(More than) 10 Questions: Award-winning Graduate Lucy Spartalis

This week’s chapter and the final instalment for this year’s 20 year CCP birthday celebrations is certainly “old school”. Not totally old school in the CCP at Stepney sense, because Lucy Spartalis started here with the new award at the CCP in Marleston not long after we’d moved here in 2004 with Lucy commencing her studies two years later in 2006 with a single Introduction to Photography and going pretty much full time after that. 


“Old school” however because Lucy I know still shoots film for her preferred personal projects and Lucy also has a strong aeons-old friendship with two Stepney and therefore “old award” former students Mark Zed (who now lectures here), and Bianka Feo (CCP class of 2004) who actively encouraged Lucy to enrol for study at the CCP. Funnily enough, I believe that while here, Lucy also befriended another CCP (*citation needed) legendary former student and now lecturer, Jessica Eckermann with Lucy photographing Jess’ wedding in 2010 – such is the family-like atmosphere that rolls here at the CCP.

I first encountered Lucy as a student in Term 3 2006 as an Introduction to the Darkroom student where she excelled with the chemistry and output. I reconnected with Lucy’s work in her Camera 1 class the following Term where again I was impressed with the breadth of her image making, and already then Lucy was showing a very strong interest in photographing people. By then I was intrigued with the Spartalis persona because clearly this was a person who in my opinion had the potential for greater things as indicated by her work, personality and drive and I was again graced by her presence as a student of mine when we were together for some of her Diploma subjects after qualifying for the Certificate IV in 2006.

Lucy graduated from the CCP in 2008 with her Diploma in Photoimaging and since then, her career has gone great guns and it’s one of life’s professional pleasures to be following past students’ careers vicariously and also when they keep in touch with their current exploits. I barely see Lucy these days since moving to Melbourne in 2009, however it’s always a pleasure to catch up whenever Lucy is back in town and I can be fitted into her hectic schedule.

With my association with the CCP, I feel incredibly privileged to share peoples’ lives, their trials and tribulations, their successes and frustrations and my relationship with Lucy is no different – Lucy is certainly living her dream and although former students often thank me  “for making it all happen for me”, I always have to remind them that they actually do it for themselves and we at the CCP are merely along for the ride. Yes we make doors to open available for everyone, however it takes fortitude to open it…and Lucy Spartalis has opened her door very wide.

Award winning photographer, destination weddings, someone to keep on your radar and now well a travelled wonderful friend, Lucy Spartalis has the floor with her pearls of insight to take us into the new year with (more than) 10 questions.

What first interested you, or made you fall in love with, photography?

Honestly, I couldn’t say. All I know is, I was obsessed with taking photos of my friends, long before that was the norm due to everyone owning a smartphone. Through school camps, sleepovers, weekend adventures – I constantly needed to document our lives – seemingly more so than anyone else I knew at the time – all on little automatic 35mm point and shoot cameras. I knew very little about photography as a teenager – it was never offered as a subject at my schools – but I felt an inherent need to capture and save moments, and to share them with everyone around me.

Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

A couple of my closest friends (Mark Zed and Bianka Feo) had already studied at the school, and I’d visited the tiny Norwood studio a few times for their exhibitions and to help with shoots. I was immediately drawn to the laid-back, welcoming atmosphere, and all the kooky and warm characters working and teaching throughout the space.

At 24 years old, I’d been working in record stores around Adelaide few a few years and was getting restless. I’d studied in a few different areas already, but hadn’t found something that nourished and excited me enough to pursue it long term, so – mostly out of boredom, and partly through a tiny secret hope that I’d actually be awesome at this – I signed up for the Intro to Photography class. Within two or three sessions I was hooked, and it was all over. This was what I was going to do.

Are you making personal work?

Sometimes, although not nearly as often as I’d like to. I mostly shoot for myself when I travel  (and haven’t brought piles of editing with me, which is rare). When I occasionally do get the chance to actually be ‘on holiday’, everything finally slows down, and I pull out my Yashica TLR and start shooting on the street. Landscapes, still life, street portraiture – whatever I see that pulls me in through interesting texture, form or striking light (I shoot almost exclusively on B&W film – usually Ilford HP5 or Tri-X – so colour doesn’t often come in to play here).

A couple of years ago I held a solo exhibition of my film works, ‘Spain on Film’, at the CCP. I keep meaning to put together a Melbourne show, but finding the time amongst all my wedding shooting, editing and travelling gets in the way (excuses, excuses).

What inspires your work at the moment?


The works of stylistic filmmakers and directors such as Derek Cianfrance, Spike Jonze, Nicolas Winding Refn, Charlie Kaufman and Lars Von Trier – filled with breathtaking visual sequences and symbolism, where pausing on any frame reveals a composition worthy of hanging on a wall.

Television shows like ‘Chef’s Table’, where each episode tells the story of a world-class chef – a driven and passionate artist whose sacrifices and single mindedness have helped them to change the way we think of food, and our expectations of what a dining experience can be.

Nature. My partner and I have recently purchased a home (which doubles as our studio) in the leafy and tranquil Dandenong Ranges, and are currently obsessed with planning, planting and developing our garden. I’ve never been a green thumb before, but opening my eyes to the universe of unimaginable plant and flower species is proving to be more exhilarating than I ever thought it would be – and the process of planning a rich visual composition so many years ahead of when it will come to fruition is a crucial lesson in patience and dedication.

Almost everything I see inspires me in some way – whether through colours, concepts, movement or philosophy – it all plays into my own way of seeing, and therefore into my own work.

What have you done since you studied at the CCP,  and what are you doing now?

Worked like crazy. I started out shooting everything and anything – outdoor living constructions, kids on Santa’s knee, the inside of renovated cinema complexes… then slowly the music photography jobs (my biggest passion since starting photography) and weddings started to trickle in. Weddings weren’t something I ever saw myself doing (when I was studying, 99% of wedding photographers were rocking the cheesy, dutch tilt, Vaseline-lensed approach); but eventually an old school friend asked if I could shoot her day, followed by a cousin, and then a work mate. I realised my obsession with documenting people lent itself perfectly to this field, and also realised I was having fun with it.

Cut to 10 years later, I’ve been in Melbourne since 2009, and now work with my filmmaker partner (and lover-man) Alastair Innes, forming the duo She Takes Pictures He Makes Films. We regularly travel around Australia and the world, capturing unique and adventurous wedding celebrations – up to 40 of them per year.

How has photography changed since you commenced your studies?

Whoa. It’s changed in a million ways. iPhones were only announced while I was studying at the CCP and it took another few years until everyone had a smartphone with a high resolution camera in their pocket. Since then, even the most inexperienced shooter has become adept at taking a pretty decent photo (given the right conditions), and always has the equipment on them to do so.

Then Instagram introduced filters, and people worked out how to make their images look artistic, or surreal, or simply just better than reality – all with one tap of the screen. In the two years before this all exploded, I’d gotten into shooting on toy 120mm cameras like the Holga, creating dreamy square-format images (what?! So unusual! Who takes square photos anymore??). Instagram made this style of image-making accessible to everyone.

The education available to photographers has exploded in this time as well. At least 50% of the photographers I know have now either spoken at conferences, or held their own workshops – and with the enormous waves of new shooters entering the industry every year, there’ll never be a lack of demand for such things.

I could go on. Like any technology-based trade or hobby, things are growing at an exponential rate.

How has photography changed your life?

In every way possible. I never thought I’d be able to travel as extensively as I have, and it’s all thanks to photography. I met my photographer/filmmaker partner because of it, and we’ve created an incredible life together, one that allows us to do exactly what we want to do (most of the time).

I see things so differently now. I appreciate light in a completely new way, and understand more clearly how colours affect our moods and reactions to things.

I’ve met so many talented people in the industry; some have become my dearest friends.
If it wasn’t for photography I don’t know where I’d be.

How have you changed since you were a student?

