Child sexual abuse survivors say a photography course is teaching them to see beauty in the world and help them gain a sense of confidence — all with their smartphones.
After photographer Mitch Dunn taught the six-week course in Ballarat last year, the participants kept in touch, sharing their photos in a private social media group called the Light Seekers.
“The real foundations of photography which support healing are light and perspective, and that can be accessed through any camera,” Dunn said.
“Light is a really beautiful metaphor for healing. When we think about light in terms of photography, when we look at the brightest light source, it creates the darkest shadows.
“When you find yourself in a dark place, when you understand photography, if you turn 180 degrees, you’ll find bright light — it’s also a metaphor for hope.”
Dunn also focused on composition.
“It’s about narrowing your frame, so when things are overwhelming or you’re seeing a lot of negativity, if you can compose what you’re seeing in a certain way, there is always beautiful hope and inspiration somewhere around.”
New friendships without expectations
Abuse survivor Marita described the course as a “powerful experience”.
“It was my first step back into being a bit social. I had 15 months off work related to a court case and a breakdown,” she said.
Learning about composition, grid lines, lighting and portrait photography changed her approach to how she takes photos or uses her phone camera.
“Mitch was really good at getting us to see things from different perspectives; some of mine turned out quite abstract,” Marita said.
She found new friendships with the other survivors where there were “no expectations”.
“It was nice to be in a space that felt safe and supportive of being who you are, not having to justify your behaviour. It felt quite trauma-informed.”
The 43-year-old’s favorite photo is waves crashing over rocks at Johanna Beach on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
“It makes me feel peaceful; it sounds weird but it’s a wild and windy place, but whenever I go there I feel really calm because I can feel the sand, the spray of the ocean and the salty air.
“I feel like I’m away from everything and it’s a really calm experience.”
Passion for photography returned
When Drew was seven years old, he had his camera taken off him by the Anglican Church where he was sexually abused in South Australia.
“They told me they were ‘saving it for the best’ but I never got it back,” he said.
Now 57, the Narungga man said a lot of his photos were in black and white at graveyards.
“The black and white represented the type of camera I had taken away and because one of the places I was taken for walks by the reverend was in cemeteries.
“It’s interesting how some habits are still there subconsciously or otherwise, but they can’t hurt me anymore.”
Drew lives with Parkinson’s disease but finds his phone’s in-built stabilization helps him to deal with his hands shaking.
“The course provided so much joy for people who had been left in the dark and we’ve been friends ever since,” he said.
A mindfulness tool
Mel is a carer for her husband — both are survivors of child sexual abuse. She said the biggest thing she learned was the mindful aspect of photography.
“If I feel a little bit stressed or overwhelmed, I just take myself for a walk and take my camera,” she said.
“Taking photos of things I see at that moment can be a tool in moving forward.”
For Mel, the course was the first time she had done something for herself to address her trauma apart from a few counseling sessions.
“It’s a very personal thing. I wasn’t ready to open that can of worms for a long time,” she said.
“But now I love being able to stop myself and be present in that moment when taking photos.”
New views everywhere
Annie was sexually abused as a child, which has caused her to experience low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in trying anything new.
However, the Light Seekers book created with the participants’ photos at the end of the course has her beaming with pride.
“It was such a boost to my self-esteem, something we’d achieved out of such adversity,” Annie said.
“It was me getting some recognition for the sorrow I’d gone through in my life.”
Annie found her favorite topic was taking photos of clouds.
“The clouds were symbolic of my life — the different shapes, some days they’re beautiful and others are just smudges across the sky,” Annie said.
The 63-year-old now sees the world in a new way.
“On bad days now I’ll sit and look at the clouds. My eyes have become like my camera and I’m more cued into looking at things differently.
“Even cracks on the sidewalk, I stop and look at them and take photos of them too.”
Is adventure tourism, with a science bent, the new way to attract travellers?
From tracking echidna poo, trapping mosquitoes, or counting face masks on beaches, citizen science is helping boost scientific records and data.
But it is not just for locals. A new style of tourism encourages people to involve themselves in landscapes and wildlife while visiting locations, rather than just taking in the sights.
In South Australia, Kangaroo Island is known for its unique and abundant wildlife.
But 25,000 koalas and 50,000 farm animals perished in the fatal Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020.
Two people also lost their lives.
Roanna Horbelt has been rescuing native orphaned animals at her Wildlife Land Trust Sanctuary for the past decade. She said the fires tested her mettle of her.
“We were out in the fire grounds the whole time and you see horrible things, but we didn’t focus on that at all,” she said.
“I don’t have one picture. We focused on the positive things.
“We focused on the live animals, and we had about …150 to 200 kangaroos in the sanctuary at that stage, where it really was a sanctuary.”
