An Exclusive Interview with Cameron Cope

Cameron Cope is an emerging photographic artist from Gippsland in Victoria (Australia) who works on travel and documentary projects. Cam spent much of his youth engaged in visual arts, but in his academic years explored history, film, environmental studies and Spanish language. Through extensive travel and academic exchange he developed a passion for history, indigenous culture and environmental issues. His early professional career was in environmental consultancy in Melbourne, though in 2009 Cam began developing a new way to express himself from behind the lens. His projects connect with different cultures, contribute to public debate and engineer platforms for people to tell their own stories.

Cam has had travel work published in Get Lost Magazine, Travel Talk and Backpacker Essentials, exhibited work in Melbourne and Sydney and has received recognition in multiple photography competitions. Photographs from his collaborative work with the Mullett family (of the Gunai/Kurnai Indigenous community of south-eastern Victoria) have been acquired by the Melbourne Museum for their permanent collection.

In this “Exclusive Interview” section, today we have the opportunity to talk with Cameron Cope, as his photograph was winner of Photo of the Month – 25th Month, 3nd Place. Let’s discover more about Cameron Cope, and his forays into photography in the following interview with him.

An Exclusive Interview with Cameron Cope

Light & Composition: Hello, Cameron Cope. How does it feel being selected as the winner of Photo of the Month, 3rd Place?

Cameron Cope: I guess I feel rewarded, photography is at times an incredibly isolated endeavour so it’s nice to have a community like L&C recognise your work.

L&C: Your photographs, “Billet”, was selected as Photo of the Month, is a beautiful travel photographs with artistic perspective, correct lighting, and very well presented. Overall, they are great composition! Tell us more about your experience of taking these two photographs.

Cameron: Thank you. Billet 500 is a place on the north coast of New Caledonia so named because the distinctive rocky feature there appears on the 500 franc note. I spent a night camped there in late 2009 and made this image with a long exposure with my camera mounted on a tripod. The image captures the moment after sunset just as the stars are starting to show but when there is still colour in the sky. This combined with the movement in the water, the hint of the distant coastline, the beauty of the beach, the cliff, trees and the warm human element make for a dynamic image I still enjoy looking at nearly three years later.

Billet 500, by Cameron Cope

Billet 500, by Cameron Cope

L&C: Besides this winning photograph, many people liked and voted for other photographs of yours in the Photo of the Month contest. You must be proud. How do you see your journey to the world of photography so far?

Cameron: Well I see photography as a vehicle to explore the world rather than a world of its own. Exploring from behind the lens has been a powerful way to connect with people I’d otherwise have no platform to meet through. It’s provided me with amazing experiences and I feel I’m the richer for it. Of course it’s a very difficult craft to make a living from so pursuing photography has come with many challenges. But I only ever seem to get more and more inspired and I’m looking forward to pursuing many future projects that I have in mind.

L&C: As we know, you are originally from Australia, which has its own rich diverse cultural and artistic heritage. Do you think depicting life in Australia portrays a different essence? How much does that influence your work?

Cameron: Australia is a unique and dynamic place, it’s ancient both culturally and physically. It’s cities are interesting but what really sets it apart is the unrivalled space, natural wealth and phenomenal Aboriginal heritage. It is a really relaxed easy-going place of great fairness and openness but also a conflicted place, searching for its identity. Musically, gastronomically and in dance Australia has no firm outline. European forms of land use are in many cases at odds with the natural environment and the shadow of colonial history hangs very heavy over society, to the point of being a taboo. Many of these things have contributed to my interests and have defined how I view myself and of course my lens on the world, so this of course comes out in my work.

L&C: We see so many different genres of photography in your portfolio. Do you like a particular genre of photography?
Cameron: Yes I have experimented with many different styles of photography. I’d say I’ve even gone through different phases influenced by different photographers over the past three years. I feel I’m still finding my own visual style in many respects but have found that I like to remain very project-oriented and so the style I go for will depend on the nature of the project I’m working on. Lately I’ve been experimenting with black and white documentary and colour street styles, but I have other ideas for future projects.

L&C: One of the keys to any style of photography is visualization. Please tell us how you started this process and what you did afterwards.
Cameron: It all depends on what I’m shooting but I tend to try and be as reactionary as possible. I’ve acquired a wealth of knowledge as to what kinds of things work in different scenarios but I still get the most joy out of capturing the unexpected. I aim never to simply reproduce images from a bank of set-ups in my mind. After taking a shot I’ll always feel a mixture of anxiousness and excitement. A touch of self doubt seems to push my standards up when I can keep it under control.

L&C: Cameron, have you ever exhibited your work? If so, then tell us about your first exhibiting experience.
Cameron: I have now exhibited two different projects. The first was a travel project titled ‘Mongolia: In the Footsteps of the Nomads’ which I put on in Melbourne and Sydney earlier this year (the photos of which are viewable on my website), however my most significant exhibition is a collaborative project titled ‘Boorun’s Canoe’ that is currently on display at the Melbourne Museum’s Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (see exhibition web page Photos of course have little value unless shared, so exhibiting them is the most rewarding thing that I’ve done to date as a photographer. With Boorun’s Canoe we were lucky enough to get great media coverage in all the major papers and on radio and had a phenomenal turn out at the opening with steady feedback ever since (including from a few unexpected big names such as David Attenborough!) Both of my exhibitions have been learning experiences in terms of navigating the complexities of financing, producing art prints, framing, hanging, sales and promotion etc.

L&C: Are you involved with any photography organizations? How does this help you in your photography?
Cameron: Having come into photography somewhat from obscurity I’ve so far not joined any formal associations or groups though I am considering several at the moment. Watch this space.
L&C: What advice would you give our readers who want to take part in the journey around the world with Photo of the Day?
Cameron: Shoot what you love and share it with the world.

L&C: Thank you, Cameron Cope, for sharing your feelings and experiences with us.

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