My confidence has grown every year, of course. I’ve learned how to only take on projects that bring me joy, and am only now learning how to find a balance between work and play.

Which photographers – past or present – have been major influences on your work?

Annie Liebovitz, Erwin Olaf, Gregory Crewdson, Elliot Erwitt, Vivian Maier, Autumn De’Wilde, my friend Dan O’Day… this list could go on for a very long time.

Any surprises – good or bad – as you have progressed in your career?

I’ve discovered I’m quite a perfectionist, which is good and bad. It helps to create great work, sure, but I’m very hard on myself. I’m learning now to go easier, but it’s been quite a journey to get to this point.

Also – I discovered I have an incredible work ethic, so long as I work for myself. Who knew?

Do you have any advice for student photographers?

  • Assist anyone you can, even if they shoot in a totally different style to you – you will still learn something from the experience.
  • Regularly take the time to reflect on what imagery is inspiring you, regardless of where it’s from – cinema, photography, design, nature.... Collect it and carefully analyse why you love it. What elements do the images have in common? What is it about them that makes you feel something? I’ve learnt so much about my own vision through regularly doing this.
  • Work hard. So much harder than you think I mean. Make loads of personal sacrifices for the first few years of your career – it will pay off in spades.

What is the best job you've done since you've been working in the industry?

Shooting overseas is always a thrill – the light is so surprisingly different as you move around the globe, which gives me such a boost of inspiration. At the same time, some low-key celebrations in Aussie back yards have been just as incredible stories to capture and be part of. I don’t think I could narrow it down to even a top ten, honestly.

What are your passions outside of photography?

Right now, besides setting up our hills home and pottering around the garden, I’m delving into ceramics – making lots of ugly, weird, nobbly things and filling our house with them. After years of almost always working for clients, striving for perfection or beauty, I’m relishing the chance to just make weird shit for me; getting my hands dirty, clay under my fingernails, playing like I’m in kindergarten. Alastair and I are about to convert our garage into a photo/ceramics studio, so if you need me I’ll be there, making bumpy plates with eyeballs in them.

See more from Lucy at her website, lucyspartalis.com, and her at collaboration with her partner, She Takes Pictures He Makes Films.

Merry Christmas from the CCP crew!

From all of us at the CCP, we wish you a very Merry Christmas! We hope you enjoy fun and safe holidays, and have a wonderful start to the new year.

The CCP will be closed for the holidays from 5pm Thursday 21 December and we will reopen 9am Monday 8 January.

Thank you to all of our students for another wonderful year. Term 4 assessments just wrapped up on Saturday; the artwork you make truly is an inspiration to keep doing what we do.

Special mention ought to go to the students who contributed photographs to the annual student exhibition Ghoti XXI. Every single piece is excellent and most are for sale. The show will be up until Fri 9 February.

Cheers and we look forward to seeing you in 2018!

(More than) 10 Questions: CCP Lecturer Mark Goddard

Today’s chapter is a very early former student who of course now teaches here. His past relationship has seen him wear many different hats at the CCP; student, front of house, darkroom and studio gallery committee member, exhibition installer, manager and maintenance person (most of us actually still do this out of class time). It’s a pretty inclusive and exhausted way to have worked your way around life here!

Mark Goddard first walked through the door at the Stepney CCP in 2001 doing two subjects as an Introduction to Photography / Camera 1 student. He then fairly meticulously worked his way through 2002 earning his Certificate II in Creative Photography. In this time Mark was photographed for an advertising feature on the CCP as a Camera Portfolio 2 student:

1000px ccp 2002 with Mark Goddard.jpg

Mark returned in 2003 to commence his Certificate IV in Creative Photography which was superseded by the current Certificate IV in Photography about the same time we completed our move to Marleston around 2004. In this time with his studies here, Mark especially distinguished himself with darkroom work which he became infatuated with and to this day, he still works with film – certainly a person after my own heart.

Very early on in his student days I recall when Mark discovered the images of Paul Caponigro and became transfixed on this man’s work – I believe this was when he was studying Camera 2 and naturally I encouraged him to send the guy an image and a note of thanks for the experience… he deliberated, and deliberated, crafting a “note” of the highest order to this “treasure” of Black and White photography.

Eventually (I think about six months later), Mark was ready and off the print went with his note of approbation, only to receive a reply from “God” himself about three months later, with a very sincere note of gratitude along with a signed monograph of Caponigro’s images much to Mark’s absolute delight – it is still a cherished possession in his library and certainly illustrates a lesson learned.

By the time we’d moved to Marleston, our current location, Mark was well and truly working around the CCP as a studio assistant while

continuing his studies into the Diploma program amongst other free-ranging duties such as facilitating the first fit of the new-look CCP before we’d made the move, finally settling into his current lecturing position soon after graduating with his Diploma in 2006. In the 10 years Mark has been on the floor, he’s added yet another dimension to his skill sets and has become a very valuable and popular member of the teaching staff – that’s not only 10 years of teaching the great unwashed so to speak, but collectively Mark has spent fully a third of his life associated with the CCP and he’s not going away in a hurry if I have anything to do with it!

We’ve shared a lot of beers over the time and done a lot of things together. Mark has seen Aaron grow into the reprobate he is now and probably facilitated some of the behaviours, while I’ve observed Mark become the good friend and dedicated artist and educator he now is. With that I hand you over to Mark Goddard and his answers to (more than) 10 questions about Art, Life his Inspirations and Aspirations… Mark Goddard, come on down.


What first interested you, or made you fall in love with photography?

Photography got its hooks into me as a teenager when I developed my first roll of film in high school. Learning how to use the camera happened over a number of years, but it was the desire to properly document the places I travelled that made me better understand the possibilities of photography.

Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

I wanted to see how much I could learn about photography beyond self-tuition. The CCP offers flexible learning options, which agreed with my circumstances at the time. I knew the courses on offer would engage me and I could grow as a photographer.

Mark's "A Short Walk in China" series, a few images of which are above, was one of the earlier bodies of work he was pretty happy with. Note (reading the tea leaves a bit) an early example of street photography which is a current passion, and an image perhaps referencing a favourite Michael Kenna photograph of Venetian gondolas.

Are you making personal work?

I have spent the last five years almost exclusively doing street photography. Natural and urban landscapes was how I started out, so I decided to go to the other extreme and make images about the people I see on the street and the interactions and dynamics that can be captured.
I’ve recently returned to photographing natural and urban landscapes, largely because of the other hat I wear as a landscape designer.

What inspires your work at the moment?

I’m always assessing spaces, whether that’s a residential garden, entertainment or commercial site to better understand how we interact with them and how they can provide a positive experience for people inhabiting them.

What have you done since you studied at the CCP, and what are you doing now?

I initially built my fine art photography practice by exploring the natural and urban environment looking for the beauty within mundane and abstract objects in nature. This resulted in my first solo exhibition ‘emerge’ in 2004. My second solo show, ‘Nocturnal’, held in 2011 explored the qualities of light after dark using moonlight or available street lighting. From 2012 to 2017, my street photography has been a huge focus to see what sort of images and interactions could be captured. Possibilities arise when you open yourself up to seeing things differently.

Mark's beautiful and contemplative "Nocturnal" exhibition was celebrated with a fantastic opening night at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery in 2011.

How has photography changed since you commenced your studies?

The biggest change is the growth of digital vs the traditional film process. Digital provides the comfort of instant feedback and easy access post production. Film photography is on the way back, which is great for those who prefer the hands-on approach using chemical processes.

How has photography changed your life?

It’s made an immense difference. My life before photography was all about sport and physical ability, personally and career wise. Through photography, I have realised another side of who I am beyond just being physical. The creativity involved in finding interest in places otherwise overly familiar to me has been terrific. I also feel I have become very tuned in to what makes a photograph work or not work.

