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Journey of discovery

06 Nov 2019

Journey of discovery Image

By Spencer Fowler Steen

Sally Thomas’ journey from outback jillaroo to award-winning photographer has taken her along dusty country roads.

It’s a journey that has led her to Southbank’s Photography Studies College (PSC) where she’s about to finish an advanced diploma of photography.

Now retired, Sally previously worked as a farmer, an aged-care nurse and in horticulture, but the common thread throughout her life has always been photography.

“I’ve always had a love of photography, but prior to this, it was mainly just taking travel photos – happy family snaps and that sort of stuff,” Sally said.

“I always wanted to do a course where I could be a bit more creative with my photography, and PSC had the images that stimulated me.”

A former silver award winner in both the Australian and Victorian divisions at the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) 2018, Sally also won two silvers in the Victorian AIPP and silver at the Australian AIPP this year.

She said she owed a lot of her success to the “brilliant” lecturers at PSC, where she’s been studying part-time for the past four years.

“They push you to a point where you’re forced to delve deeper into yourself,” she said.

“I can see my images from when I started to what I take now are completely different – my skillset has changed dramatically.”

From her beginnings in Blackburn where she grew up next to a national park, Sally has always loved photographing animals and landscape environments.

But her passion for the outdoors almost drove her to pursue a full-time job as a farmer.

“By the time I finished nursing, I would’ve gone to an agriculture college with much younger people – very ‘boys clubby’ – so I chose not to do that,” she said.

Sally said her previous experiences of travelling in countries such as Iran, the UK and recently China and Japan, had afforded her with incredible opportunities to capture both real and surreal images.

Her photos of a lantern-lit cormorant fisherman and of Hong Kong were taken on a trip to China organised by PSC this year.

Sally’s upcoming exhibition titled Fading Memories is an exploration of her childhood memories and the dichotomy between environmental and genetic influences over people.

Her photos, which blend old family pictures together to create a “modern effect,” will be part of a larger exhibition Fresh 19 showcasing photography by artists from her class.

Sally said she would most likely come back next year to complete part of the bachelor of photography at PSC to top off her arts major.

“After that, I want to set up a website,” she said.

“I don’t want to work for people, I just want to be able to work for myself and create images, so I’ll probably keep entering competitions, having web sales and possibly start doing some markets.”

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