busy schedule of travelling to complete her personal projects. [Follow Chloe @_chloesmithphotography_]

Image by Chloe Smith

Image by Chloe Smith

Piers Fitton:

Piers is in the thick of building a rich portfolio with clients from the fashion industry. He is working on an assignment with clothing label Grand Scheme, where he has put his ‘low key styling’ photography trait to good use. Piers is simultaneously doing an internship at The Photo Studio in Fitzroy, where he is immersing himself in the industry of commercial studio management and photography. He’s busy forging connections with those in the field and is ‘loving photographing people and fashion’.[Follow Piers @p_f_p)

Image by Piers Fitton

Image by Piers Fitton

Olivia Mroz:

Since finishing her course last year, Olivia (winner of the Exetel Award for Excellence in Reflection and Self Expression in Photography 2016) has shot fashion editorials for names such as You-Do-You.comdewmagazine.com and  superheromag.com and started her own business – Olivia&Thyme that covers a range of photography, such as food, commercial, portrait, lifestyle, wedding as well as a range of events. Olivia is particularly passionate about food photography, as she feels that her passion for photography resonates with the artistic approach of the chefs she works with. She is also developing her personal art series, expanding on her folio from last year, and working on a photobook with a publisher. [Follow Olivia @oliviamroz]

Image by Olivia Mroz

Image by Olivia Mroz

Lucie McGough:

Lucie McGough was one of the talented recipients of the Peter Petty Memorial Award for technical and aesthetic excellence in landscape photography, at graduation. She has been recently working with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and is busy covering weddings all over the city. While pursuing her commercial ventures, Lucie is also busy exploring the world of contemporary documentary photography and has recently published her very own handmade photobook titled ‘The Sleeper and the Beech Tree’. She describes this project as ‘part of a larger body of work about experiences and places on the edge of non-existence’. [Follow Lucie @luciemcgough]

Image by Lucie McGough

Image by Lucie McGough

 

We are delighted that our students – now graduates, are carving such impressive careers for themselves in the world of photography. All of them are still very closely connected to each other, even as they enter a new chapter of their lives away from PSC. Our staff and teachers forever provide their guidance to those who have studied with us, helping them along their way as they gain recognition. We look forward to sharing more updates about their progress! For more information about our industry partnerships, click here.

 

PSC Careers: Spotlight on Sophie & Cassandra

Our soon-to-be grads are kicking up a storm with their amazing career moves so early in the year – that too before their graduation! The teachers at PSC do a great job of allowing students to network with big names in the industry, locally and internationally, with utmost confidence in their students’ high quality work. With the numerous exhibition opportunities lined up for those in their final year at PSC, students are given a strong foundation in creating a brand for themselves; working with studios, managing their promotions and creating excellent photography.

Image by Cassandra Tzortzoglou & Sophie Pigram

Image by Cassandra Tzortzoglou & Sophie Pigram

Our spotlight is on Sophie Pigram and Cassandra Tzortoglou:

Sophie Pigram completed her Bachelor’s Degree in December 2015. During her three years at PSC she showcased her work at professional exhibitions at 12 different venues. She also had her work published by major magazines such as Ignant, DeFuzed and Photo Art magazine in the last year. Here’s an update from her:

‘This year I started working as a studio coordinator for The Photo Studio in Fitzroy. It is a portrait and fashion commercial studio in a large warehouse. I am helping to run the Instagram for Obscura Photo Festival and designing the social media for the festival. Coby BakerJordan Madge and I are travelling to the festival early this year to help with set up. I am also working with a few Melbourne designers and stylists on fashion projects, such as Shy Gun and Om label. Apart from this I’m shooting music videos for bands, Masco Sound System and The Dead Heir. My book ‘Other Fish’ sold out at the NGV Melbourne Art Book Fair.’