Being a photography lecturer at the CCP has given me confidence to speak comfortably in front of groups of people. It’s also defined a greater understanding of a broad range of photography styles and what makes for a compelling photograph. My photographic eye has given me very good visual and spatial intelligence, which informs my landscape design practice.

How have you changed since you were a student?

It’s been 16 years since the beginning of my studies at the CCP and a lot has changed. I have two careers that complement each other which I continue to develop further. (Pardon the film pun).

Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work?

The two I respond to most are Paul Caponigro and Michael Kenna. Both are masters at capturing images in the urban and natural landscapes. I connect with every part of their practice from using traditional film and printing, to the spaces, images and compositions themselves.

Who are the people who have shaped your work and career?

A lot of people have helped shape my journey. The students I teach at the CCP are as equally as important as they are all very passionate about their pursuits in photography, which inspires me too.

Is there a person (from anywhere, dead or alive) you admire most?

Michael Kenna. His work helped me define a deeper understanding of my own work. His compositions are outstanding. A lot of his work has a very strong element of time in them using long exposures. His Japan series has been the most engaging for me. The minimalism the work inspires is sensational.

Is there one iconic image which has most impacted on you and your work?

There are two. The first I saw in my first term of study. It’s an image by Paul Outerbridge Jr titled ‘Cheese and Crackers’. My limited conceptual understanding of what made a photograph compelling was at odds with the subject matter. I visually connected with the ordered layout and began to understand the importance of lighting, composition and concept.

Cheese and Crackers Paul Outerbridge jr

Cheese and Crackers
Paul Outerbridge jr

The second image is by Michael Kenna. I found this image ‘Gondolas I, Venice, Italy’ absolutely captivating with the contrast of the blurred gondolas bobbing up and down on the tide against the stillness of the poles they’re berthed against. Whilst lecturing night photography in Pt Adelaide, I came across a potential scene that I directly attribute as being inspired by this Michael Kenna image. I decided there and then to do a night photography series with the image ‘Pt Adelaide Inner Harbour’, (third image in the series) being one of the last I photographed for the ‘Nocturnal’ work.

gondolas i, venice, italy michael kenna

gondolas i, venice, italy
michael kenna

Any surprises - good or bad - as you have progressed in your career?

No surprises really, other than realising how much photography has influenced my understanding of what a great landscape design is or can be. For example, a lot of gardens don’t follow any compositional rules which underutilises the potential to value add and look great.

Do you have any advice for student photographers?

Be passionate about the style of photography you’re interested in and pursue it relentlessly. Join the AIPP as a support network but also consider doing a business course for business practice, pricing and marketing purposes.

What is the best job you've done since you've been working in the industry?

I don’t have a memorable job to mention. I prefer the long-term process of creating a body of work through conceptualising, photographing, editing then presenting. I enjoyed my ‘Nocturnal’ series the most as night photography was such a different time to explore.

Any funny anecdotes from your experience in the industry?

Not anything funny, but I’ve had interesting moments when caught photographing on private property. The situations never came to more than a brief confrontation before being asked to leave with tail between the legs.

What are your passions outside of photography?

Always loved cycling and bushwalking but don’t dedicate enough time as I am busy designing landscape gardens. I love to travel. My last trip to New York City involved street photography and photographing the ‘High Line’. This is an elevated garden almost two and a half km long and built on a disused train line that winds between buildings from W34th street to the Whitney Museum near W13th street.

To see more of Mark’s work, visit his website, follow his Instagram @mark_s_goddard.
His professional landscape design services also can be found at Mr Goddard Landscape Design with design and horticulture imagery on Instagram at @goddard_mr.

(More than) 10 Questions: CCP Lecturer Chris Holmes

This week’s chapter in the history of the CCP is a more recent alumnus who has also started lecturing here, and that is Chris Holmes. Chris commenced his studies here in 2012 and graduated with his Diploma four years later when he commenced his teaching position.

Chris was a very popular and helpful student with his peers, and now as a lecturer, his cheeky and self-deprecating humour (which I totally get and love) had him lovingly labelled as “sassy and uncooperative” by one student last term.

When he’s here at the CCP, Aaron and I both love to tease him mercilessly and as a great sport, Chris gives as good as he gets, adding to the “back room banter” in our staff refuge which is pretty much what goes on between lectures when they’re not teaching classes.

What I really enjoy about the mix of lecturers at the CCP, is the diversity of skills, personalities and teaching styles each person brings to the task at hand and as such, Chris is no different. He has settled in very nicely with a range of camera, digital imaging and soon to be studio subjects.


He’s proven to be a very popular lecturer with the students as well thereby retaining the idiom he established when he first studied here. I also enjoy the creative bent Chris brings to his personal and professional work with “Scenes from a Shower” being his latest artistic endeavour and I think he very aptly summed up his approach to this fun series of portraits when he stated:

What I want you to find in this work is a unique reflection of the person, an image that tells us a story without contriving the final look. Most of my portrait work is studio lit, retouched

and enhanced for commercial use. This series is the antithesis of my usual approach and presents raw, desaturated, warts-and-all images.
Chris Holmes 6.jpg

Chris Holmes, I salute you, you are another valuable addition to the CCP crew and I’m very pleased you decided to tolerate me a bit more and become a part of the crew… over to you my friend.

Photograph by sam oster :: silvertrace

Photograph by sam oster :: silvertrace

MORE THAN 10 QUESTIONS: Chris Holmes (Creolumen Photography)

What first interested you, or made you fall in love with, photography?

As a young’un, I was one of those annoying pull-everything-apart children, always interested in how and why things worked the way they do. Somehow, I got my hands on a camera to pull apart, put back together.  Well, I didn’t know how to put it back together (like many of our household appliances) but this ignited my interest with the camera, the workings, the technical mechanics and lastly the creative allure.

Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

To be honest, at the time, it was probably a better option than joining a camera club, I think I recognised the need to learn some technical proficiency before I mastered the art of it. Google ranking put the CCP first, and having worked in Vocational Education myself, I recognised the value of this place.

Are you making personal work?

Tough question… yes and no. Mostly my work is paid (commercial work). But, I do get opportunities to involve myself in a project here and there and shoot some work just for me. My last commercial job ended up being poorly paid but highly rewarding as far as creativity, so that ended up as personal work! Early this year, I finished shooting a personal portrait series (Scenes from A Shower) which was amazingly creative and super fun.

What have you done since you studied at the CCP, and what are you doing now?

From studying, I now teach at the CCP. I also have my own photographic business ‘Creolumen Photography’ and work at Cog Creative Studio (Norwood) with other amazing creatives. I also work in Quality Management (the least connected skill to photography) so I also help out the CCP where I can to support their relentless need for compliance management.

How has photography changed since you commenced your studies?

Well, I’m new gen photography 101 – so I guess things are settling a bit with all this evolution from film to digital. I teach the digital subjects, so I’m a techno nerd that enjoys days tucked away, editing in the dark on a computer. I did study film and darkroom and they still resonate as a beautiful art, but I guess for the most of us, we’re all developing new digital skills and competencies. They say, necessity is the mother of invention – I think this applies here!

Chris 2.jpg

How have you changed since you were a student?

Yes, my hair is much whiter and I devote more time to complaining like an old person! But seriously, I’ve developed my own sense of confidence in photography. I’m not as intimidated by the camera, the technology or the client! I’ve become more curious to technological changes and commit to always developing skills. These are new curiosities I have developed since study. 

Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work – and why?

I always ask my students this question (Camera 1 – shameless plug). It’s important to find your photographic heroes and learn from their style and approach. Past photographers of inspiration would be Olive Cotton, Imogen Cunningham, Weegee and Margaret Bourke-White – all pioneering photographers that thought outside the box that inspired me to be more creative with my style.

Note: just look at her amazing nerves-of-steel to shoot this: Margaret Bourke-White, female pioneer, braver (with less vertigo) than I’d ever be.

Note: just look at her amazing nerves-of-steel to shoot this: Margaret Bourke-White, female pioneer, braver (with less vertigo) than I’d ever be.

