AUSSIE RULES | THE NEXT GENERATION OF AUSTRALIAN PHOTOGRAPHERS

Listen, I don’t know what’s going on down there, I really don’t. I mean, it’s not like it’s something new—clearly not. After all, Australia is the land that bore and bred Rennie Ellis; country and countryside where the legendary Sam Haskins chose to live out his final days. Only two of many greats from Down Under, but those two, alone, are some pretty damn big shoes to fill. And sure enough, along comes this new group of Australian photographers—Oliver Bryce Yates, Joe Nigel Coleman, Jared Brown, Ryan Kenny and Luke Byrne, to name a few—who call home to Adelaide, Newcastle and Sydney. They’re all young, mid-twenties, on average, but all wise enough to know there is only one way to carry a torch, and that’s by forging your own path.

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— Image by © Jared Brown

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— Image by © Jared Brown

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Taken individually, there’s the wonder, lust, and wanderlust of Jared Brown’s imagery; the completely outrageous and utterly nonchalant cinematic compositions of Oliver Bryce Yates; and those freefalling and submerged carpe diem captures of Luke Byrne. There’s the incorrigible way Ryan Kenny constantly shifts from dreamy to delinquent in the blink of an eye, and, of course, Joe Nigel Coleman, whose lens surfs the wind with the joy of a hand out the car window.

There are crossroads, certainly, influences seen, felt, openly exchanged in their photography, but in attitude more than anything. That’s one page they’ve all taken from Ellis’s book, blurring the boundaries between portraiture, social documentary, fashion and fine art. Kindred spirits of that wonderfully perverse Aussie pragmatism, which follows: if a rose is a rose is a rose, then photography is photography is photography, like Fosters means beer. And of course their work has a common backdrop, residing between an endless ocean and endless desert, connected by the history of land and landscape—to sun, sand, wave—not to mention skin, bodies, tattoos, the most beautiful girls, and, of course, that greatest of all artistic love affairs, better known as light.

Another characteristic they share: their photography is unfussy and unpretentious. Really, the shutter moves as such a natural extension of self, you get the feeling that any one of these guys would be far more likely to leave the house without pants than a camera. And wherever their travels take them, day in, day out, they continue to quietly post their work on their various sites, for all to see, and all are welcome.

That’s what I really admire most about each of them, that they’re so easy-going and so hard-working, never taking themselves too seriously, but always taking their work quite seriously. Even the youngest of the group, Ryan Kenny, whose got talent to burn, and often does by all appearances, but it’s his hard work that just landed his first photo in Rolling Stone. And it’s that combination of self-determination and free-spiritedness that has international advertisers chasing them, and with which at least one of the group—not to name names, but Luke Byrne—has taken almost all his earnings in order to throw a big party for his friends, then he simply shot the fun. Nice work if you can get it, yes, indeed.

Personally, I love that they’re young, they’re having the time of their lives, and they don’t hide the fact—far from it. These images are drug-fueled, sun-streaked, bum-streaking, skateboarding, house-burning, broken-boned and light-bleeding, in no particular order. In other words, good times. Open roads. And life is for the living: so just shoot it.

Well, then. Whatever explains it, whatever it is that’s going on down there, all I can say is keep it up, keep on, and peace out, mates.

–Courtney Eldridge is a writer living in Los Angeles.

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— Image by © Oliver Bryce Yates

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— Image by © Oliver Bryce Yates

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— Image by © Luke Byrne

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— Image by © Luke Byrne

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— Image by © Luke Byrne

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— Image by © Ryan Kenny

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— Image by © Ryan Kenny

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— Image by © Joe Nigel Coleman

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— Image by © Joe Nigel Coleman

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Visit the artist’s sites here:

Jared Brown

Oliver Bryce Yates

Luke Byrne

Ryan Kenny

Joe Nigel Coleman

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17 thoughts on “AUSSIE RULES | THE NEXT GENERATION OF AUSTRALIAN PHOTOGRAPHERS

  1. Sorry. Not sold. And I usually admire your choices. Here I don’t see (at least in what you’ve chosen to display) anything that rises above an above average flickr site.

