Happenings in Perth, India … and the UK …

A lot of ‘goings on’ recently with exhibition openings in Perth, a rewarding ‘road trip’ in India, a bit of recognition from ‘Budapest’ … and an image on the walls at the Royal Photographic Society in England.

Travelled to Perth (and Fremantle) last month for two exhibition openings at two events … the ‘Fremantle International Portrait Prize’ (FIPP) one week and the ‘IRIS Portrait Awards’ at the Perth Centre for Photography the next.

Satisfyingly, both included personal works  … ‘Tomotaro on the Block’ and ‘Generations- Aurukun’ in the ‘FIPP’ … and just ‘Generations – Aurukun’ in the ‘IRIS’. Both great opening eves … first time for me in the ‘IRIS’ collection, but third time in the mix for the ‘FIPP’. Nice also to have a good opportunity to spend a little time in the West and catch up with photographer colleagues Richard Wainwright, Roger Garwood, Johannes Reinhart, Peter Ramshaw and Justin Ma… and also sparkling Nikon rep Julie Kimpton.

From Perth it was four flights to Mumbai (including a quick overnight stopover in Little India Singapore) where I met up with friend and former photo editor at the Indian Express, director of Solaris Images … and all round good bloke Srienivas Akella. ‘Srini’ had organised flights for the two of us to Raipur in the state of Chhattisgarh where I had identified one story in particular that I was keen to work on.

Srini has extensive knowledge of his home country and had also searched out a few other possible pic stories to fill any ‘blanks’ in covering my main objective. As it turned out we managed three stories over six days … my main story (which stretched over three days and involved twenty four hours of driving through Chhattisgarh – all will be revealed when the story and pics are placed and published) … pics of two (apparently of five) of the surviving full body tattooed ‘Ramnami’ – a low caste sect that once endured having the name of their god Rama etched over their entire bodies … and a continuation of my earlier ‘Typewriter Wallahs’ pic essay (this time in the city of Raipur) on the men (and woman) of India who persist in working with (and repairing) ancient manual typewriters.

The weeks work culminated back in Mumbai on a big Diwali celebration night of fireworks, colour and food with Srini, his family and his very pleasant community. Thanks Srini !

Also received great news … an email from ‘Portrait Salon’ stating … “Dear Brian, We are delighted to tell you that our judge, Peter Dench, has selected the attached image (‘Tomotaro on the Block’ … yeah that one again) to be included in this year’s Portrait Salon selection. This year, ‘Portrait Salon’ will be exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society in Bristol, from 21 – 28 November. It will then travel up to Harrogate to be part of the Photo North Festival, from 30 November – 2 December. The images will be presented both as a slideshow, and in print.”

Of course … I am stoked …

UK based ‘Portrait Salon’ is a sort of a ‘Salon des Refusés’ and solicits work that doesn’t make the winners cut of the monumental National Portrait Gallery (London) ‘Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize’ each year. Now in it’s 9th annual edition ‘Portrait Salon’ arguably shows more interesting work than the ‘Taylor Wessing’.

‘Tomotaro’ certainly has been good for me … as well as the ‘Portrait Salon’ and ‘FIPP’ mentioned above, it has also been recognised in the Tokyo International Foto Awards (TIFA), the Moscow International Foto Awards (MIFA), The Australian Photography Awards (APA) and the 12th International Color Awards.

Not far behind, ‘Generations – Aurukun’ has featured in the ‘IRIS’ and ‘FIPP’ mentioned and also the 2019 Portrait of Humanity and The Australian Photography Awards (APA).

Also at the end of October both of these images were announced ‘Winners’ in their respective categories (Editorial Sports and People) in the inaugural 2019 Budapest International Foto Awards (BIFA). Nice news to arrive home in Cairns to …

Images below © Brian Cassey … as follows from top … ‘Ramnami’ Maherttar Ram Tandon at his home in Churella Village, Chhattisgarh, India. Maherttar is covered all over his body with tattoos repeating the name of his God Rama … D. N. Verma amongst old manual typewriters that he is repairing at his Chhattisgarh Typewriter Works company in Raipur … my ‘Generations – Aurukun’ work at the ‘IRIS Awards‘, Perth Centre for Photography … ‘Tomotaro on the Block’ on the wall of the ‘Fremantle International Portrait Prize’, Moore’s Gallery, Fremantle (the same pic as selected for the ‘Portrait Salon’ in the UK’) … ‘Generations – Aurukun’ at the ‘Fremantle International Portrait Prize’, Moore’s Gallery, Fremantle.


'Ramnami' from Chhattisgarh, India - image © by Brian Cassey

D. N. Verma - typewriter technician and owner of Chhattisgarh Typewriter Works in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India - image © Brian Cassey

Image 'Generations - Aurukun' - finalist IRIS Awards, Perth Centre for Photography - © by Brian Cassey

'Tomotaro on the Block' 0 Fremantle International Portrait Prize (FIPP) - Finalist © Brian Cassey

'Generations - Aurukun' - Fremantle International Portrait Prize (FIPP) - Finalist © Brian Cassey


BBC 5 Live & “A Photographer’s Life – Part One” …

Prior to the last weekends launch of my exhibition “A Photographer’s Life – Part One” at the 2017 Head On Photo Festival in Sydney, I was interviewed by my old mate BBC Australia correspondent Phil Mercer.

The BBC 5 Live interview, hosted by Phil and Rhod Sharp, became a rather lengthy affair and touched on my photographic work over the decades, Head On Photo Festival and my featured “A Photographer’s Life – Part One” exhibition in Sydney, various aspects of photography and photojournalism … and my life in the UK and Australia. It runs for near 22 minutes.