Tourism that helps wildlife
Ms Horbelt and her partner, Phil Smith, saw an opportunity to give back to the animals not just through rehabilitation but through research and conservation.
They started an ocean tourism operation taking small group boat trips to the remote north-western coastline of Kangaroo Island to introduce people to the astounding diversity of animals, landscape, and geology.
The tourists, along with active citizen scientists, contribute to data monitoring and collection programs by taking photos, noting locations and animals, and making new discoveries.
Kangaroo Island Dolphin Watch coordinator Tony Bartram said, surprisingly, not much was known about dolphins.
“People think we know a lot, because dolphins are on T-shirts, in movies, on TV, all the rest, but they’re actually listed as data deficient,” he said.
“Getting baseline data about all species of dolphins is incredibly important.”
Mr Bartram said this area of Kangaroo Island was the perfect place to conduct these tours.
“It’s not like being in Queensland. In South Australia, the marine environment is largely unexplored,” he said.
Mr Bartram had high hopes for the project.
“It’s important to us because it gives us a greater data flow, but also it means that we’re getting to places we haven’t been able to get to before,” he said.
“The limits on the research we’ve done so far are the limits on us and how far we travel, not on the dolphins.”
It’s not just dolphins tourists get to see. They have also spotted whales and ospreys previously not thought to inhabit the area.
Seeing a whale’s tail, known as a fluke, is the money shot. The unique markings help to identify the whale.
The more cameras the better, according to Ms Horbelt.
“The data they collect is vital. It’s not easy to get a fluke of a whale or a fin because the animals move very quickly,” she said.
‘Bloody hard work’ pays off
Another citizen scientist, Sue Holman, has documented ocean life around the island for eight years and was amazed at the data coming back from the tours.
“There are only seven recorded [osprey] nests around the island and they didn’t believe there were any up that end of the north coast at all, no nests,” she said.
“This is new data. This is cutting-edge stuff that we really want to show… there are nests up there that no-one knows about.”
Ms Horbelt acknowledged the tours were doing groundbreaking work.
“All this data goes on to different citizen science [web-based] platforms,” she said.
“They got so excited when they saw my fluke shots because no fluke shots of humpback whales had ever been registered here in Kangaroo Island waters.”
Her partner, Mr Smith, was not surprised no-one else had started up a citizen tourist operation in the area.
“It’s too much bloody hard work,” he laughed.
“It’s not going to be an easy business to run but it’s going to be a fun business to run. We’re going to discover so much out there with that scientific background and we can’t wait.”
Ms Horbelt wasn’t shying away from that hard work either.
“The tourism part of things is financing the research, to be honest, but it’s also giving people a reason to get excited about seeing something new — and discovering new things is exciting for anyone,” she said.
To learn more about their work and other innovative stories, watch Movin’ to the Country on ABC TV, Fridays at 7:30pm or any time on ABC iview.
Here’s when and how you can access the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 beta – The AU Review
Activision has recently announced exactly how and when fans can get their hands on the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 beta. And the best news? It’s only a few weeks away.
The beta itself will be available at an earlier date for those who have pre-ordered the game, with two separate weekends providing access to the beta over a couple of days. We’ve outlined them for you below:
Saturday September 17th, 3am AEST until Tuesday September 20th, for both PS5 and PS4 owners who have pre-ordered the game.
Monday September 19th, 3am until Tuesday September 20th, for all PS5 and PS4 owners.
Friday September 23rd, 3am AEST until Monday September 26th for all PS5 and PS4 owners, and for Xbox Series X|S/Xbox One/PC owners who have pre-ordered the game.
Sunday September 25th, 3am until Monday, September 26th, for all console and PC owners.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will launch on the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and Windows PC on the 28th of October, 2022.
More to Explore on the AU:
Matthew Arcari is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. You can find him on Twitter at @sirchunkee, or at the Dagobah System, chilling with Luke and Yoda.
D-Link’s new Eagle Pro AI series of routers is looking to shake things on both sides of the market, from entry-level routers-to premium mesh systems. The R15 AX1500 Eagle Pro AI stands as the entry-level option, but provides some nifty value through its compact design, Wi-Fi 6 functionality and various smart features including Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice control commands, that this side of the market have been missing as of late. It might not jump out at users in any particular way, but still serves as a worthy upgrade for those looking for Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, or as a basic upgrade for those rather bare-bones routers provided by most internet and telco providers.
Much like its sibling, the G415 4G Smart Router, the R15 is rather compact an unassuming, sporting a flat white paint job and four side antennas. Unlike the G415, the R15 does sit flat on its back rather than standing upright, meaning it might take up a little more room in some spaces. That being said, the R15 is one of the smallest routers I’ve ever used, so I can’t imagine both the size and orientation being too much of an issue for most users.