    I see soft focus, poor framing, stilted choice of subjects, bad exposure, lack of drama, failure to close with the subject, and in general nothing that is particularly distinctive or memorable.

    I’ll click through to the sites and see if it is just the selection, but I have to put the hype here down to a rare miss by Selvedge Yard.

  2. i think maybe just a poor choice of shots there…seems like all subjects bar one have their back to the camera or their face covered…..and that shot of the deus bike….is that in there for a joke?….when Carby takes such beautiful shots of the bikes at deus i just cant see it with that one….

  3. Sorry but I have to agree with these other comments. As an Aussie and a fan of many great Australian photographers I can’t really see much merit in this bunch. It’s standard fair on a thousand photo-blogs and lacks distinction, style or vision.

    As an aside, I love The Selvedge Yard, its a great blog and this is a very rare dud post

  4. First, thank you, everyone. All right, so we disagree, completely, those of you who feel this post is off the TSY mark. (And truth be told, I got a bit flustered, waking to these responses, started my day off with a, FUCK. These guys are so fucking good, people!) But still, thank you for speaking up and speaking up respectfully, that’s always appreciated.

    Besides, this doesn’t change my mind at all, because these guys are excellent, and if you do have a chance to check out out their various sites, Tumblrs, Flickr pages, the work speaks for itself–Luke Byrne just hit 2,000,000 views on Flickr, and for good reason. And for what it’s worth, Bill Henson’s another Aussie fave, and last year he honored R. Kenny with one of several awards Ryan’s already received, all of 19 years old now.

    What really matters is that there’s so much talent, so much amazing work being produced down there–across the board, one medium inspiring another, and the effect that’s having on the rest of us. Me, I can’t wait to what any one of these guys will do, see, capture, when they have a chance to hit the road in the US, hopefully in some collaborations with TSY.

    Last, we pulled a good 50 images, total, and more will run on TSY’s Tumblr in the next few days. Maybe then a few will see things differently. Hardly necessary, but worth a try.

    Again, thank you to all who took the time to weigh in–please, don’t stop just because we disagree and I swear like a sailor early in the morning. On the contrary.

    Courtney Eldridge

    • “Besides, this doesn’t change my mind at all, because these guys are excellent, and if you do have a chance to check out out their various sites, Tumblrs, Flickr pages, the work speaks for itself–Luke Byrne just hit 2,000,000 views on Flickr, and for good reason. ”

      Sorry but I find that’s just the standard “50 million Frenchmen CAN’T be wrong” argument. Sheer popularity does not overcome the very obvious lack of vision, missing the moment, and technical sloppiness of this group. And please do not say the sloppiness is “intended.” That just weakens their work all the more.

  5. don’t really know what makes these photographers so special/why it’s important to note that they’re from Aus, other than to stick with a theme. Looks like 90% of the work being produced by mid 20s (or younger) American photographers, and international as well. It’s not bad stuff but I’m not blown away.

  6. I do really like some of these, except “The bogan in a rapeseed field”. Such an uncool Aussie look.

  7. I responded to these images as a photographer, I’m not young or cutting edge but I know what moves me……Trent Parke has been mentioned, I agree he is very good. I’m a big fan of Bill Henson too, such soulful imagery.

  8. Wow, there’s two things I realized just now. One, the Selvedge Yard continues to be really cool and interesting, exposing me to stuff I’d otherwise not heard of. Two, that’s apparently a double edged sword, there’s lot’s of unappreciative people out there. Up and coming means developing talent, I think that’s what we have here. Just because someone doesn’t compare to one of the greatest Aussie photogs yet, doesn’t mean some of you people have to be rude and ignorant. You don’t walk into a gallery and shout at the top of your lungs that the art sucks just because it’s not like somebody else. Nobody has the right to be rude when it’s not called for. Stop being snobs and grow yourself some manners.

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