Sophie with her team at The Photo Studio, Fitzroy

Sophie with her team (including fellow graduate Jessica McDonald) at The Photo Studio, Fitzroy

Cassandra Tzortzoglou on the other hand has been steadfast in getting her entrepreneurial venture off the ground, that too successfully. Like Sophie, Cassandra finished her Bachelor’s degree last year and has proudly published her work in 12 journals/magazines, exhibiting her photography in venues like the Melbourne Museum, The Asia Pacific Archive and The Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, while being a student of PSC. This is what Cassandra has been up to lately:

‘I’ve been working on my business, which is called Blossom Daisy Creative. I created it while I was in second year at PSC, however it’s taken off since October last year. I’ve been shooting plenty of Weddings, Portraits and Commercial Jobs. These have been mainly through word of mouth. I’m very lucky! I have also been assisting PSC grads, such as Jo Duck and Andrew Hardy  and Ben from Chroma Photography.’

Image by Cassandra Tzortoglou

Image by Cassandra Tzortzoglou

Stay up to date with our amazing graduates, and find out more about how to get involved with our career programs at PSC, here.

Graduating and Earning Recognition

Exactly a week before graduating with her Bachelor’s degree, emerging photographer/publisher Clare Steele, was in charge of PSC’s very own photobook exhibition stall at the National Gallery of Victoria Art Book fair of 2016. Third year students Sophie Pigram, Olivia Mroz, Sarah Walker, Mac Lawrence, Nathan Larkin and Lucie McGough were involved in selling photobooks – all of which were created and published by them and their fellow classmates.

There were more than 71 stalls during the weekend of April 29 to May 1 – with photobooks made by Nathan Larkin, Olivia Mroz and Clare Steele selected by the National Library of Australia for their permanent collection.

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Image of Clare Steele at the National Gallery of Victoria, by Daniel Boetker Smith

Clare Steele was excited to be at the event, as she always looks forward to getting feedback from interested audiences who are keen to find out more about the thought processes behind the books. Clare loves being part of the photobook community, thanks to her course at PSC where she was introduced to the particular area of the industry. After publishing her first photobook for her final folio piece last year, she has gone on to publish more work on her own, submitting them to international competitions.

“I very much appreciate the amazing photographers/curators/writers (Katrin Koenning, Hoda Afshar, Pippa Milne, Daniel Boetker-Smith) who have enlightened me and opened my eyes to what photography can be, and given me the rare opportunity to have complete creative freedom to work really hard on my project. Likewise, receiving great feedback and support for that work while also being informed about the difficulties real-world photographers face.”

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Clare plans to travel to Ireland and be a part of Photo Ireland – thanks to the industry connections facilitated by teacher Katrin Koenning.

“I’m looking forward to the chance of sharing and talking about my work to those who’ve never seen it before, hearing their different views and interpretations… to travel and open my eyes even more, while always improving my craft and continue to develop photographic series from stories I’m passionate about.”

We are proud of Clare and are excited to see her graduate this Friday, May 6 !

Elma Gradascevic’s Plans for Photography

Elma Banner
Recently completing her Advanced Diploma (art major) in December 2015, Elma Gradascevic keeps herself busy with photography, after PSC. Working in the HR industry for more than 20 years, Elma decided to learn photography part time so that she had a creative outlet that she could express herself with. Essentially, she wanted a life change that would make her more fulfilled.

After conquering the challenge of building her technical skills within the first few months at PSC, Elma discovered a newfound ability to produce creative projects within short deadlines.

Image by Elma Grad

Image by Elma Gradascevic

“I never thought I had it within me to be so creative week after week and deliver results for each assignment – I surprised myself!”
– Elma Gradascevic

Making the most of the business unit our students take during their final semester, Elma constructed a solid business plan, combining her passion for photography and fashion. She is now following that through with her own venture of printed scarves – using her photography. She’s also developing a series called ‘Rodeo’ based on the community at Lang Lang and Stony Creek, Victoria. Quite varied from her usual focus, which is art and fashion photography (a style which she recently exhibited in the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre), Elma’s Rodeo series shows her varied range of subject matter.

Image by Elma Grad, from 'Rodeo'

Image by Elma Gradascevic, from ‘Rodeo’

 

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Image by Elma Gradascevic

 

This series will soon be published as a photobook; a medium which has been Elma’s latest inspiration as she currently manages the Boyd Studios (Southbank) – the same venue that hosted the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive.