The back of the router also sports three Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, and a single Gigabit Ethernet port for even faster transfer speeds, the latter of which is now becoming a standard for all levels and tiers of internet routers. Beyond this, there’s admittedly not much going on with the router, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Its smaller size allows it to be tucked away, while the only thing I can truly point out regarding the overall appearance and design of such a router, is that the flat white colourway may stand out, particularly if your internet setup is located in a central position in the home.
In terms of performance, the R15 plays things relatively straight. With the ability to hit speeds of up to 1,201Mbps on 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the traditional 2.4GHz, most Australian users will find the router capable of transmitting the fastest speeds our internet companies and telco providers have to offer. Unlike most entry-level routers and routers provided by the aforementioned internet and telco companies, the the R15 can cover a whopping 230 square meters, making it a no-brainer for both smaller and larger households alike, without the need to purchase any external or additional extenders.
That being said, the R15 does play friendly with the Eagle Pro AI range, meaning such extenders and even additional routers can easily be paired to the R15 via the Eagle Pro AI app. Much like the G415 4G Smart Router, the Eagle Pro AI Engine also keeps users tuned to the most reliable band at any given time, be it the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band, allowing multiple uses to consistently access the most efficient and reliable method of connectivity .
Thankfully, the Eagle Pro AI app is incredibly friendly and easy to use. As we’ve covered most of the apps functionality and features in our D-Link G415 AX1500 4G Smart Router Review, we have included the relevant excerpt below, outlining a nearly identical experience in relation to the R15:
“It’s incredibly easy to navigate, and is responsible for additional features, including the aforementioned AI Mesh Optimiser and the handy AI Parental Control. As the name suggests, AI Parental Control allows users to monitor and manage their children’s online activities. From here, you can create a profile for individual users to block and minimize access to the internet. Aside from the rampant virus exposure that may be a cause for concern for some parents, certain sites can even be curbed thanks to a web filter.”
“The Eagle Pro AI App also allows for voice control through multiple platforms including the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This might feel unnecessary for some, but is a welcome inclusion for those looking to turn their home into a smart, interconnected haven. The included AI Assistant can also whip up weekly reports for you incusing user activity and general internet traffic, with recommendations on how to solve the issues that may arise as a result. Overall, the app is incredibly easy to navigate and continuously informative at every step.”
Verdict & Value
Overall, the D-Link R15 AX1500 Smart Router is a reliable router for the entry-level price tag. Thanks to the Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, Eagle Pro AI app and compact design, it’s admittedly hard to pass this one up, should you be upgrading from a basic router provided by your internet provider, or imply looking to the future for Wi-Fi 6 support, which is arguably provided here at one of the cheapest price points in the market today. Impressive range will negate the need for extenders in most homes, while such a solution is incredibly easy to set up given the seamless functionality of the Eagle Pro AI app. If you’re looking for a solid all-rounder for an entry-level price tag, you might not need to look any further.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
highlights: lowlights: White coloring can stand out, particularly if internet setup is in a central location manufacturer: D Link Price: A$199 Available:Now
After months of being locked down and singled out as a coronavirus danger zone, Western Sydney is facing the difficult challenge of bouncing back.
Photographs from Being Together: Parramatta Yearbook (2021–2022) are on display in Parramatta’s Centenary Square
The area’s rapid development over the past few years provides the background to much of the project
Photographer Cherine Fahd hopes to take the concept to other communities
Workers required permits to leave their local area, the community had nightly 9pm curfews, defense personnel were on the streets helping enforce restrictions, and a targeted police operation roamed the areas known as the LGAs of concern.
Despite four months of tough restrictions, the community’s spirit was not broken, and people returned enthusiastically to public spaces in droves.
Photographer Cherine Fahd discovered this as she embarked on her photography project at the end of the 107-day lockdown.
“I wasn’t sure whether people would want to participate, whether they’d want to come onto the stage that we created and take photographs with me. And it was incredible,” Fahd said.
“People were really enthusiastic to be part of something creative.”
Setting up photo booths in Parramatta’s public spaces such as Centenary Square and outside Western Sydney Stadium before an Eels game, Fahd captured a cross-section of the community after shooting for more than eight months.
Photographs from Being Together: Parramatta Yearbook (2021–2022) from the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Parramatta Artists’ Studios are on display in Parramatta’s Centenary Square.
Like a high school yearbook, locals are invited to find themselves in the public artwork.
Parramatta is one of Sydney’s most diverse neighbourhoods. Fahd said the cultural richness that shone in her work de ella came naturally to the project.
“It’s just the people that came and went on the days that we were shooting,” she said.
“Parramatta is diverse, it always has been.”
MCA curator Pedro de Almeida said works like Fahd’s were able to put community front and center outside the typical gallery environment that art usually resided in.
