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Q&A – Work, Life & Everything

I recently answered a few questions for Air Canada EnRoute In Flight Magazine and I thought I would share it here. Read on for a behind the scenes look into my work life, photographic influences, my travel style and everything in-between.

In the studio and packing gear for an assignment

I live in Brisbane, Australia

I started my career in Photography by moving to Toowoomba and studying a Diploma of Photography at the Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE. All throughout my high school years I would search out photography short courses on school holidays and I always had a camera in my hand.

Things changed for me when after returning from London to Brisbane I bought a vintage caravan and started dealing in Australian old wares and old props. People became fascinated by how I lived and I started sharing my story on my blog and instagram.

My first assignment was shooting for Yen magazine for their launch issue in 2002.

My first camera was an SX-70 Polaroid camera which my parents gave to me, but it never had any film, so I was always just framing up the shots, looking back I suppose I was training my eye.

The best part of every assignment is finishing the assignment. You start at the beginning of the day with nothing but a shot list and your job is to go out there and find the shots.

I work with my adrenaline, keeping my eyes open and listening to my instincts. Hour by hour, shot by shot, by the end of the day you’ve captured the work, but it’s always a bit scary and exciting when you start off with a big shot list and no shots.

On location in the Sahara, Morocco, 2017

My top 3 photographers are Dorothea Lange for her work with the FSA documenting the Great Depression, Annie Leibovitz for her personal reportage and the closeness she develops with her subjects and Sally Mann for her large format black and white photographs of her young children. So emotive.

From a lifestyle perspective, I also love the style of work in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s that was published in Australian magazines like Marie Claire Lifestyle and Vogue Entertaining & Travel. The photographers were documenting how people lived, instead of houses that were styled with props that were brought in. They felt like honest and authentic representations of life. Some of my favourites are by Mikkel Vang, Derek Henderson and Hugh Stewart.

This was my inspiration for how I photographed the interiors for my book, Shelter.

In the studio, preparing prints to be sent out

First travel memory as a child travelling through Fiji with my parents in a small boat; I became quite ill and was mended back to health by some very kind women in a small Fijian village. The kindness of strangers always stayed with me.

When I travel I read nothing, I’m too busy watching the every day life unfold around me.

Best travel tip always pack your smile, a smile can get you into great situations and also out of not so great situations. 

My soundtrack, when I travel I love music and currently I’ve been listening to the double bassist Henri Texier’s Varech non stop. His music is stirring and rather emotional, which is perfect to awaken the senses for travel.

Last holiday (what did you do there?) Stradbroke Island, Australia, I rented an old 60’s surf shack right on the fringes of Deadman’s Beach and surfed, swam and ate local seafood for a week. Such freedom.

Signing Limited Edition Prints in the studio

Next destination (what will you do there?) I’m eager to travel to India and document the railways.

Favourite food experience (and why?) Ile de Re, a small island off the west coast of France. Fresh oysters shucked from the rock pools, an abundance of local goats cheese and flowing pastel pink rosé.

Best drink in the best bar Chilled rosé at Icebergs at Bondi Beach, Australia.

Best travel buddy my husband.

Preparing packaging to leave the studio

If I had a year offI would travel overland on motorcycle from Australia to France –  up through Darwin, Papua New Guinea and Timor, then over to India, Pakistan, Iran and up to Turkey, Greece, Italy then France. 

To relax when I travel, I swim, always need to find the nearest ocean.

What I love most about Australia is how open this country is. There are no physical borders, people only want to help you, there is a casualness to the people that I find so endearing and yearn for when I’m abroad.

Collecting framed pieces from the framers

When I’m not on assignment I’m in the field capturing landscapes for my photographic print collections or in the studio working on new additions to my range of travel and lifestyle goods.

My range includes my signature handbag, travel fragrances, accessories and timeless pieces to travel in. Everything I do is inspired by the charm of old world travel and style.