APPA showcase at the Boyd Studios. image by Elma Grad)

APPA showcase at the Boyd Studios. image by Elma Gradascevic)

Elma produced her own photobook (titled ‘Sarajevo Roses’) last year as part of her digital class assignment with teacher Nic Kocher. She plans to revisit this photobook and work on it more, in the long run. The class gave her the confidence and skills to pursue her own personal book assignment after leaving PSC.

“I think photobooks are a wonderful way of sharing our images and stories. It is becoming a growing industry.”

'A DIY photobook manual and manifesto by Bruno Ceschel' - photography taken by Elma Gradascevic

‘A DIY photobook manual and manifesto by Bruno Ceschel’ – photography taken by Elma Gradascevic

PSC is driven to make students independent thinkers in the field of photography; encouraging them to expand their skills and self-publish to get their projects seen by the wider public. Under the guidance of Daniel Boetker-Smith (course director), our 2nd and 3rd year students have created their own photography books which are promoted and showcased during exhibitions – such as the upcoming NGV Art Book Fair (April 29 – May 1). Our students will be setting up their booth, where they will be selling photobooks created by students from our college.

Elma attended the NGV Book Fair last year and was awestruck. She bought her first ever photobook at the event and looks forward to this year’s showcase:

“I was overwhelmed by the variety and styles of the NGV Book Fair last year and cannot wait to go again this year, especially now, to see some of the students’ books on display.”

The Boyd Studios still hosts an eclectic collection of photobooks published by distinguished students and professional  photographers alike. Elma Gradascevic is enjoying her time managing this space every Friday (11am – 5pm) and still visits PSC, as teachers and staff members are always happy to give advice. This is one thing that Elma feels proud about, the fact that the campus is accessible to students and graduates as a creative hub, where they can still rely on their peers and mentors as they hone their talents in photography.

For more information about studying with us, visit our website. You can also follow Elma’s Instagram channel to keep up with her amazing photography: @elmagrad.

 

Emma McEvoy stuns Melbourne with ‘Sand Castles’

Last week, our very own PSC graduate (of the Advanced Diploma and Pathways program) showcased breathtaking work in the most unique space in the world. Emma McEvoy created a series around her trip to an abandoned diamond mining town in the heart of Namibia and exhibited her work in a house that was about to be demolished, in Melbourne’s quirky capital of Fitzroy. Filling up the house with sand to recreate the experience she had in Namibia, crowds of visitors were astonished by the creative presentation and the glorious work of Emma’s that was presented on the walls.

The exhibition was only open for four days and this was enough to get the attention of the most influential media names in the world. Here is a quick kaleidoscope of the wonder behind Emma McEvoy’s recent work (click to play):

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Emma was also interviewed by PSC senior fellow and award winning photographer, Michael Coyne (who was the lead photographer at publications such as the National Geographic, Newsweek and Time Magazine). Here’s a short podcast about Emma’s inspiration behind her series and why she chose to design her exhibition space in a house that was up for demolition:

 

Here’s what setting up the exhibition looked like (click to play):

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Within the first few hours of her exhibition opening, Broadsheet Melbourne (a leading online magazine that covers the latest news about Melbourne culture) wrote a story about her incredible exhibition concept:

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Not surprisingly, Emma was then interviewed by Stephanie Ferrier from ABC News! Here is the entire story:

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The PSC community support has been unconditional. I’ve never once felt like I need to conform to any particular style or genre, i’ve been free to express my creativity however I please & that encouragement has been invaluable in helping me get to where I am now. After the overwhelming response from this exhibition I might look at exhibiting it elsewhere in Australia and no doubt i’ll be off on another overseas trip soon to create a new body of work, possibly in rural China.
– Emma McEvoy

We are really proud of Emma’s awesome work and look forward to sharing more updates about her progress!

PSC Grad Nathan Larkin Presents ‘Cede’ at Testing Grounds

Nathan Larkin (PSC Graduate)
‘Cede’ Exhibition Opening
23rd March, 5-7pm 
Testing Grounds (1 – 23 City Road, Southbank VIC 3006) 

Image By Nathan Larkin

Image By Nathan Larkin

Nathan Larkin, PSC graduate of the Bachelor Programme (majoring in photojournalism) is exhibiting ‘Cede‘, after completing his studies. Nathan currently runs his own photography studio ‘PhyNyght’ – a collective for photographers and photojournalists and is extremely active in the Melbourne photography scene.

