Wagga Wagga-based Coretext writer Nicole Baxter illustrated the rewards of extra thought and effort behind the camera when this photograph of research agronomist Dr Eric Armstrong recently won the people category in the Farm Writers’ Association of NSW photography awards.
All of Coretext’s writers have broadened their professional careers with training in press photography and most, like Nicole, revel in this added visual dimension to their story-telling.
Nicole actually took this photo for Brisbane-based colleague Rebecca Thyer who was profiling Dr Armstrong, one of Australia’s eminent research agronomists, on the eve of his retirement from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.
“I particularly enjoy the opportunity to take photos for colleagues’ stories because it enables me to devote considerably more creative energy to the image,” says Nicole.
“I’ve actually had this photo, or something like it, in my head for about a decade, so when I had the opportunity to photograph Eric, I asked him to gather up some Petri dishes and a broad range of pulse seeds to bring to the photo shoot.
“Over his career, Eric has worked hard to help expand the NSW pulse industry and I wanted to show that by the way I positioned him in the photo. I photographed him reaching to the right of the photo to suggest his forward thinking approach and to signify that his next step, even in retirement, would involve writing research papers and other reports about pulses to pass on the wealth of knowledge he has amassed to the next generation of research scientists and grain growers.
“I took the photo on my back, looking to the sky; capturing the image through a piece of perspex that I had custom cut. The photo took some organising, but both Eric and I had a lot of fun setting the shot up. We wanted to ensure it was properly lit, using fill-flash to pick up the detail in the seeds and to emphasise the blue of the sky. But I also wanted his face to reflect his passion, enthusiasm and energy, which is clearly on display whenever he is speaking about the rotational benefits that peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas can offer to Australian grain growers.”
Not to be outdone, former Coretext writer Sarah Clary won the landscape category in the same awards. Sarah’s skilfully composed photo of a sea of canola, using the lens focal range to turn a common scene into a constructed image, was published in the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation’s Soil Carbon Research booklet which she worked on while at Coretext.
Sarah is now based in Southern Queensland from where she still contributes to client publications produced by Coretext.