Guns & Basketball … PNG & Cairns …

What a difference a week makes …

Chalk ‘n’ Cheese …

One week I’m in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, shooting (if you’ll excuse the term) images of camouflaged ‘Special Services’ police heavily armed with automatic weapons … and the next week I’m banging away at fourteen Commonwealth Games basketball games and the heir to the British throne. That’s why I’m thoroughly rapt with the job I’m privileged to do.

The story in PNG … with words by excellent ‘News’ journalist Charles Miranda … was based on gun running into Australia’s closest neighbour in the lead up to the visits of the World’s leaders (including Trump and Putin) to the APEC conference in Port Moresby in November. The story and pics got a great run in many News Ltd mastheads around the country including The Daily Telegraph, the Courier Mail, The West Australian … and more that I haven’t yet seen.

Back in Cairns in time for the XXI Commonwealth Games and the mens and womens Preliminary and Qualifying Finals basketball games with teams from India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nigeria, New Zealand, Canada, England, Scotland … and Australia. (Sadly … the one game featuring England was disastrous if you hailed from across ‘The Ditch’ … they were duly thrashed by the Cannacks.)

Basketball, played in a perfectly lit but sterile indoor environment, is generally formulaic to shoot … but I did spend a few valuable minutes attempting something a little different during a couple of games … including an image I was a little pleased with (middle pic below) made during the Australian win over Nigeria. A slow shutter speed combined with a bit of vertical panning …

Prince Charles also made an appearance at the basketball and, as the ‘Pool’ photographer, my images of Charley were made available to all of Getty Images, the European Press Photo Agency (EPA) and my ’employer’ Australian Associated Press (AAP). Security, protocol, time restraints and bully tactics by broadcast media meant that good images were a challenge … but I did produce what I thought a nice comprehensive set.

So … a rewarding couple of weeks work … and variety is certainly the ‘spice of life’.

Below … one of my images of PNG ‘Special Services’ officers … and just one of the published ‘News’ feature pages (The Daily Telegraph) … pics from my Commonwealth Games basketball coverage (Australia V Nigeria and Scotland V Nigeria) and the visit of Prince Charles.

Images © Brian Cassey, News Ltd and AAP

Papua New Guinea 'Special Services' police - image by Brian Cassey

Papua New Guinea 'Special Services' police - The Daily Telegraph - by Brian Cassey

Australia's Angus Brandt (left) and Nigeria's Prince Orizu contest during the Men's Preliminary Round Pool A Basketball between Australia and Nigeria at the XXI Commonwealth Games Cairns, Australia. Image by Brian Cassey

Nigeria's Musa Usman goes up to shoot as Scotland's Alasdair Fraser tries to block during the Men's Qualifying Finals basketball game between Scotland and Nigeria at the XXI Commonwealth Games in Cairns - image by Brian Cassey

Britain's Prince Charles (with former Australian and WNBA basketball player Lauren Jackson to his right) during the India V New Zealand women's basketball game at the Commonwealth Games, Cairns - image by Brian Cassey



‘Armani Refugees’ … Not … !

It’s not too often that your work prompts days worth of National news coverage … but that has been the case since last weeks job for the Daily Telegraph and News Ltd in Papua New Guinea.

The job description from the DT pic desk was succinct … get to Port Moresby and find the first group of refugees that were flying out of Manus Island en route to the United States. In short … I did find them, spoke to them, shared drinks and (almost) a shisha pipe with them … and photographed them at Port Moresby airport as they departed for resettlement in the US.

The images were published page one and page six of the Daily Telegraph (below) … and almost instantly Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton denounced the asylum seekers in my photographs (variously from Myanmar, Sudan, Bangladesh, Somalia, etc) for their dress and refugee status, during a radio interview with Sydney’s Roy Hadley. The term “Armani Refugees” was bantered about.

This par is from The Guardian … “Mr Dutton, asked about an image of those preparing to depart Port Moresby, said a lot of people who ended up in the island camps had not come from war-ravaged areas but were instead economic refugees. They’d received “an enormous amount of support” from Australian taxpayers for a long time. “We have been taken for a ride, I believe, by a lot of the advocates and people within Labor and the Greens who want you to believe this is a terrible existence,” Mr Dutton said.”

