You will not meet a kinder, more thoughtful couple than Dan and Mel, and I feel privileged that I have been their go to girl for photography since their wedding back in 2011. Number 3 of 4, Elsie, just like her siblings, was an absolute delight, and so cute... watch out Mel, I'm sure my boys would love a little sister!!
When Rachel got in touch with a specific brief to photograph her and Simon's children, I'll admit I was a little nervous, as few of my clients have a finished look in mind. But after chatting for a while and meeting Rachel and her gorgeous kids, I quickly realised that this was hardly a challenge at all. They were all so easy to work with, and delivered on their part of the brief like models! Thanks for asking me Rachel x
As I mentioned in my last post, here are the people I was privileged to meet and photograph as part of the AIPP Reflections project. Most shared their stories with me, but I wasn't able to record them all. Below are a few I did manage to take down, though I apologise if the details are not completely accurate, journalist I am not! Again, more information can be found at http://www.aipp.com.au/reflections
WWII veteran Gunner, Jeffrey English lost his mother at the age of 7 and his father at the age of 14. He was made a ward of the state and taken to Bayswater children’s home.
He had a “hell of a time” there, so at the age of 15, made his escape by doing a runner whilst on laundry duty. To avoid the guard dogs, who were fast approaching, he dived into a blackberry bush, and by some miracle they didn’t find him.
With blood all over him from the bush and no shoes (he could run faster with out them), he approached a gentleman and asked for 2 shillings for food. The man kindly obliged, but instead of getting the food, Jeff headed straight for the bus stop and got on the next bus to Melbourne.
He marched straight into the army office and volunteered to sign up, declaring that he was 21 years old. Naturally, the officer queried this, and went to get his superior.
Jeff was backing back to the door, fearing he was about to be carted back to the home, when a major appeared and took him into his office. “I told him all about it. He asked me, “Where do you live?” I said “under the bridge where all the trams go” (Swanston st) He said “you can’t live there” and he took me to his home in the state car and gave me some clean clothes. He said “Don’t worry about it, I’ll get you into the army.” So I sailed to the Middle East on the Queen Mary in 1941.
Mr Heinrich was a Photographer in the RAAF. (which of course is of particular interest to me!) Photos were taken in the nose of the plane at 18,000 feet after the photographer took control of the plane to find the correct position. The carefully lined up images were used to map Australia after the war. Mr Heinrich was asked to continue overseas, but declined to stay in Australia.
Mr Pearce drove transport from Alice to Darwin after the Japanese took control of the Indian Ocean. He was asked to go overseas, but after 3 of his 6 brothers were killed in action, he couldn't do it to his mother.
Mr Disher recalled a story from his brother in law. On a dark night a group of men were 10 metres to his right near a shovel. Needing to use it, he went over and grabbed the shovel, only to discover the next morning that the shovel was German!
Mr Kemp was a warrant officer in the Air Force stationed in Gibraltar. They used radars to find German subs, flying at only 30 feet above sea level to detect the targets and drop the charges. "The navigators were excellent, sometimes using the stars on a clear night to confirm our location."
"As frightening as the fighting was, the ferocity of the storms in New Guinea could be equally frightening" Mr Crawford
Some of you may have seen from Facebook that I have been a part of a very special project that the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) have embarked on in conjunction with the Australian War Memorial and the RSL. Volunteer Photographers from the AIPP have searched for and photographed as many of our WWII veterans as possible and at last count it was well over 5000 Australia wide. These images will be gifted to the Australian War Memorial and the veterans who have taken part. More information about the project can be found here http://www.aipp.com.au/reflections
I will be making a gallery of the mere 30 or so that I have managed to photograph soon, but in the mean time, I wanted to share a very special and detailed story. Mr Becker wrote and shared this story with his Battalion in the early 1990's, and as you will read, with amazing detail considering the time passed. But then again such a significant event would be hard to forget...
WOUNDED IN ACTION - A REMINISCENCE OF TSIMBA RIDGE
By Dick Becker 10pl B Company
The 31/51st Battalion landed at Torokina in Bougainville on the 6th December 1944 and we were still at Torokina for Christmas. A short time after Christmas we started our advance up the North coast with D Company the lead company and B Company in reserve.
We did some patrols into the centre of the island from the coast, but didn’t have any contact with the Japs. We saw where they had been and received reports that D Coy had killed one or two but we were getting close all the time.
Our first taste of real action came when we took over a position which had been captured by D Company about 100 yards before Tsimba Ridge. There was a captured Japanese gun on it (this could have been called a Pimple but I am not sure). It was on the ridge before Tsimba. Anyway we took over about 10am and within an hour 1 Section was sent out to patrol directly towards Tsimba. The last member of the patrol had barley left our position when a single shot rang out. The patrol later returned all except Gilly Falkner. I was in the detail sent out to find Gilly and we were given covering fire from the Mortar Platoon. We were being very careful and the first two rounds from the Mortars were spot on and we got to Gilly but then the rounds started to drop short and I can tell you I never hugged the ground so hard. The last round fell pretty close to me. I could feel the blast and hear the schrapnel whipping through the tress. Anyhow we got Gill back. He had been killed instantly.
We had about five days in those positions. It rained pretty well every day and we were walking in mud all the time. We went on a patrol down to C Coy with ammunition during this time. I was lead scout and it was a rather hair-raising experience especially after the Gill Faulkner incident.
The Japs harassed every night and we just didn’t rest too well. After about five days we were taken off that ridge and taken back to the beach for a rest. We had about three or four days just doing nothing and resting. During this time we were called together one afternoon and told of the impending attack on Tsimba Ridge and that we would be taking part in the assault.