Present would include Sam Oster – her highly developed technical ability juxtaposed with an incredible sense of artistic vision, she inspires me want to shoot and treat clients just like her. Mark Spaven, for you I have great respect for teaching me the technical art of the studio – your skills and excellent teaching ability gave me the confidence I have to develop my love for studio photography and spark my ongoing love for commercial work.

Who are the people who have shaped your work and career and why?

As above, the aforementioned photographers and also every other person who I’ve worked with, studied or collaborated with. Every time I’m around somebody, I learn from them. We should never be so arrogant or ego driven to discount the value and opportunity every person brings to you, good or bad.

Chris 0.jpg

Any surprises - good or bad - as you have progressed in your career?

The competitive nature of the industry! Getting consistent work is hard, the long hours, the dedication needed to accommodate clients and their expectations and unseen rewards when the client loves what you do.

Do you have any advice for student photographers?

Listen to others. Never be too eager to ‘showcase’ your skills, never be afraid to ask questions and absorb the information and perspective of others. Be ready to assist, be helpful and respectful and turn your damn phones off!

Light Painting and digital retouch is a keen combination of skills often experimented with.

Light Painting and digital retouch is a keen combination of skills often experimented with.

Any funny anecdotes from your experience in the industry?

Seriously! I spent two years shooting ‘Scenes From A Shower’. That was always going to result in some stories, nothing too much happened, but the really interesting stories I can’t really disclose here – it wouldn’t be respectful.

Apart from forgetting equipment, calling your clients the wrong name and turning up to jobs on the wrong day and time, nothing too much!

What are your passions outside of photography?

I work nearly full time in Quality Management, I run my own photographic business and I teach. Outside of photography… sleeping? Gin drinking? Something more noble, I volunteer my services to the RSPCA, that I love! I’d like to be a professional cat and dog cuddler (is that even a job?). I have great devotion to my two rescue-cats from the RSPCA.

Photographing horses for the RSPCA is always a great experience, this is the one that didn't bite!

Photographing horses for the RSPCA is always a great experience, this is the one that didn't bite!

(More than) 10 Questions: CCP Lecturer Mark Spaven

Close to home again today this episode features a much loved lecturer at the CCP Mark Spaven who has been teaching our studio-based subjects since 2009, well after we’d moved from Stepney into where we are now at Marleston. I first got to know Mark as he started becoming a regular renter of the studios here; he struck me as a straight shooter. When Mark made an observation to me about his confidence that he could make a positive contribution to our education program, I was interested.

You see, I am approached fairly often by people who feel that teaching here would be a good thing, and surely it would be. However when it isn’t clear that the hopeful lecturer can actually contribute and add to the unique program we offer at the CCP, the conversation won’t go much further. This institution is after all a living enterprise responsible for the future of a lot of students here in our community, and I truly believe that members of the faculty here are more than just mouthpieces espousing information to the “great unwashed”.

overhead commercial music.jpg

The resonance Mark Spaven tapped when he told me that he wished to contribute to our program here illustrated his desire to become a part of the crazy family collective we call the CCP crew. Of course it’s never as simple as just rocking up to class and teaching, firstly as I informed him, he required the mandatory qualifications of Workplace Assessor beyond his obvious skill set and training in photography. Naturally he was already working towards this qualification – another positive impression and another box ticked.

And so over a beer or two, we talked about photography, life and just what it meant to be a teacher – the last point being especially salient because Mark’s wife was a secondary school teacher (and still is) and so it came to pass, I decided to mentor Mark in the specifics of teaching and “cat herding”. He became my studio assistant when I was teaching my classes all while he was completing his Workplace Assessor qualifications. We ended each class in the evening at my place where I made him a light dinner which we washed down with a beer or two. This provided an excellent vehicle to de-brief about the particular evening’s class and various observations about positives and problems.

bw AussieClub.jpg

It was always an engaging conversation which naturally meandered into rock and roll, life and just growing up in our generation. I think this brand of fun continued between us for about six months until of course Mark Spaven was ready to fly the coop and be let loose upon the CCP students solo and I left him with the sage advice to “make it your own” because of course this is what is required to separate fact from fiction – especially if you are the one delivering the day’s lesson.

Mark in his time here has certainly made the classes he teaches his own and he has become an extremely valuable member of the teaching crew at the CCP. Just as important, Mark is an engaging lecturer, a great person and a good friend and I enjoy his self-deprecating humour which is totally refreshing. We still get to share the occasional beers together and I enjoy going to see his band at their live shows whenever possible because they are actually really excellent.

Mark’s students also love having him around in class and this is obviously important as a lecturer and I know Mark derives a lot of satisfaction from being at the coalface so to speak. And with that I introduce another chapter in the history of the Centre for Creative Photography at 20 years… Mark Spaven over to you.

Portrait of Mark Spaven by a CCP student (Apologies to the student for forgetting your name - if this is your image please let us know so we can credit you!)

Portrait of Mark Spaven by a CCP student
(Apologies to the student for forgetting your name - if this is your image please let us know so we can credit you!)


What first interested you, or made you fall in love with photography?

My parents moved our family from Canberra to Coffs Harbour, and then to Brisbane during my formative years. I knew nobody, and with my first pay packet I bought a RICOH range finder with a fixed lens. It gave me something to do and, using some fencing wire, I made a ring binder book out of my images. My second purchase was a sound system and my third, a car that I immediately drove back to Canberra upon receiving my driver’s licence. Four years later, still living in Canberra, I qualified as an Optical Mechanic. I then travelled overseas for two years. I hadn’t used the camera since Brisbane, so I dusted it off and took it travelling with me. When I arrived back in Australia, I lived in Sydney and showed my Kodachrome slide images from the trip to anyone that was interested. Everyone kept telling me how much they enjoyed the pictures; and I think that may have planted an unconscious seed. After two years in Sydney I came here to Adelaide and realised that I did not want to work in Optics long term. I decided that I would become a photographer. I enrolled in a TAFE course for photography and worked as a freelance optical mechanic while studying.

Are you making personal work?

I am making videos and posters for the band I now play in, in fact I have an animated clip for one of our original songs now playing in the current faculty exhibition at the Light Gallery. Why not drop past and see it – I think it’s a lot of fun and Gavin and Aaron make a cameo appearance... and if you can't make it in this month you can always check out the video here.

What inspires your work at the moment?

Teaching inspires me actually. I think I burnt out with photography a while ago; I worked as a creative on demand for 25 years and believe me when I say that running your own business without any safety net is tough. I loved it, but I am now really fortunate to be able to continue my career with teaching. It’s gratifying to pass on my experience.

What have you done since you started at the CCP, and what are you doing now?

Well I bought the camera first then the sound system. So of course I am now into song writing and gigging with GRID THE BAND. I still have clients that I shoot for; it’s just that I’m not looking to expand this enterprise any further.

How has photography changed since you started?

Wow, in many ways, the anxiety of waiting an hour and a half for a film transparency clip test, then that time again waiting to pick up the film at Duckpond (who merged with Atkins Technicolour a while ago), all while hoping you got the job done on time. We used to build film images in the studio while shooting Polaroids, a very slow and considered process and you were treated with a lot of respect and sometimes awe. I was shooting a lot of 5x4 for commercial usage. Trying to manipulate images with no Photoshop, I did a lot of art work for sets and also on images to stylize them. I think manipulation in Photoshop and the high ISO settings making low light more manageable are huge changes.  

How has photography changed your life?

Well, it really made my life. I started shooting bands, dancers, artist and actors. My first studio was shared with a dance company who were working with live musicians, I lived upstairs with one of the dancers, who I later married, and the studios were downstairs. It was a beautiful two-storey building cheaply rented to us by the government. They had cleared the site of businesses before we moved in, as they had bought the Hindmarsh site for what is now the Entertainment Centre, leaving most of it vacant for a few years. It was a very bohemian lifestyle, tap dancing classes Monday nights, we rented space to artists and got involved with the local community on that side of the city. It was the beginning of my metamorphosis from a country boy into a city boy. I’ve had had a lot to do with horses, rodeos and country life in my past and a lot of my friends were on farms in my early years.

Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work?

I started looking at English photographers like Bill Brandt and Michael Cline, all the black and white shooters. I loved the European light and their take on form and composition. Then once I acquired some serious overheads I was looking at a lot of magazine editorial as I had to actually make some serious money.

Who are the people who have shaped your work and career and why?

Joe Disario gave me my first big break. I had signed the lease on a large commercial space off Port Road, and I had nothing. I borrowed $1000 off my dad, bought a 5x4 inch view camera and signed a lease with six Italian business men, all related to each other. I negotiated three months free rent with them and thought if I didn’t survive the three months then what would I have to lose, nothing... although, I did have a recurring dream about a pair of cement boots and a subsequent sinking! I bought some very cheap flash heads and made soft boxes out of foam core. I then shot some commercial images which I took around to art directors. Joe gave me the LE GROG catalogue, then Pizza Haven. I also shot some big furniture catalogues for him. I was on my way as the money started to flow in. I sublet the studio to some film makers and began building the space into purpose built studios.

Do you have any advice for student photographers?

I was working with advertising agencies and graphic designers; I then teamed up with some designers, an illustrator and a writer. They moved into the studios with me and we set up a production company. We began working with direct clients which gave us control of the creative process; we had a round table approach. It was a great time and we did some really nice work together. I also took on a lot of different types of work, from very creative to basic retail. Now there seems to be a lot of crossover happening with visual communication and as such I would advise students to try and be versatile across graphics, web design and photography through association or training.

What is the best job you've done since you've been working in the industry?

Put it this way, it was perceived as the best job according to my friends. A company called Multivision helped me with an audio visual production that I was working on with a dance company. I showed the final production to Rob Brookman, from the Festival, using Mulitivision’s facilities and equipment. Multivision happened to have a job with the Grand Prix which they offered me. I shot rapid still images of the track volunteers and Multivision made a large multi-screen presentation, shown outdoors, using banks of slide projectors. It was shown outdoors at the after party to Tina Turner’s hit, Simply The Best. I did it for several years and had a pass to go anywhere I wanted. I even got a regular high speed turn around the race track in the clearing car with flags flying. I never shot one car during the entire time I was covering the event.

Ironically, the only race I didn’t photograph was the first race, but I did work there as a barman in the one and only beer (Coopers) tent on site. Saturday was fine but on Sunday race day, myself and four other barman served 250,000 patrons (not all buying beer, but still!). First we ran out of cups, and then the beer wouldn’t pour in the 40+ degree temperature. We couldn’t even get stock into the tent because the crowds were so thick. I started at 9am, and had to fight my way through, it was insane! We were surrounded the whole day by an angry mob that had lined up waiting for hours. Every order was a full tray and half the time we couldn’t serve them. I really thought they were going to jump the trestles and kill us! So there you have it, my best and worst jobs were both at the Adelaide Grand Prix!

(More than) 10 Questions: Award-winning Graduate Bernie Kaeding

This latest chapter features a recent graduate, Bernadette (Bernie) Kaeding (CCP Diploma 2014), who has since become pretty much a permanent fixture here at the CCP.

At least, Bernie is always present through her generous support of our exhibition openings in the Light Gallery with her wine label Red Art. And that’s as good a time as any to mention that Bernie will be supporting the upcoming CCP faculty exhibition, this year titled “Frame”. We will have a Red Art 2012 shiraz and 2011 petit verdot during all night long for your enjoyment.

Red Art is a collaboration with Bernie's partner in life Sam Kurtz and both are now both warm friends of the community that is the CCP.

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This dynamic duo have lived in Tanunda ever since I have known Bernie as a student. I was always so impressed that Bernie would make the drive down (and back after her classes finished at 10:00pm weekdays), often twice a week and sometimes more when Bernie broke the back of her Certificate IV. I remember all this was happening while working the winery full-time!

I recall Bernie first enrolled at the CCP just to complete a few subjects here, being Introduction to Photography to learn how to operate her camera and then Camera Portfolio 1 for a bit of conceptualising, so she could simply make images for her wine labels.

This was in 2010 and Bernie just kept going, completing her Certificate IV within a year. Bernie was hooked on photography and she kept coming back until graduating in 2014 with the final subject for her Diploma of Photo Imaging being Photography for an Exhibition, an intensive class we only run every couple of years.

But Bernie wasn’t quite done… the next term we asked if she would be interested in Portrait Photography 2 as an extra subject. This final subject fascinatingly enough provided the germ of an idea which went on to become an award winning book titled “True Stories - Portraits of Barossa Winemakers”.

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The book was relaunched here at the CCP with an exhibition and of course a delightful degustation featuring a wonderful selection of Red Art wines. As an aside, Bernie runs similar dinners semi-regularly and I would highly recommend you attend!

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Never one to sit on her laurels, Bernie is always developing her artistic projects and of course her wines have won numerous awards and as I tell anyone who will listen that I “bathe in this stuff” as often as I can! Most of all though, I really love the meshing of Bernie’s photographic vision with her passion for wine making. Just recently Joanna and I hung yet another one of Bernie’s images from her latest portfolio in our ever growing art collection at home, and as such we get to share in this vision every day.


Now a firm friend of ours, it gives me great pleasure to illuminate today’s post with more than 10 questions from Bernadette Kaeding. Over to you Bernie:

MORE THAN 10 QUESTIONS: Bernadette Kaeding

Photograph (c) Milton Wordley

Photograph (c) Milton Wordley

What first interested you, or made you fall in love with, photography?

When I was in high school I had the opportunity to choose Photography as one of my elective subjects.  I had been quite fascinated by photography.  I was always keen on art, but felt the traditional drawing and painting was not suited to me.  This was confirmed by my year 9 art teacher who so eloquently wrote in my report card “she lacks the ability to draw”. Not one speck of constructive or positive feedback.  Just that one statement.  As you can see, I was able to let that slide and not hold on to any ill feelings.  Anyway, during the photography class, we were given little film cameras (this was back in the 80’s, so no digital) to photograph around the school and at home.  Once we got in the darkroom to process the film my love of photography materialised.  


Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

After school I completed a Commerce Degree and entered the workforce, soon ending up in the wine industry. My partner Sam and I ended up purchasing our own vineyard and built a small winery.  I wanted to incorporate my love of photography into our business, initially through label design. I had my eye on the CCP for a few years.  Living in the Barossa, working and having a child, meant that it was difficult to get to the city and commit to any study.  When my son started school I decided it was time to squeeze the CCP into my life.  I liked the look of the CCP compared to other institutions because while it provided qualifications, there seemed to be flexibility and most importantly a strong sense of creativity.

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Are you making personal work?

Yes, I have started work on a new series which will be exhibited in my winery for an event in April 2017. I am only just into it, and I think the direction is going to change, so you’ll just have to wait and see where it ends up.

What inspires your work at the moment?

Stories and emotions.  My environment.  Light and shadow - it’s called Chiaroscuro - a term I learned when I first went into the studio as a student.

What have you done since you studied at the CCP, and what are you doing now?

I continue to work at my winery (with my partner Sam) which involves everything from grape growing, making wine, selling wine, and label design and so on.  I incorporate photography into my business through design and promotional imagery.  I also display my work in the winery and at consumer events.  It is a big part of my business.  My most recent completed project was a book and exhibition “True Stories: Portraits of Barossa Winemakers”.

Edit: here Bernie neglects to mention that in the 2016 Gourmand world cookbook awards, her “True Stories” won best wine book in Australia, and third in the world. If one does make it into this top three they may use the sobriquet "Best In The World".

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How has photography changed your life? 