So … there you have it … being incarcerated behind numerous massive razor wire topped fences for a period of around four years, being subjected to physical and mental torment despite being classified as ‘genuine refugees’ by government agencies whist also NOT being a criminal … is astonishingly described by Dutton as “receiving an enormous amount of support”!

Let’s get this straight … the clothing of those asylum seekers who I saw depart PNG was either … donated by charities or government … or purchased on the very cheap from Manus Island road side stalls or shops. Armani or Gucci didn’t come into it.

Labor’s Chris Bowen fired back at Dutton … “They are refugees, they’ve been found by him (Immigration Minister Peter Dutton) and his government to be genuine refugees under the (UN 1951 Refugee) Convention – and he might choose to point that out rather than being the commentator on the efficacy or otherwise of their clothing.”

I spent several hours with the group of refugees in their well hidden Port Moresby hotel … and can confirm that their over riding concern wasn’t for fashion or clothing … but for the fate of the hundreds of their asylum seeker friends still facing an uncertain future at the hands of the Australian Government on Manus Island.

It did take several days … but on Sunday Foreign Minister Julie Bishop DID come out to contradict colleague Dutton and confirm that “people leaving Australia’s offshore detention centres for resettlement in the US were ‘genuine refugees’ (source – The Guardian). At least Bishop showed some integrity … too much to expect any of that from Dutton.

Images © Brian Cassey & The Daily Telegraph

Armani Refugees - Daily Telegraph - Manus Island refugees fly to the US - image by Brian Cassey

Armani Refugees - Daily Telegraph - Manus Island refugees fly to the US - image by Brian Cassey

Julie … “Disko Meri” … Found ! …

I mentioned in a post back in April – “Disko Meri Does It Again” – that I had been so far unable to let my Papua New Guinea bar girl subject Julie know about the success of her portrait in various photography events and awards around the planet over the last couple of years … Sydney (Head On Portrait Prize) and Cairns (QMMA Awards) Australia, New York City (Photoville 2015), Moscow (MIFA), Hyderabad India (Head On) and the ‘International Color Awards’ to name but a few.

I made the image at the Diamond Club in a not too salubrious part of Port Moresby. The club does not have a telephone or internet presence and it was impossible to contact her.

So … during a nights stopover in Port Moresby on my way to Manus Island a few weeks ago I dropped into the Diamond Club armed with a print and accompanied by PNG friends Margo and Raymond. At first it seemed that Julie would never know as we were told she no longer works at Diamonds. Fortunately someone found her brother in law who was in the club that eve and he offered to jump in a taxi (at our expense) and go and pick her up.

About an hour later a very bemused and rattled Julie arrived and was presented with a large print and told of her World wide fame. Julie explained that she was no longer working and was now a (single) mother of twins!

In the two years since I made the image Julie had changed from a confident up front bar girl into a quieter softer more lissome young mother of two baby boys. She said she was going to give the print to her mum …

Below is a pic © Raymond Nugent (Thanks Raymond) … of Julie in the Diamond Club with her print.

Disko Meri - Julie - Diamond Club - PNG - Print - Brian Cassey


“Disko Meri” Does It Again …

“Disko Meri” – an image I made of nightclub bar girl Julie in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – has been recognised yet again, taking out an “Honourable Mention” in the ‘Portrait’ category of the prestigious “9th International Color Awards”.

The planet wide annual photography awards bill themselves as “The World’s most watched photo show” and all winners were announced in a four and a half hour live streaming online event. Must admit I missed that bit …

“Disko Meri” has received quite a bit of attention over the past year or so … and previously was recognised in the ‘Head On Portrait Prize’, the ‘Moscow International Foto Awards’ (MIFA) and the ‘Queensland Multi Media Awards’.

Sadly … I have not been able to thank my subject Julie personally so far. The bar where she works in Port Moresby does not have either a phone number or internet presence. I intend on my next visit to Port Moresby to make it a priority to visit her again at the ‘Diamond Club’ to thank her and present her with a print … the very least I can do.

Below … and at the risk of boring you with it again … is the portrait of Julie – “Disko Meri”

Image © Brian Cassey

"DISKO MERI - PNG Bar Girl" - Honorable Mention 9th International Color Awards - Brian Cassey

Words ‘n’ Pics on Sex in PNG …

The illegality of female and male sex for sale and homosexuality in Papua New Guinea does not mean that these practises are not flourishing in our nearest neighbour … with the resulting growth of HIV/AIDS, sexual violence and rape.