We were given a lecture on wounds and what could happen. We were particularly told about chest wounds and that the most important thing was to keep as much air as possible out of a chest wound and each section was issued with an extra large dressing to help in this regard. This field dressing in 2 Section was issued to my mate Alex Russell who in the subsequent attack was on my immediate left. Our bayonets were taken and sharpened and handed back. The day before the attack we were moved back nearer our old position and at dusk that evening we had a church service.
In the morning of the 6th February 1945 we were up and taken up through our old positions and down the track towards the Genga River for about 150 to 200 yards where we turned at right angles to the left in single file.
I was No 2 Bren gun in the attack and because of that I had 7 fully loaded Bren Gun magazines, thin edge out in my shirt. I couldn’t get them in flat. They just wouldn’t fit and would certainly have been awkward if I had to use my bayonet. Alan Dunlop was our Bren Gunner and he was on my immediate right in the attack. Alan was killed in the attack. He was a terrific fellow.
Anyway we went in single file towards Tsimba Ridge and just before the dip, before going up Tsimba proper Capt Harris the Company Commander was waiting. As we passed he wished us luck and luck I had that day. All the while this was happening there was a terrific bombardment on the ridge itself. We lined up – 1 Section, 2 Section, 3 Section in line dispersed about five or six yards apart and when the bombardment stopped we were given the order to attack.
We moved off at a pretty steady pace and in a few moments our heads were looking over the cleared area of Tsimba Ridge. As my head looked over immediately I saw a Jap dart about 40 yards ahead of me and I was heading straight for him when I was hit pretty hard and lifted me off my feet and dumped me right alongside of a slight depression in the ground which was very crumbly about there, probably caused by a mortar bomb blast. I got into this depression, and Alex Russell who had been hit in the buttock, and who had seen me go down crawled up to me in the depression in the ground. By lying down flat we must have been just below the ground.
I had a sucking chest would and a broken left arm. As Alex Russell had the large field dressing I proceeded to get my gear off which only meant undoing the buckle on my webbing belt and slipping the arms out of the webbing harness. We believe a Jap in a reasonable high position must have known we were there and had four shots at us but was a fraction short and was just tipping the dirt up on to us. However when Alex turned me on my side to tie the field dressing tapes behind my back, I was hit in the left shoulder, fortunately only a flesh wound.
After a short while there was a lull in the firing and we decided to try and get off the ridge. So Alex called out that we were hit and were crawling in. We got the OK and by this time I was like a piece of jelly but Alex sort of snugged into me and I got onto his back and he crawled back over the edge of the ridge and down to where the other wounded were.
I was taken by stretcher from there to where our doctor was working. He stitched up my chest and that evening I was taken back to Torokina. In hindsight I believe I was hit from the left side, the thing hitting the Bren gun magazines and crushing metal fragments into my chest. Two days later I was operated on and they took pieces of metal out of my chest – one was 1/16 of an inch from my heart and it was considered a miracle that I survived the operation.
This is the first time I have told of our story. I do so now because I would like to tell the battalion of the courage of my mate Alex Russell as there is nothing surer that I would have perished if he had not been on the spot firstly with the first aid dressing and then getting me off the ridge in a reasonable time. I reckon that from the time the attack started, I had been on Tsimba only two or three minutes before being hit.
Number 2 Section had several casualties that day. Charlie Park, the Section leader and Alan Dunlop the Bren-gunner were both killed and Alex Russell, Ron Jamieson and myself wounded.
For a lot of people this family needs no introduction - they were interviewed on the telly a few years back with their story of raising 10 children. I have been lucky enough to photograph them 3 times, and this last time, with their (apparently final) total of 12! I absolutely love spending time with them, they are such a warm and friendly bunch, and you can't help be curious at how life must be for such a big family. They all pitch in and help each other, and obviously Michael and Jacqueline run a tight ship. What I still find amazing is that while they have been raising their kids and running a successful electrical business, Jacqueline has been studying and just finished her study to become a doctor!
I thought it fitting that they be my first You Tube video, with a couple of snippets of video footage which was taken at their request. Enjoy...
I had the honour of photographing Sarah and Michael's wedding a few years ago. They were so much fun, and it seems nothing has changed, they've passed on their care-free, fun-loving attitude to their beautiful boys. It's such a buzz catching up with people I photograph, years later when they enter a new stage of their lives. Congratulations Sarah and Michael on your gorgeous family...
Happy Easter! I hope you are all relaxing over the break and recovering from mad March! Mad is certainly what last month was for me - Clare Primary School photos, the Abby Lee Australian Dance Tour photography and a stall at St Peters fair was enough to keep me and quite a few helpers occupied.
Amongst all of that I was looking for a photo of my parents to show a colleague for his upcoming shoot. I couldn't find one! It seems whilst I've been hard at it making sure everyone else has family photographs to cherish, I'd been neglecting my own! It was no mean feat getting everyone together at the same time (above), and there was no shortage of advice from my well meaning family members, but I'm so glad we did it and I know we will cherish it! (I made sure I got one of Mum and Dad too!)
With Mother's Day fast approaching, it's a timely reminder that capturing images of our parents and the rest of our families is important. To help you achieve this goal, I'm offering session fees at half price for April (that's $75 weekdays and $125 on weekends). I also have gift certificates to give to Mum on Mother's Day if your session is going to take a little longer to co-ordinate!
For anyone who don't follow us on Facebook, here's a few of the team at Abby-Lee's Ultimate Australian Tour shoot. And for those who have no idea what this is about, the stars of the hit TV show "Dance Moms" from the US visited Adelaide last month, and I was fortunate to be asked to photograph the nearly 1000 kids and their families with the stars. It was an amazing experience, and I must thank all my team, especially fellow photographer Leanne King who shared the load! For those who were at the show, I hope you enjoyed the experience too.
If you belong or teach at a Dance School, please contact me about Photography for your school.