“Fahd has brought her humor and empathy to this year’s project Being Together: Parramatta Years and engaged with Parramatta’s diverse communities,” Mr de Almeida said.
“The result is a special kind of public yearbook that recognizes many of the individuals that shape Parramatta’s identity and celebrates the connections shared between them.”
A time capsule of a changing city
Pounding jackhammers, whirring drills, and reversing trucks make up the soundscape of Parramatta’s center as the area is being transformed into a concrete jungle metropolis.
Major infrastructure projects, such as the Parramatta Square project and Sydney Metro, promise to rival the Sydney CBD and represent the rapid development of the city.
Fahd sought to capture this change in the project, which included a photo shoot on the construction site of 5 Parramatta Square, where the new council chambers will be housed.
“One of my aims as an artist was to foreground the people against that backdrop of development,” she said.
“I think we get lost in the excitement of architecture and building and the people can get lost in that.”
Lord Mayor of Parramatta City Council Donna Davis said the artwork did a great job of capturing this moment in time for the city.
“This artwork is a wonderful representation of our city and its people at a significant moment in time — not only in terms of the pandemic but also with respect to the physical transformation of the CBD,” Ms Davis said.
Beginning of lifelong project
Parramatta Yearbook is likely the beginning of a lifelong project for Fahd, who says she would like to take the concept further afield to other places where a strong sense of community binds people together, particularly through hardship.
Fahd brought up the example of Lismore, which was hit by catastrophic flooding earlier this year.
“You could take it regionally, you could take it overseas, take it into other states and capture various communities,” she said.
“Each community will bring something of themselves and something that’s unique.”
A photographer has shed some light on Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s famous skimpy barmaids in a new exhibition, which was 18 months in the making as she documented the nightlife in pubs in the historic gold mining city.
Known as Mellen, a pseudonym of her real name, the photographer originally from Sydney shares her anonymity in common with skimpies who typically work under an alias.
The scantily clad barmaids arrived on Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s pub scene in the 1970s and have since become part of the hard-working, hard-drinking culture of mining towns across Western Australia.
While one Kalgoorlie pub briefly flirted with the concept of male skimpies, or so-called himpies in 2018, the job has predominantly been the domain of young women working on a fly-in fly-out basis.
Most wear lingerie or bikinis and sometimes go topless, but all of the skimpies pull beers and chat to patrons to keep the amber fluid flowing.
As Mellen explains, the idea for her skimpy exhibition was born when she was hired as the house photographer for Kalgoorlie’s aptly named Gold Bar nightclub where she befriended many of the skimpy barmaids.
“It just gave me a license to photograph the girls working … with their consent of course,” she says.
“Then I started going to some of the other venues once I started to get to know the girls, follow them around and take their photos… I hadn’t seen many pictures of them around.
“It’s behind closed doors yet such a widely known thing about Kalgoorlie that I thought, why not meet some of the girls and see if they’d be interested in having their portraits taken?”
More than money
Her photography work has garnered her hundreds of followers on Instagram, where her handle @nophotosofthegirls reflects the signs that typically hang behind the bar of every pub with skimpies on duty.
More than a dozen skimpies gave their permission to be included in the photographic exhibition, underlining the trust Mellen built over more than a year.
Each image in the exhibit has a QR code linking to interviews she recorded with the skimpies that detail some of their personal experiences on the job.
“There’s a lot of different stories to how the women have gotten into this profession,” Mellen says.
“The common themes were the camaraderie between the women, and of course the money, but there’s a lot of jobs where you can make a lot of money, so it’s got to be more than that, especially these days.
“Maybe back in the 70s when women weren’t allowed to work in the mines, but these days there are so many other elements — the self-confidence was another common trait.”
Authentic portrayal of skimpies
The exhibition is a mixture of documentary photography and portraiture.
Mellen says she did not want to portray the industry as glamorous, but as authentically as possible.
“I try and get a balance of what is real, not too glam, but also a nice portrait,” she says.
“I love the one-on-one interaction of taking a formal portrait, but to be able to capture what’s going on is also a pretty amazing privilege.”
The project has also sparked Mellen’s interest in the history surrounding skimpies in a city that was home to Australia’s biggest gold rush in 1893.
“I have been looking at the history while doing the project, just to try and get a bit more depth of my understanding so I could represent it in a well-rounded way,” she says.
“I am from Sydney and we don’t have skimpies over there, so it was just something that stuck out as a bit unusual for so many venues to have skimpy barmaids here.
“I had been living here a year before I stepped foot in a pub … we have rough and tumble pubs in Sydney, but I didn’t find it [skimpies] jarring at all.”
The exhibition at Kalgoorlie’s Black Crow Studios is open until August 14.