To compile this story and images  – “Lives On The Line – The Risky Business of Selling Sex in PNG” – for Papua New Guinea’s Lily magazine (the first of hopefully more newspaper/magazine publications) – I spent some considerable time last year in ‘establishments’ in Port Moresby that most would politely describe as ‘questionable’ and/or ‘risky’ to say the least. However, most of those I spoke to in relation to their work selling sex did so with polite acceptance and frankness. Photographs were made that would not make their identity and involvement obvious to the authorities.

Amongst those providing me with remarkable insights were a self confessed middle aged lesbian pimp who has the health and well being of her teenage charges very much at heart, two teen girls (16 and 18) who cruise a well known Port Moresby ‘patch’, a ‘working girl’ (Pamuk Meri) who bases herself in an infamous ‘club’ and admits to half a dozen or so ‘clients’ a day … and a young gay man to whom payment for sex is just ‘normal’.

“Lives On The Line” is the third story that I have had published in Lily Magazine – a quality glossy women’s print mag that would well and truly hold it’s own on Australia’s news and magazine stands. (… and Many Thanks to Lily Managing Editor Margo Nugent for her hospitality and assistance!)

If you are interested in the full story and publishing “Lives On The Line” please send me an email at …

Below are pdf’s of the eight pages of the article in the mag …

Magazine © Lily 2015, images and words © Brian Cassey

Lily Magazine article on Sex in Papua New Guinea - words and images by Brian Cassey

Lily Magazine article on Sex in Papua New Guinea - words and images by Brian Cassey

QMMA’s ‘Best Image’ …

QMMA – Queensland Multi Media Awards

The QMMA’S are now in their nineteenth year … not an insignificant achievement. The catchment area for the awards is basically the entire state of Queensland – but minus Brisbane – and it attracts entrants from all regions and from a wide spectrum of media and advertising organisations and individuals.

Last Saturday eve at the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino Cairns this years presentations were made and I was fortunate to take home the ‘gong’ for “Best Photographic Image”. The pic “The Betel Nut Trader” (below) was made in Papua New Guinea late in 2013 as part of an essay on the ban in Port Moresby of the trade in the natural and traditionally chewed mild narcotic betel nut (buai). It was published by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Image © Brian Cassey



Back to PNG …

Just back from another ‘interesting’ week in Papua New Guinea where I worked on a couple of new stories. It’s never dull working in and with the people of PNG … and this trip was certainly no exception.

The ‘uncertainties’ that always surface when working in the country were intensified on this trip – and ‘tales’ will be told in the future I’m sure. Due to publishers request the exact story lines of the work cannot be divulged at this time (and I haven’t got far into the writing side of things as yet) … but below I’ve posted three images made during my time on the PNG visit last week … as a bit of a teaser.

All images © Brian Cassey 2014

20140610_PNG2   20140613_PNGJulie1   Ex Cairns Australia  pic by Brian Cassey Pic by Brian Cassey

Pecha Kucha? … What The Hell Is That … ?

“Pecha What ?”  That was the question I asked of ‘The Tanks Arts Centre’ curator Chris Stannard over a beer after the Degree South collective exhibition “PEACE” about a year ago.

Turns out that ‘Pecha Kucha’ – ‘the art of concise presentations’ – is a world wide phenomenon.

The idea is that you present and comment on twenty of your images in a slide show in front of a live audience … each slide changes automatically after twenty seconds. Quick bit of maths gives you a presentation time of six minutes and forty seconds. Apart from that there are no rules. Just entertain your audience with your pics and words.

Apparently the format was devised by a couple of architects in Tokyo in 2003 … and has now spread around the planet to over seven hundred and twenty cities in over a hundred countries. Now one of those 700 plus, Cairns showed it’s first Pecha Kucha at the wonderful ‘The Tanks’ venue in 2011. It has been steadily growing in popularity since.

Sounded a fair idea … so I lost my Pecha Kucha virginity last May with “The Dogs of Sai Kung” in Cairns volume #7.

Next Wednesday eve sees the first Tanks Cairns Pecha Kucha presentation for 2014 – Cairns volume #10 – and I am once again amongst the presenters – over a dozen for the night. I have selected images made in our closest neighbour Papua New Guinea and the subject is “The Impossible Ban on Betel Nut” selected from my “Betel Nut Ban in PNG” essay.

