GROUNDED: Northern Australia photographer Fiona Lake had a humble start in the business.
GROUNDED: Northern Australia photographer Fiona Lake had a humble start in the business. Felicity Forth

Recording bush life

A BACHELOR and spinster ball isn't the usual place for someone to launch a professional career.

But it's where Fiona Lake took her first steps from amateur to professional photographer, snapping rural life at its least refined some 30 years back.

Snap happy from a young age, Ms Lake said she fell into photographing B&S Balls to pay for her film while she was attending agricultural college.

"In order to have enough money to buy film for the following B&S, I started selling photos," she said.

"There were blokes in their dinner suits with the arms ripped off, wrestling in the mud.

"Some of them are now pillars of the community.

"I'd love to do a book of those photos - but I'd get sued so I can't."

Heading north from her home in rural New South Wales to work on a cattle station, Fiona was inspired to capture life in the bush on film as she felt most of Australia had no idea about station life.

"I thought 'wow, I know nothing about this, so I bet 99% of Australia knows nothing about it as well'.

"I'd go out and I'd take the camera with me on the horse and take photos from the horse."

Once again Ms Lake sold the photos she took to station workers simply to cover her costs.

It was then, 30 years ago, that Ms Lake decided to devote herself to capturing images of station life to create a permanent record.

This passion and determination to show the rest of Australia what life is really like in the bush through her photography hasn't wavered.

Although the Townville-based photographer has published two books of cattle station photography, Life as an Australian Horseman and A Million Acre Masterpiece, and is currently working on her third on station life in the Barkly, much of her sharing takes place online on social media such as Twitter.

Ms Lake encouraged conference delegates at the Australian Women in Agriculture conference in Alice Springs to embrace the use of social media to share their unique images and stories of rural life as a way to help other non-rural Australians understand more about life on the land.

Fiona Lake presented at the Australian Women in Agriculture conference in Alice Springs as part of the Tune into Your Story: The Art of Storytelling presentation.



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