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Shoot From The Heart: Capturing Tasmania Through a Slower Lens

Mar 28, 2024
Article by Elaine Chennatt

In many photography circles, there’s a popular technique called ‘shoot from the hip’ – where photographers hold their cameras at hip height and aim the lens up. The idea is to capture candid moments without those photographed knowing they’ve been shot. It’s a ‘caught in the moment’ approach that often leads to evocative images.

The idea of taking photos without knowing the outcome seems lost in the digital era, where it’s not uncommon for many of us to question just how edited a picture might be. In response, many photographers are turning to film photography as a way to return to their creative roots. From weddings to family photoshoots, tourism and event photography, the format is definitely having a moment.

Tasmania is the perfect place to embrace the slower, more intentional format, and I caught up with local emerging film photographer Matt Lawes to learn more.

“In the modern age where digital photography is the norm, allowing photographers the amazing ability to shoot thousands of images on location and view them instantly, I think using a medium that lacks these abilities pushes me to create more intentional images,” Matt says.

“It also removes many distractions and allows me to be more deeply immersed within these pristine environments.”

Matt’s work is imbued with the rawness and richness of the landscapes we know and love but with the slightly dreamy quality that film photography offers. This quality provides a different experience when you view Matt’s images – something akin to memory – and this feeling is a significant part of his work.

“I find the colours and textures of 35mm film provide me with a great ability to capture the overall feeling I experience when exploring Tasmania’s many natural beauties,” he explains.

“This is what I aim to convey to the viewer, the essence of a scene or moment, whether it’s the serene peace and unmoving grace of Tasmania’s untouched forests, or gazing upon deep blue mountains and lush fields throughout Tasmania’s Northern Midlands. I find the soft gradient of pastels, which film provides, the best way to capture these feelings.”

Tasmania has always been viewed as a photographer’s playground, with no end of opportunities to explore and discover. One of the key differences with film photography, explains Matt, is the unpredictability of the format. Coupled with ever-changing scenery, you have to give yourself over to the process and let go of preconceived ideas.

“With the medium’s rich colours and often unpredictable nature, film photography pushes my creativity limits,” says Matt. “I’m constantly searching to discover how the film will behave in a certain light or capture a scene, and ultimately what feeling it invokes once the image is complete. Sometimes, the film will capture colours or light differently from how we perceive it. These features push me to discover the best way to use the medium’s many quirks.”

At the heart of Matt’s approach is a commitment to storytelling and finding ways to ground himself in the present moment – and his past.

“I have a deep personal connection with Tasmania’s national parks, as they’ve played a strong role in my family’s history, being a distant relative of Lionel Connell, the first park ranger employed to oversee Cradle Mountain after Weindorfer’s passing (who first declared the lands as a National Park). Lionel worked tirelessly, alongsidehis sons, Esram and Wallie, to expand the Cradle Mountain National Park,” says Matt.

“Knowing my family has played an important part in protecting Tasmania’s landscapes fills me with a passion to share our state’s natural wonders in new ways. I hope to inspire others to experience these wonders for themselves.


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