A Pecha Kucha evening is a great opportunity to network, catch up with friends, fellow artists and photographers, share a beer or three, promote your work and see the images of others – and The Tanks is a great venue.

Below is just one of the images from my presentation next Wednesday. The image shows betel nut (buai) traders with their produce at Eight Mile on the outskirts of Port Moresby following the ban on trade and sale. Come along from 6.30pm and see all the imaginative and creative work on show.

Image © Brian Cassey




Betel Ban on Web …

Have now added the pic essay “Betel Nut ban in PNG” to my personal web site at …

It is already in place on the web site of the photojournalist collective ‘fotostrada’ in “Latest Stories”at …

The essay was the result of a recent (self funded) visit to Papua New Guinea and it was published, along with the result of my dodgy written word skills, in the Sydney Morning Herald. You can see the story here … … and the online SMH pic gallery here … .

The story/pics is also due for publication this month in PNG magazine “Lily”.

Below is just one of the images from the essay … “City Rangers” scour the central business district of Port Moresby on the lookout for the now illegal betel nut.

image © Brian Cassey


Betel Ban – Words and Pics in SMH …

Making Images is one thing … but putting words together is a little more problematic.

So, I’m more than a little gratified that the Sydney Morning Herald has today published my 1000 word story “Chewing Over a Betel Ban” (and three pics) on page 8 of their News Review section. They are also running the story online and an accompanying pic gallery of seventeen images.

The story and images are the result of a recent (self funded) visit to Papua New Guinea to document the story of the just imposed ban on the sale and public use of the habitual carcinogenic betel nut – or ‘buai’ as it is called locally. The social implications of the ban and it’s effect on the betel nut trade that is a bread winner for a massive proportion of PNG residents will be immense.

The results of my journalistic torment can be found here in the SMH at … and the image gallery here at (update: unfortunately SMH have now – as at Oct 2015 – removed these.)

The complete essay of 27 images on the betel nut story can be found on my website at and on the web site of the  ‘fotostrada’ collective at

Below is a screen grab of the SMH story as published on the printed paper page.

Images/Words © Brian Cassey


PNG Ban Hard to Chew …

Have now posted a new pic essay made during a recent visit to Papua New Guinea to “Latest Stories” on the web site of our collective ‘fotostrada’. The essay is entitled “Betel Nut Ban Hard to Chew” and it documents in pics (and words) the curious situation following the contentious imposition of a ban by the city of Port Moresby on the sale or public use of the traditional, natural but carcinogenic stimulant betel nut – known locally as ‘buai’.  The city cites the expense of the constant clean up of the bright red betel nut spittle stains and husk refuse and a concern for citizens health as the reason for the ban. (Betel nut use has been linked to mouth and other cancers and the spread of tuberculosis).

However, the betel nut trade is lucrative and large – and an entire underclass of PNG residents derive their total income from ‘buai’ sales.  Tensions are running high with opponents of the ban predicting social unrest, an increase in crime and prostitution (and therefore AIDS) and a break down in law and order.

The images were made at local markets (at least at those still allowed to sell betel nut until a November 1st deadline), at sellers and users communities and homes – and in Port Moresby city centre where ‘Rangers’ now search the streets for elicit ‘buai’.

Am hoping for a publication of the images and a comprehensive story in the next week or so.

Below I’ve posted just two of the images from the set which can be viewed in it’s entirety here at

Images © Brian Cassey 2013



Papua New Guinea … Police Agro …

Just returned from five days in and around Port  Moresby, Papua New Guinea working on a coupla new stories (all will be revealed in due course).

All went well … even a dramatic and stressful encounter with two extremely agro man mountain police officers at Hohola market. They animatedly berated me – “Who gave you permission to take photos” and other rubbish – and then the largest grabbed my Nikon D3S and dragged it into his police ute. I didn’t let go and a war of words ensued while we had a tug-of-war! Despite heated threats of arrest and a ride to the police station I think I eventually wore them down and they decided it was too hard … and I got my camera back!

Currently wading through a large edit of the PNG images … but have posted just one new image below, made at Eight Mile on the outskirts of Port Moresby.

© Image Brian Cassey 2013