A year in the field: AG photographers on assignment in 2022

A year in the field: AG photographers on assignment in 2022


We send Australia’s most experienced photographers far and wide across our vast nation. These assignments involve months of planning, making contacts and following up leads, regrouping from dead-ends, sorting out permits, often through multiple state departments, and where possible, consultations with First Nations.

Our visual storytellers need to have the survival skills to safely navigate remote locations on their own, to be able to work and file on the hoof, to have the social and emotional intelligence to flesh out the different strands of the story, and make meaningful connections in the field in order to produce work with depth and uncover new angles.

Our photographers can pivot between documenting aerial, video, stills and audio to provide the comprehensive, often sensory, detail that our stories are renowned for. Dean Sewell spent weeks in his swag for us, working on one story that he began more a decade ago. Adam Ferguson travelled thousands of kilometres up the Dingo Fence to Cameron Corner, in the extreme far west corner of NSW, making friends with the people who live their lives along the legendary fence. Annette Ruzicka’s year flew by largely in the field, criss-crossing the country for AG, from WA’s Kimberley to the alpine ranges of Victoria and Southern NSW before heading back to the tropical Top End to observe crocs. James Bugg was given some loose map coordinates to hunt down the most pristine of alpine bogs and Matthew Newton was set loose on one of the toughest and most remote hikes in the country, Southwest NP, Tasmania.

We try to commission experts in their topic areas. Photojournalist Justin Gilligan has documented the ocean’s plastic pollution for years from his home on Lord Howe Island and already knew the key characters in our complex shearwater story. We regularly work with conservation-led photographer Doug Gimesy. A leading voice in the field of environmental photography, he offers an especially clear understanding of how imagery can shift mindsets. Other photographers, such as veteran photojournalist Melanie Faith Dove, were scrambled at a moment’s notice to cover this year’s huge weather events. Randy Larcombe and Emma Phillips were asked to document innovators who have made positive contributions to preserving our natural world.

To all these photographers and the many more we have sent into mines, storms, jungles and on epic treks, or have come to us with their research or passion projects, we thank you for your commitment to telling stories that make us care more for our world.

Wildlife photographer Isaac Wishart works barefoot when hunting bioluminescence and glowing fungi. He spent several nights for us in Queensland’s Lamington NP photographing the area’s nocturnal biodiversity. Lamington is one of the few remaining extensive areas of subtropical Gondwanan rainforest anywhere in the world, and this is Isaacs natural home after spending the last eight years as a bush regenerator in the region. Two years of abundant La Nina rains delivered fungi aplenty. Wishart’s image above show a Mycena chloophos fungus glowing green in the rainforest understorey.
In May, recently relocated NYC now Perth-based photographer Finlay Mackay visited drone cinematographer Jaimen Hudson (pictured flying his drone) who despite becoming a quadriplegic in 2008 is a prolific wildlife photographer in Esperance, WA.
On assignment for another story Thomas Wielecki, together with writer Tim the Yowie Man, spotted three little pups in the centre of Gundagai, NSW. The town is known for its iconic Dog on the Tuckerbox statue – located just outside the town on the freeway – but the new litter of puppies scattered across Gundagai was a surprise. According to some business owners, the dog was a little too popular with travellers on the Hume Highway with many stopping for an obligatory photo with the dog and not venturing into town. To solve the problem sculptor Darien Pullen was commissioned in 2021 to create three puppy statues to be placed outside businesses in the main street.
Photographer Randy Larcombe spent a day with AG Society’s Lifetime of Conservation Awardee, ecologist Dr John Wamsley, at his home in the Adelaide Hills. Here John is seen wielding a tool he uses to remove weeds and wears the cat-skin hat he controversially wore to the South Australian Tourism Awards in 1991. John has campaigned for half a century on behalf of the nation’s endangered species. Many of his ideas were vilified by those in government supposedly responsible for conservation but who failed to recognise the urgency of biodiversity decline.
Photographer Matthew Newton undertook the notoriously difficult South Coast Track in Tasmania with writer Elspeth Callendar (pictured) for a story on the privatisation of our wilderness areas. The 84km bush walk between Melaleuca and Cockle Creek is regarded as one of the world’s great ‘wilderness’ walks and requires everyone to carry a full pack of gear, including tent, food and cooking equipment for the duration. Inclement weather means some sections of the track are perpetually wet and muddy with challenging waterway crossings and arduous ascents par for the course. This might change soon now that the area has been earmarked for a string of luxury huts.
Photographer Annette Ruzicka visited the stunning wetlands of the south-western NSW conservation property Gayini, owned by the Nari Nari Tribal Council.
In February and then in March this year Lismore, northern NSW, experienced catastrophic flood events. Four people died and hundreds remain homeless. As a volunteer for Vets with Compassion Melanie Faith Dove was given access to relief centres and shelter to document and assist people with pets who had lost their homes.
Ngiyampaa/Murrawrri and Kooma photographer Melinda Hooper photographed her family for our Deadly Science book series.