It has given me so much joy, relaxation, happiness.  It provides me with the creative outlet I need, a different way of communicating and balances my business brain.  It has been extremely satisfying incorporating my two loves in one business; art and wine.

How have you changed since you were a student?

I have become a lot more confident in photography and in getting it out there.  My studies gave me skills, inspiration and a sense of direction.  Using that since study, and even while studying, has allowed me to use photography in my chosen areas (and not the areas that I don’t choose).

Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work?

I know he was not a photographer, but since I was a teenager my biggest influence has been Rembrandt, purely because of the lighting and the drama, emotion and story telling his paintings invoke.  In the summer holidays after finishing year 12 I worked in an art gallery called the Hahndorf Academy.  We were exhibiting a Rembrandt etching series.  I spent those holidays reading every Rembrandt book we had in the gallery shop. My most influential photographer is Sally Mann, particularly her “Immediate Family” series.  Whenever I am looking for inspiration I pull out my Sally Mann books.

Any surprises - good or bad - as you have progressed in your career?

I didn’t know I could publish a book!  That was a real surprise.   

Edit: Did you know that you can purchase this piece of the Barossa history for just $35.00

Do you have any advice for student photographers?

Research as many artists as you can.  Look in all areas because you never know where new inspirations can come from.  Take risks with your photography and don’t pigeon hole yourself; allow yourself to follow any direction.  

Further reading: Please take the time to read this fabulous interview with Bernie elaborating on her relationship to the wine industry... Cheers!

(More than) 10 Questions: CCP Lecturer Mike Lim

Following on from the inspirational words from former student and now CCP lecturer Jess Eckermann, today’s episode features the very first student who followed into the teaching pool at the CCP, Mike Lim.

I knew Mike pre CCP when I was a course co-ordinator elsewhere and was also teaching various subjects in visual art which included photography which is how I encountered Mike as a student. Mike was very new to photography at the time…

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Mike had a passing interest in the medium as does everyone else who enrols in such subjects I suppose, however something about him even at that early stage impressed me with his thoughtfulness and application towards this new-found art form. I believe he took three subjects in total at the time he was at that other institution, the last one being with me before I spat the proverbial dummy and moved over lock stock and barrel to the former CCP location in Stepney. Mike immediately followed and enrolled in the first subject ever taught at the CCP, Photographic Concepts 1 in Term 2 1997 which commenced in May.

You may recall readers that Mike has already featured in one of the historical blog images in the pinhole portrait of this first class along with Sue Michael.

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Mike remained as a part-time student at the CCP until his graduation with the original award of Certificate IV in Creative Photography in 2000. Since that time he has held a number of job descriptions here as front of house, studio and darkroom assistant, gallery curator, assistant to the Director along of course primarily with his lecturing in photographic, digital and conceptual subjects. This broad experience has also given Mike a very deep understanding of the machinations of decision making and the philosophy behind the scenes at the CCP and he is always enthused as a popular and positive addition to the mix of personalities here.

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I like to call Mike the “intellectual” of the crew as he always has a slightly different bent on topics open for discussion and his clarity of thought never ceases to amaze me. By way of example, I have often sent out a subject blurb to Mike for comment; asking something like “are you available for this subject on this day?”, only to get the blurb back edited for better grammar and clarification of what I mean to say!

But this is what continues to make everyone at the CCP such a valuable contributor to the education program offered here. The different people, the different approaches and their confident interpretation of photographic art continue to keep the subjects and content vital and challenging for the student body.

Now, over to you Mike…

Shower portrait of Mike Lim by Chris Holmes

Shower portrait of Mike Lim by Chris Holmes

(More than) 10 questions - Mike Lim

What first interested you, or made you fall in love with, photography?

When I was a kid, my grandfather had a copy of that iconic Life book of photos with pictures by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Margaret Bourke-White, Nick Ut and many others. Every time I went over to my grandparents' house I'd pull out this book.

When I was about 12 I got a Nikon FG with a 50mm lens for christmas and was hooked. I shot as much as I could afford to. On road trips my dad would indulge me by stopping to let me shoot something that caught my eye. (Years later that camera got stolen out of the car near the Flinders Ranges.)

I don't know why photography specifically. It could just as easily have been comic books, or volleyball. But now, it feels so central, I can't imagine being without it. I'd never be able to fake my own death, because you'd be able to catch me by staking out the photography section at the bookstore.

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Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

The CCP was 5 minutes from my house. :P

I was hungry for more in photography so I enrolled in a camera class at the North Adelaide School of Art. It was Gavin Blake's last class there, as it happened, and I followed him over the new CCP he was just starting up. I got some solid technical knowledge from Gavin, and he showed me a wide range of photo work that really opened up photo culture for me. Studying with Gavin changed my attitude to photography, to something I took more seriously, but also to something more playful.

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Are you making personal work?

I've got a few things on the boil. I'm editing a portrait project and expanding a cityscape one. I'm shooting a lot of things with my phone.

What inspires your work at the moment?

The chance to make connections with people. The way photography gets me to pay attention to the world. Seeing the passion that people have for whatever craft they practice. The inventiveness of the students I teach.

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How has photography changed since you commenced your studies?

It's become easier to share work and to learn about things. For example, with my phone I can catch photographers, writers and curators on a podcast, see new photo work from all over the world, buy a photobook, read someone's ideas, take, edit and publish my own pictures, all while riding the bus home. Also the Nikon F3 that I longed for as a teenager is now pretty affordable on ebay.

How has photography changed your life?

I look at the world in a particular way. It's shown me that I can teach. I've found work with it, and it's given me skills that supplement the non-photographic work that I do. I've met a lot of people through photography. I've spent too much money on gear and books.

Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work?

Henri Cartier-Bresson – among the earliest visual poetry that I remember. Ralph Gibson – the way he composes individual frames is sublime and his books make those frames resonate with each other. Mary Ellen Mark – there's a deep interest and empathy in her pictures. And she was one of the first people I saw who used the square frame eloquently.

Edward Burtynsky – his pictures are visually stunning but open into such important discussions about the environment, economics, consumption. Sally Mann – most of her work is made close to home, and I love how it's so thoughtful and evolving. Zack Arias – his approach to working professionally with whatever resources you have is inspiring.


Do you have any advice for student photographers?

Be bold. Don't be thinking you don't have the right equipment, or that you're not creative. Start something.

Who are the people who have shaped your work and career?

Gavin Blake, as I said earlier, was a fundamental influence. Fellow CCP teachers like Sam Oster who taught me technical things, and encouraged me with conceptual things. Photographer buddies like Ben Liew and Peter Barnes who have given me opportunities and encouragement.

Sometimes we photograph things because they are significant and important. Sometimes we photograph things because they don’t seem important at first and we want to imbue them with a little more consequence. These objects (the ‘Worthy Objects’ photographs) are privately important to their owners, but otherwise they would be worth little. I’ve photographed them to help their owners share their specialness and as a way of thinking about the worthiness of everyday things.

Any surprises - good or bad - as you have progressed in your career?

I've realised that a small portion of the picture-making is putting camera to eye and pressing the shutter. Aside from editing, you also have to organise your office, test your technical stuff, get access, cultivate relationships, and wait for things.

Any funny anecdotes from your experience in the industry?

I once showed up at a shoot an hour late because it was the first day after daylight saving and I'd slept in.

Follow Mike's photography and projects

Tumblr  |  Instagram  |  Flickr  |  Website  |  cinememory.tumblr.com

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(More than) 10 Questions: CCP Lecturer Jessica Eckermann

One of the greatest pleasures I’ve experienced since opening the CCP in 1997, is watching and experiencing the development of some excellent students who grow on to become contemporary artists. They practice photography with a singular and original passion which extends and celebrates the uniqueness of the medium. Some of these people are of course being featured in the fortnightly blog posts as we celebrate 20 years of CCP life on this crazy planet – you have read about them and will be reading about them for the rest of our celebratory year.

