Exploring people and places through the lens of Cody O’Brien
Twenty-seven-year-old Cody O’Brien is “at the tail end” of studying for a bachelor’s degree in photography at Photography Studies College (PSC), and will soon celebrate the completion of three years at the institution.
Originally from Warrnambool, Cody moved to Melbourne three years ago to pursue study at PSC, which he described as being a “big learning curve”.
“Moving to Melbourne was an exciting, but also scary kind of period,” Cody said.
“Coming from a small, tight-knit community to the big, scary city – but it’s been a really good experience.”
While previously picking up photography as a hobby, taking “meaningless snapshots of the world”, Cody’s time at PSC has allowed him to pursue work with “a bit more intention”.
“I try and consider what it is that I’m photographing and why I want to photograph it and to build bodies of work that are cohesive and mean something.”
Skilled in both film and digital photography, Cody has recently become “more comfortable shooting with digital” through his studies, which has seen him short-listed for various awards through the Australian Photography Awards.
His passion for photojournalism and documentary-style photography has led him to explore themes based around “place and the people within the place”, using portraiture and landscape photography to convey his ideas.
Cody’s most recent project, titled Once More for the Sun, involved travelling four-and-a-half hours each way to photograph where his Dad grew up – a small, rural town with a population of around 200 people.
“My work tends to explore themes of identity and belonging, and the people and places that influence that,” Cody told Southbank News.
For his final year of study, Cody has focused on subject matter around Melbourne, as he has begun to establish a more settled lifestyle here in the city.
“It’s been really refreshing forcing myself to photograph around Melbourne,” Cody said.
“The project predominantly includes portraiture of my friends and the places around me that have come to feel like home – it’s kind of in response to the ever-evolving interpretation of home that we have, when we meet new people, or we find new places and they all of a sudden feel really homely.”
Cody will exhibit his final project alongside his PSC cohort in an exhibition, titled Solstice, at BrightSpace gallery in St Kilda, opening on December 1.
“It’s a really beautiful gallery space and we’re very lucky to be exhibiting there,” he said.
I think it’s going to really showcase the diversity and how much talent is in our cohort – it’s really impressive to see how different everyone’s style is and how refined everyone’s work has become throughout the course.
While still finalising which works he will present, Cody will be exhibiting a series of images exploring his chosen theme, as well as putting together a photobook that will hang from the ceiling of the gallery space.
Much like any student nearing the end of their university degree, Cody is yet to decide where photography will take him after graduation.
However, he says studying at PSC has opened doors in the photography industry that he “didn’t really ever think of being as jobs.”
“I figure if I keep trying things out, I’ll eventually figure out which ones I like,” Cody said.
Solstice will open from 6pm on December 1 and run at the BrightSpace gallery until December 10. •