“Cede as a word lives in a duality of good and bad. My work is based on my time hiking around the Yarra River, from the mouth located at the Westgate to Warrandyte, where the fast water from the mountains meet the diversions and slack water of the tidal estuary. This work is an exploration of Colonial, Post Colonial, and Indigenous history along its banks and the psychogeography of the waterway.”

Image by Nathan Larkin

Image by Nathan Larkin

Reflecting on his time as a photography student, Nathan feels proud about having his exhibition in close proximity to the PSC campus, where so many friends and teachers influenced him in his work.

“My time at PSC was amazing and I learned to craft an idea and see where the potential lies in photographic storytelling. The staff and fellow students really helped me to understand and see my visual style, as well as the ways I could explore it more. PSC is full of very inspiring people and I am always amazed at the depth of feedback given. Katrin Koenning and Michael Coyne really pushed me to understand my visual language and how I wanted to tell my story.”

We’re are excited about having the chance to see Nathan’s most recent displayed. The exhibition definitely promises to be an experience where viewers will get to ask deeper questions about the history and memories connected to places around us, in Melbourne.

 

Visiting PSC After 30 Years

Helen Wilms
Helen Wilms recently visited PSC after graduating from the college thirty years ago, during “the age of film, chemicals and dark rooms.” Being a prolific student at the time, Helen remembers having more photographs on the walls of PSC than anyone else. “It was a big deal,” she tells us while looking at newly displayed digital prints of our current graduates.

Helen returned to the campus last week to attend the information evening about part time courses, after spending years working as a tour guide who kept her passion for photography alive. Taking an interest in street photography and being an ardent fan of Diane Arbus, Helen has clicked millions of people all around the world. She aspires to learn more about photography, describing it as “the one medium (she) has always loved.”

We hope to see Helen soon as we open our doors to graduates who wish to remain connected to the PSC family.

From PSC to Thailand and Back: Professional Street Photographer Nick McGrath

Nick McGrath

Completing his Advanced Diploma from PSC with a major in Photojournalism, Nick McGrath tells us about his life as a full-time street photographer. 

Before I decided to start a new career in photography I had been working in the surf industry for many years as a brand manager for a global company. I had been working long long hours and I began to feel a sense that this wasn’t for me anymore. I started to see where I was in the game and I didn’t like the role I was playing so I left.  It took me sometime to figure out what I was going to do but I made a choice to follow a path guided by three simple values or principles. 1. I needed to be happy in what I was going to do. 2. I needed to be passionate about what I was going to do and lastly I need inspiration not just from what I was doing, but also from the people and the environment around me.  These 3 promises that I made to myself eventually led me to a path in photography and it has been ever since that these values continue to propel me into future unknown possibilities.

Why photography? Well in the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing, but what I could tell was that this journey that photography was taking me on was the right path even if the destination was completely unknown. It fulfilled my value criteria and the many discoveries I learnt about myself and the world around me was propelling me into a positive forward direction in life. The act of photography was very important to me in the beginning because (this was kind of embarrassing to me) I was very afraid to take a photo of a stranger in the street, Whatever the reason why I was like that, I knew that photography was challenging me in areas that I needed to be challenged and so I continually pushed my own boundaries and fear through the act of photographing. Looking back today, and it has only been relatively a short space in time, but the journey that photography has led me through has been one of complete amazement, one that I could never have imagined.

By Nick McGrath, taken at Chinatown (Bangkok)

By Nick McGrath, taken at Chinatown (Bangkok)

 

Going to Thailand, like most of my decisions was very instinctual and spontaneous. Because I surfed for most of my life, Thailand had never come up on my radar as it never had any surf. It began when I found out through a friend that an Australian photographer Philip Blenkinsop was holding a workshop in Bangkok 3 days before it was about to begin, so I called Philip and asked him if there was any places left, he gave me the affirmative and so I put the money in the bank the next day, booked a flight and watched hangover 2 the night before I left. The next day I landed in Bangkok and headed straight to Chinatown.  I knew absolutely nothing about this place yet the energy was palpable. It was the perfect place for my next set of awaiting challenges. The workshop with Philip really changed my photography and also me as a person, I started to see differently and act differently, the assault of a myriad of new experiences overwhelmed me so much that the impact on me was huge, I didn’t want to leave. I eventually extended my 2 week stay to 6 weeks. I came back to Australia but was very unsettled; I needed to go back to Thailand. I eventually did three trips back and forth to Thailand before un-expectantly being offered a job as an editorial photographer for a new magazine which was launching in Bangkok. This was the beginning of my permanency here in Thailand.