Taking this to an even higher level, there are a select few in my opinion whom I’ve observed demonstrating a fantastic desire to share this passion with a generosity of spirit, meted out with excellent communication skills to share this confidence with their peers. It’s a singular love and sharing of the medium that my mentor John Weiss illustrated (and stressed) to me nearly 30 years ago while I was his Graduate Student at the University of Delaware.

Naturally I am extremely proud to be surrounded by these people as an educator. I have grown to appreciate these qualities in teachers, lecturers, facilitators and anyone who becomes responsible for passing the torch so to speak to yet another generation of (in this case) artists so they too may continue their growth with any medium they choose to express themselves with.

These former students I choose to approach and ask if they would like to become lecturers at the CCP after their graduation, and if the right circumstances prevail, they agree to come on board and indulge in the beauty of “messing with people’s minds in the sacrosanct act of delivering the message of creativity to the great unwashed!” as I like to say.

They choose to undertake this gift of giving so that their charges may too develop the confidence to express themselves in the medium of photography and develop their artistic voice just as the now-lecturers have. This is the tenet which all lecturers and support crew here at the CCP abide in an unspoken way. It comes naturally to them, because a generosity of spirit is innate; you realise that giving it away also has its own rewards and manifests itself in many different ways – just not necessarily as you may imagine. Teaching is a discovery and reward in itself.

This observation brings me to this fortnight’s chapter – a former student of the CCP who is now a loved member of the CCP crew – Jessica Eckermann.

Jess came to us in Term 1 of 2003 while we were still located on Union Street Stepney and studied fairly full time until 2003 when she’d earned her Certificate IV which I believe also coincided with her graduation from teacher’s college with a degree in Secondary School “Cat Herding”. This placed a bit of a crimp in her future studies at the CCP however, with Jessica’s usual determination, she continued her play at the CCP with single subjects in 2004 & 2005 while finding her teaching legs then undertaking more subjects here until graduating with her full Diploma in 2006.

I love Jessica’s “contemporary retro” bent with her own photography and I am extremely pleased Jess has been a member of the CCP teaching crew since 2009. It is because of her continued contribution and enthusiasm towards this program that the CCP continues to thrive along with our students and crew. Naturally today’s chapter is not to be missed as Jessica illuminates us with her observations of life post-graduation and her choice of more than 10 questions to respond to… Jessica Eckermann, over to you my friend, you are a delight to work with and to tease!

MORE THAN 10 QUESTIONS Jessica Eckermann

What first interested you, or made you fall in love with, photography?

I first got interested in photography in high school as we could take the photography class instead of a compulsory science class in year 11.  

Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

After high school I missed working in the darkroom and wanted to continue black and white photography in some way. I had bought darkroom gear with a friend but without the space to set it up permanently, I didn’t get much of a chance to use it. I had deferred University twice and found myself stuck working at a Subway fast food chain where I would often spend my lunch breaks poring through the employment section in search of a better career. It was in the Education & Training advertisements at the end where I saw the ad to study photography at the CCP. I picked up the phone right then and called. By the end of the conversation I was enrolled in three classes starting that week – I came in and paid with cash as I was so desperate to get out of Subway!

Are you making personal work?

I’m always attempting some sort of personal work in my spare time. However, I often have more ideas than I have time to execute them! My personal work often has strong connections to vintage eras and self-portraits but I also like to work outside of these areas when the urge arises, particularly with alternative cameras and processes such as the Holga, the Spinner 360 and cyanotypes.

What inspires your work at the moment?

I’m usually inspired by ideas around narratives and aesthetics with a sense of nostalgia – I feel I could explore past lives through photography forever! At the moment I’m experimenting with some compositing and also responding to the natural environment after having moved back up into the Adelaide Hills recently.

What have you done since you studied at the CCP, and what are you doing now?

Since studying at the CCP I have predominantly become an educator. I have worked in both high schools and the VET sector, primarily teaching photography. My photography business is mainly portrait based with some work in weddings also. Currently I am teaching at the CCP and working in an adult re-entry high school.

How has photography changed since you commenced your studies?

I didn’t have a strong focus for where I wanted to go with photography or much of a personal style when I first began studying. I have developed a stronger sense of aesthetic and a deeper technical focus and understanding. The biggest change of all of course is that digital is now my primary medium rather than film.

How has photography changed your life?

As a person with an intrinsic artistic need constantly demanding to be fuelled, I have always required multiple outlets to allow me to create. I feel that photography happened to be the one I engaged with the most and incidentally has had the biggest impact on my life.

How have you changed since you were a student?

I drink alcohol now with Gavin and Aaron and I never did that when I was studying at the CCP! …(Ha ha, no please don’t include that :-) )

Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work?

Harry Callahan was the first photographer I remember being truly amazed by. He didn't have just one technique or one style and I loved the creativity and versatility of his approach with his portraits of his wife Eleanor to his street photography and abstracted landscapes.

Cindy Sherman introduced me to the world of self-portraiture. After learning of her work in Photographic Concepts 1 I made my own attempts at creating narratives where I got to play all the characters. I was hooked and have kept coming back to this concept for over a decade and feel I could keep exploring this forever. I still feel my self-portrait work is my best and most satisfying work to date.

Richard Avedon is one of my favourite portrait photographers, especially his series In The American West - a stark contrast to his celebrity portrait work, which is also great, but showing the rough and gritty reality of his subjects.

Alex Prager is a contemporary photographer who explores narratives through large scale tableaus with a very cinematic style. I feel a real resonance with her work and I especially enjoy the tension and drama she builds into her series.

Lastly, I feel W Eugene Smith is the ultimate story teller through his photo essay social documentary work. His perfectionism and dedication to "the story" is something I feel inspired by.

Who are the people who have shaped your work and career?

From being a mentor and then later my employer, it would be an understatement to say that Gavin Blake has had a prevalent role in shaping my career as both a photographer and an educator.

As far as the business side of photography goes, I have had to learn many things on my own but being able to talk to others with experience in the industry was also beneficial. More recently, I have found a vast amount of knowledge has come from the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), which keeps me up to date with industry standards and code of practice to work by.

Any surprises - good or bad - as you have progressed in your career?

I was surprised at how difficult it was to continue my artistic photographic work after I finished university and started working beyond full time hours with my teaching work during the day and photography work on nights, weekends and during school holidays. The energy and emotion that a career can take from you is overwhelming and it can be hard to make the time to indulge in creative work. The creative process didn’t seem to come so easily when I was feeling burnt out at the end of every day. Forcing the mindset to create work can be difficult but it’s harder and certainly more disappointing if you don’t.

Do you have any advice for student photographers?

The work you do while studying is the most fun and freedom you ever get to have – despite the perceived constraints of the assessment tasks you are working to. Professional work is all about meeting someone else’s brief and while the outcome can be satisfying, the work isn’t as fun as your own creative explorations. Enjoy the luxury of following your own agenda and making mistakes without the pressure of delivering a product!

(More than) 10 Questions: Emerging Photographer of the Year Bente Andermahr

One of the fantastic CCP experiences I never tire of is the varied lives of the students who pass through the doors of the CCP to commence their photographic career.

The featured graduate for today’s 20th Anniversary blog is no different. Before becoming a student at the CCP Bente Andemahr had already received her Diploma in Teaching (Secondary-Fine Arts) from the (then) South Australian School of Art/Western Teachers College in 1971, and had been teaching art and design in NSW and SA for over 23 years. Bente had also received her Bachelor of Visual Communications (Graphic Design) from UniSA 2001 which along with the Certificate IV in Photo imaging from the CCP has been well used in her (now) profession “Andemahr Photography”.

Bente is an imaginative Adelaide-based designer who prides herself in creating an environment that thrills and exceeds clients’ expectations and she primarily offers primarily two types of (favourite) services: creating unique photographic art to suit the colour and theme of styled interiors and interpreting the creative work of designers, decorators and stylists with images that recognise each client’s individualism.