Dubai, London and Budapest …

One of the absolute truths of being a working photographer is that you always appear to be … well … ‘working’. We don’t even qualify for a ‘busman’s holiday’ … definition … “a holiday where you do something similar to your usual work instead of having a rest from it”. It’s the ‘holiday’ part of the definition that doesn’t happen.

The fact of travelling is that the camera is always slung over your shoulder … and if it isn’t on your shoulder you WILL eventually regret it.

I’ve just returned from nearly a months travel to Dubai, the UK and Hungary where a camera rarely left my grasp … and where my time was also spent productively visiting photography work in galleries or meeting editors, printers or others involved in the industry.

In Dubai I worked on some ground work and initial photography for a new World class environmental venture to be opened later this year (my reason for travelling to the UAE … but more on that down the track). I also found a little time to make two contrasting images of daily life in the principality. Away from the glitz and opulence of downtime Dubai I spent early mornings among the thousands of wharfies and sailors who worked on the traditional wooden dhow trading boats that ply their goods around the Arabian Sea from their base at Dubai Creek. Near all were ‘foreigners’ from Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere. My fav pic was the portrait I made of old Hossain in front of the most beautiful weathered rosewood dhow hull. (top below).

In contrast was the image (also below) I made in a segregated ‘male only’ carriage on the Dubai Metro … one of just a handful of railway systems in the World that operate segregated carriages for women to address sexual harassment and unwanted contact .

London is proudly my heritage … and I spent some time fruitlessly digging around for reminders of the London of old. These two pics (3 and 4 below) came closest to the required nostalgia levels. Wandsworth Common on a cold foggy morn with the young football players from Broomwood FC brought back memories of my own youthful footballing days. The portrait subject is Lewisham street trader Alan Hogg. Born in Lewisham Hospital (as was I) Alan is the quintessential south east Londoner of old. He runs ‘Pitch 45’ at Lewisham High Street market selling, according to his licence, ‘fruit and vegetables or flowers or xmas novelties’. Lewisham has now long been a diverse multicultural society and cloth capped characters of Alan’s ilk have almost disappeared. Pure nostalgia …

The last image is deliberately different … a quirky image from Budapest Hungary … a city now best known for it’s beautiful city architecture. However, metres below the World Heritage Castle district on the Buda side of the city there exists a cold war nuclear bunker … complete with gas masks and ‘occupants’!

Ain’t travel … and work … grand !

All Images © Brian Cassey – from top – Dubai UAE x 2, London England x 2, Budapest Hungary

Dubai, UAE - portrait of Hossain at the Dubai Creek wharf - by Brian Cassey

Dubai Metro - crowded male Metro carriage segregated by sex (female carriage half empty) -image by Brian Cassey

Football on a foggy day at Wandsworth Common, London - image by Brian Cassey

P{portrait of market stall holder Alan Hogg at Lewisham Market, London - image by Brian Cassey

Pic from the Cold War nuclear bunker in Budapest, Hungary - Image by Brian Cassey

More Trip Pics …

Still trying to find the time to edit all the images from the just completed trip to the UK, France, China and Japan. (See previous post below).

Came across these two when doing a further cursory edit yesterday.

The top image was made at the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Tokyo Japan.  A Buddhist devotee is praying amidst the incense smoke – worshippers believe that immersing oneself in the smoke purifies, heals and brings good luck. The temple complex dates back to 645AD.

The second image was made at the village of Beizhai about an hours drive from Beijing China. An itinerant worker rests from the carting of all his possessions.

Images © Brian Cassey 2014



Travel … UK, France, China, Japan …

Just returned from a five week trip to the UK, France, China and Japan. Ostensibly it was for recuperation and a respite from taking pics (with the bonus of a UK Christmas).

However, as a freelance, the reality is that far too many pic opportunities regularly rear their heads whilst travelling … and I always found myself lugging at least one camera (Nikon Df, Fuji XE-1, Fuji X100), sometimes more (in addition to the obvious iPhone for the odd Instagram). There is a persistent deep seated optimism that images made on a trip may make the odd dollar/quid somewhere down the track!

Occasionally hefting the kit paid dividends … (although how I failed to leave at least one camera or lens in any of bar, bistro, boulangerie, museum, gallery, palace, temple, hotel, hutong, noodle or teppanyaki restaurant is beyond me … )

Below I’ve posted just a few of my favourite images from the past weeks overseas.

Unfortunately, I left Japan on the day the big January Grand Sumo Tournament commenced at the National Sumo Hall in Ryogoku Tokyo, so I decided to get up very early the previous day and attempt to catch Sumo in last minute training at their ‘Beya’ or Sumo ‘stables’. The stables were very difficult to find … and when found even more difficult to gain access. (I now understand the Japanese ‘sign’ for ‘NO’!)

However, persistence paid off … and I made the top image below through a small glass window of Sumo going through their final training session.

What must be the most bizarre rail journey on the planet was the subject of the second image.
The weirdly named ‘Shanghai Pedestrian Transit Tunnel’ runs from the beautiful Bund under the Huangpu River to the new Pudong skyscraper district of Shanghai China. It isn’t a ‘pedestrian’ tunnel at all … passengers are transported under the river in little carriages and assaulted with a trippy light and sound show during the four minute journey. Money … and not just a few dollars … well spent! (in contrast the ferry across the river costs less than 35 cents!).

The image gives some sense of the insanity of the journey.

In the third image … there is no place better to read a book on a sunny but bloody cold winters day than on the pavement of the Avenue Victoria on the west bank of the Seine in Paris !

Images © Brian Cassey


Shanghai Pedestrian Tunnel