Favourite product in my shop I just love the photographic prints, they are the most intimate thing that I sell because it’s how I see the world.

My approach to style is utilitarian, the pace of my life is fast, I need easy to wear pieces that make me feel good.

My approach to interiors is guided by my love of the colours in nature that I’m attracted to. I keep my colour palette edited to creams/white, tan and black and know that whatever I add to my home or wardrobe will fit in effortlessly.

What’s happening next… more travel assignments, a new body of work inspired by the sea, designing new travel pieces to add to my range and renovating my ‘new old’ shack on Stradbroke Island.



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19 Comments to “Q&A – Work, Life & Everything”

  1. You and India would be a match made in heaven! When you do get there you must try and include Kolkata, it’s a photographers paradise. I think there would be so many fabulous shots it would have to be book no 2 :)

  2. I LOVED reading this Kara.
    You are such a fresh breath of air in a world that is increasingly materialistic.
    Your posts, photos and blog are the highlight of my social media newsfeed. I liken it to receiving a letter in the mail. I harbor it until I have time to go back and savour every word and image. And I can’t help but smile.
    I wish you continued health and happiness in all that you do. Particularly your long awaited beach house on Straddie.

    • Hi Melinda; What kind words – thank you so much. I too love receiving letters in the mail. so thoughtful – so I completely understand your comment. Thank you again and have a wonderful week ahead! x

  3. Hi Kara

    Any chance of a followup to Shelter ?

    An inspirational /beautiful book and a personal favourite to spend time with. Your photography reveals the mood, colour, space and soul of each place and custodian featured. This summer just gone when the nor easter was up, i’d take Shelter outside in the arvo, along with Sarah Glover’s Wild Adventure Cookbook and multiple copies of the surf photog mag Foam Symmetry. with a cuppa, or a bevvy, or both, for a bit of armchair escapism.

    Thanks for taking the plunge to produce Shelter Kara and fingers crossed that there is another book to come !


  4. Hi Kara, not for print – but I thought you would get a kick out of the fact that I’ve only just got back from Scotland/Ireland and have been harbouring your ‘New Studio’ post til I could sit and savour every word and photo. You of course did not disappoint. Wonderful, breathtaking & inspirational.
    So, I’ve just gone to drop you a line but read the previous comments above first. As I was reading I thought “Wow … this person has expressed exactly how I feel” and then I read the submitter’s name …. ha ha ha … you guessed it …. me .. from several months ago!
    Oh what a goose!
    Well at least it proves your talent, and my appreciation of same, does not wane.
    All the best xx
    PS I have recently become immersed in the Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix. The storyline and spirit is marvellous but I can’t help but be enamoured by the set styling too. Check it out if you have a chance. It’s called ‘Anne with an E’

  5. HI Kara, I live in an old house in Sandgate and your Dad has been a big part of making it liveable. I was painting in my kitchen today and finally after knowing him for a long time, he says to me, ‘you know, my daughter is a great photographer, you could look her up”. So while he was building my loft, I was downstairs googling and reading about you and looking at your beautiful work. Our kids make us so proud. He was so proud of your achievements. We looked over your pictures together on my computer. It inspired me to send your link to my son who is also a budding photographer, life observer and traveller. And now I hear that you have just had a little girl!!! Congratulations!! My partner Denis and I love chatting with your Dad. He has a story about everything. He is a worker and a gentleman. no need to print this just for you xx Love your work Helen of Sandgate

    • Dear Helen, How lovely to read your comment. It made me cry! I adore Dad so much and feel so lucky to have him. He has taught me so much through his gentle nature about life and business. I just love him. Yes, and now he is a grandfather. Unbelievable. I named Edie after Dads mum actually. I never knew my grandmother, though Dad absolutely loved his mum, so I thought that would be a nice thing for dad.
      What a kind sentiment to get in touch this way Helen, you sound so lovely!
      Kara xx

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