Bente Andermahr commenced her studies with a course in Term 1 in the last year of the CCP at Union Street in Stepney in 2004, returning in Term 1 2005 when we’d moved to Marleston officially and were finally conducting our first classes there. Bente graduated with her Certificate IV in Photo imaging in 2006 – returning in 2007 to complete one more subject being Advanced Lighting 2 with former CCP lecturer Ken Binns. Most significantly Bente has just been awarded the AIPP (SA) emerging photographer for 2017 and so funnily enough, even after 10 years in the industry, Bente is still emerging!

Bente’s passion with photography started very early on as a very keen enthusiast, following the growth of the family and capturing travel locations and architectural inspirations for later artwork. Before she enrolled at the CCP, Bente was entering photographic competitions, local and international exhibitions, building upon her photographic talent, skills and creativity, extending her oeuvre particularly into anything architectural, industrial and mechanical.

Among Bente’s achievements since graduating from the CCP are: Three Silver Medals: South Australia AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards (2017) Three Silver Medals: SA AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards (2016), an Honourable Mention: Siena International Photo Awards Exhibition for Architecture (2015) and her photographic work exhibited extensively throughout Adelaide and South Australia, and internationally online where it has also been noted for several special merits including the Royal Society of Art (SA) Inaugural Portrait Prize Exhibition.

No 1 King William Street, Adelaide (Went to Siena International Photo Awards Exhibition for Architecture 2015)

No 1 King William Street, Adelaide
(Went to Siena International Photo Awards Exhibition for Architecture 2015)

Never to retire, Bente is also a volunteer Gallery Guide at the Art Gallery of South Australia where she absolutely loves to impart her passion about elements of the collection and exhibitions to visitors.

Bente welcomes any enquiries you may have regarding your photographic needs either work for hire or wall decor at bente@andermahrphotography.com or 0403 177 252.

Over to you Bente, it is always great talking with you on Tuesdays over a coffee at Alfonso’s on Hutt St, Adelaide, and congratulations on your latest achievements at this year’s APPAS.


1.    Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

I looked around at the time (2003? -close, it was 2004 Bente!) for an opportunity to formally learn some skills in the photography I had spent my life indulging in, and the CCP was really the only choice, in that it had credentials, was easy to get to (at Stepney then) and outlined the details of the courses available and their content. I only intended to do the one term, but it was kind of addictive, so I returned the following year and did another, then another unit over subsequent Terms until I had achieved the Certificate IV in early 2006. I must say that it has been the best, clear most practical study I have done, with photographic experts providing the training.

2.    Are you making personal work?

I spend much of my time doing personal work. Firstly, I create fine art images using my photography, and explore the concepts of impermanence, transience and imperfection, working through a reductive style of abstraction, taking it as far as I can without losing reference to the original source of the idea. My inspirations come from harbours, airports and railway stations and the markings found there. It is a slow but very creative and personally fulfilling area of work, hopefully leading to an exhibition. My second personal project is just getting off the ground now, where I am photographing and researching the architectural work of women architects in South Australia. It is very much a work-in-progress.

3.    What inspires your work at the moment?

My work at the moment is inspired by the outstanding architectural photographers around the traps today, such a Peter Barnes, David Sievers, Mark Zed (also a CCP graduate), Tim Griffith, John Gollings and William Long. They are doing the work I aspire to and it is very inspiring when you speak with them and tap into some of their thinking.

4.    What have you done since you studied at the CCP, and what are you doing now?

Since then, I have done a number of photographic projects including a baby shoot, corporate photos, winery work, real estate photography and other commercial jobs. I also
• went back to university to complete my Graduate Diploma in Visual Art and Design (Photography)
• joined Australian Photographic Society (APS)
• did the graphical layout and published with the APS two books of collections of the works of Australia wide members
• entered and did well in a number of international photographic competitions (including a Honorary Merit award at the Sienna Inaugural Photography Awards in Italy)
• joined the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photographers)
• Entered the AIPP APPA (Australian Professional Photographers Awards) for the first time last year and gained 3 Silver awards – I received another 3 Silvers this year – how thrilling!

Currently I am working on my Women Architects in SA project and growing my architectural/commercial photography work.

5.    How have you changed since you were a student?

Essentially, I have changed in that I have become better aware of where my photographic skills sit in the industry (commercial and fine art) and I am gradually gaining the confidence to assert myself more in achieving my goals.

6.    Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work?

A huge list of the architectural and urban works of photographers such as Wolfgang Sievers, The Russian Constructivists (Alexander Rodchenko etc), The Bauhaus photographers (Maholy-Nagy etc), the German Dusseldorf school graduates (Andreas Gursky etc), Aaron Siskind, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Harry Callahan, Charles Sheeler, Kathrine Westerhout, to name just a very few.

7.    Is there a person (from anywhere, dead or alive) you admire most?

I am not sure there is just one outside the Australian painter Jeffrey Smart. His subject matter, the compositional discipline and the sheer evocativeness of his stark urban landscape here and in Italy have irrevocably impacted my eye and work.

8.    Is there one iconic image which has most impacted on you and your work?

I can’t think of one particular iconic image in isolation, but I was very inspired and activated in photography by a book covering the world’s most impactful photographs.

9.    Any surprises - good or bad - as you have progressed in your career?

Having been a mature student when I went to the CCP, and having spent my life (even if creatively focussed) in working for an organisation, my surprise has been the challenge in self motivation and working alone in trying to transition as a self-employed photographer. Instead of, in a sense, work waiting for you to do within an organisation, my surprise is the adjustment I am needing to make to create my work, seek out the opportunities, find paid work, manage the business side, discipline my schedule to cover my needs and remain motivated and self-assured as I progress, learn and achieve. It is not for everyone.

10.    Do you have any advice for student photographers?

Simple; keep the passion. Have faith in your own voice/style in photography, find the niche it sits within, and don’t give up. Life is continual learning, it never stops, so be prepared to seek, investigate, research, try new techniques and experiment even if the areas are off the track of photography. It all goes to broadening your mind, perception and ultimately the quality and message of your photography.

Join the AIPP (while a student), to meet a great and willing group of photographers working in the industry. Compete in well chosen competitions that suit your genre. (AIPP APPA is a good start).

11.    What are your passions outside of photography?

Is there a life outside photography? Facetious I know, but finding a work-life balance is important. However, I am a creative creature who has been involve in fine arts all my life, so my passion outside photography is the volunteer touring I do art the Art Gallery of South Australia, for students and the public, through the permanent collection and particularly the feature exhibitions (like the Versus Rodin currently on show). In our on-going training, I am particularly passionate about researching and presenting to the gallery guides on photography. 

Opus Exhibition: a fantastic Sunday opening

The “OPUS” exhibition class embarked on their journey with great success at their opening last Sunday at Magpie Springs Cellar Door and Gallery just outside Willunga on Brookman Road Hope Forest – the exhibition looks fantastic. Philip White the raconteur and bon vivant opened the show with his usual thoughtful words of wisdom which certainly illuminated the work presented.

All seven exhibitors have extended themselves, creatively and artistically. They have developed a very clear idea of how important organisational skills are in order to successfully plan, develop, publicise and launch a unique public exhibition of their art work.

Incredibly the day before, there was a wedding at Magpie Springs which meant that there were a load of trestle tables laid out from that event which meant those who arrived earlier to avail themselves of a picnic before the opening were spoiled for choice as to where to sit – perfect!

Last Sunday, I certainly enjoyed basking in the light of what they have created in the 26 weeks we’ve been meeting. For now their journey is complete until it’s time to organise the exhibition’s second venue at the Light Gallery at the Centre for Creative Photography in June.

OPUS exhibition at
Magpie Springs April 9 – June 3
The Light Gallery June 23 – July 21

I hope you can make this most excellent showing of photographs.
Gavin Blake

PS don't miss Philip White's delicous, poetic take on the exhibition at his Drinkster blog