In early November I was fortunate enough to spend a week in the Australian Parliament House Press Gallery with one of the countries best photographers, Mike Bowers.
I have long admired press photographers. Their ability to shoot under pressure, get shots that tell a story and file those shots within minutes ready to be disseminated via online media! After working with ABC radio as a producer my interest in politics has grown so one of my goals was to be able to spend some time shooting in Parliament House Press Gallery.
Mike Bowers agreed to take me under his wing so off I went to Canberra. It turned out that the week I chose was a historic one for several reasons.
My first day there I got to shoot Question Time in the House of Representatives. The atmosphere was more exciting than I had expected. I’d watched many a QT on tv but being there was something altogether different. There they all were, the politicians from both sides & independents sitting below me. I started watching , picking my subjects and shooting. I’ve done a lot of shoots that are fast-paced and in awkwardly lit environments, but The House of Reps was much more difficult environment than I’d anticipated. At least four light sources and the natural light constantly changing. I shot away and reviewed & evaluated my images with Mike’s helpful suggestions on how to approach shooting in The House of Reps.
Later that day I accompanied Mike to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office where we photographed the PM’s meeting with Buzz Aldrin. The PM’s office was spacious but with camera crews, photographers and reporters, it was a bit of a squeeze. I managed to get a few shots of the PM chatting with Buzz. Who would have thought my first day would be so eventful!
My second day the atmosphere in the Parliament was building with the pending US Election. I photographed in the Senate which was another historical moment. Up until this point, photographers were only allowed to photograph the person who had the call. Now any senator could be photographed and it became obvious after a few shots they weren’t used to being photographed when not speaking!
The remainder of the week I shot numerous locations with Parliament House- The Senate, House of Reps, hallways, PM’s courtyard, foyers and outside. Mike was generous with his advice and tips on shooting and letting me use his beast of a lens the Canon 400mm , f/2.8L which helped me separate subjects in The House of Reps.
Towards the end of my week, the shock of Trump winning the election struck and numerous shoots of various politicians commenting on his victory ensued. The most intriguing was the PM’s address and congratulations of President Elect Donald Trump.
I learnt so much in the short time I spent in the Press Gallery. I improved my shooting; got to observe how other media organisations work; watched, met and spoke with other press photographers about their work and learnt more about the Australian Parliament.
Since my return to North East Victoria I’ve been able to share and discuss my images with my fellow camera club members and other photographers in my region and pass on some of the knowledge I gained during my time in Canberra.
I am most grateful to Mike Bowers who allowed me to spend the week with him and learn from him, thanks to the Guardian Australia for hosting me in their office. And many thanks to the person who helped me connect with Mike.