'Circle Work' from Nick McGrath's Series 'Deni Ute Muster'

‘Circle Work’ from Nick McGrath’s Series ‘Deni Ute Muster’

 

By Nick McGrath, taken at a funeral in Bangkok

By Nick McGrath, taken at a funeral in Bangkok

The beginning of my working life in Thailand was very difficult, but that was of my own doing. The work with the magazine was great but I found it very difficult to find a good place to live, I was very pedantic about this. After living in a guesthouse for the first 2 months which was costing me a fortune and not very good for my health and not wanting to live in a box high above the street, I eventually found a little room overlooking a large park out the front of my window. It was super important to me that the place where I lived had plenty of light and fresh air, I was amazed at how difficult it was to find this on a small budget. I slowly settled in to my new life while at the same time being thrown into the epicentre of Bangkok’s cultural elite. The magazine gave me plenty of opportunity to experience every level of Thai culture, from working with the super famous all the way down to the ordinary person on the street.  One day I was shooting food and then portrait work, the next day shooting fashion/culture. It was a good mix but unfortunately the magazine couldn’t compete in the local market and didn’t last. I left after 5 months later.

By Nick McGrath

By Nick McGrath

At the same time as I was working on the magazine, I was also shooting a lot on the street, trying to find interesting ideas and trying new experiences everywhere. About the same time, the political situation was beginning to re-energise with new street protests. Anti-government supporters were protesting against the former Yingluck government and it was another chance to hone some of my photojournalism skills. One of my friends who had been working for an agency in Cairo had mentioned to me that a new picture editor had begun work in Singapore and was looking to procure a fresh network of photographers in SEA. I got the address of the person in charge and sent an email with an edit of work that I had been shooting throughout the early stages of the protest and an in depth analysis of the situation. Eventually the agency took me on as a stringer. I followed the protests for months, I walked the streets for what seemed like for ever, I got sent to the south of Thailand to follow the rural protests, I was in the middle of a street gunfight that lasted an hour with men shooting 45s above my head, I witnessed a man get shot by a sniper and another man having his leg obliterated by a hand grenade in what seemed like surreal chaos. It was my first experience witnessing these kinds of things and a paradox of thoughts streaming in my head couldn’t connect with the reality of the situation. It seemed pointless to try and understand it.  I continued to work sporadically with the agency until I left to go work completely independent. Not something that I would recommend for the faint hearted.

Taken by Nick McGrath in Rajasthan, India

Taken by Nick McGrath in Rajasthan, India

Working as a freelancer, you discover a resilience and determination that comes from being self-reliant, especially when you are in a foreign country. Everything you do will determine your success or failure. For me, the most important risk factors for consideration is simply time versus money. Do I have enough money to do the project, do I have time or not enough time to fulfill the project. The other most important factor is, will I get paid for the work and will the payment cover the time and money I have made in my investment. It takes many years to develop a network of editors and contacts that are willing to listen to your project. I would say that I am 95% unsuccessful in my project ideas. Yet I am successful in other areas which do reciprocate back to other photography work. These days, the diversification of a freelance photographers skill is paramount to their success. How I do this is by creating the opportunities myself, from co-founding an arts space, getting involved with the local arts community, by curating photography screening and talks, by hosting and curating exhibitions, by teaching workshops. These are the rewarding factors of this profession and the serendipitous nature to it is the thing that excites me the most.

Currently, I am still working on the monthly curations for the photography screenings and also working on a number of photography exhibitions for later in the year. Between this and several other jobs I’m juggling, I am also editing several years of black and white film which I have shot on my travels between Thailand and Burma. I’m also hoping to cover the Burma elections in November. You can never look to far ahead in the future though.