Making History with Stunning Images
Photographer Q & A
Describe the moment or event that inspired your decision to become a photographer.
As an Aussie kid, sport and playing outdoors was always a big part of growing up. I played tennis when I was 16 and wanted to win Wimbledon. Unfortunately I discovered I wasn't that good at actually playing the game. So I thought if I become a professional sports photographer I could get to centre court at Wimbledon. Luckily, my professional photography career took off at 18 years of age and it has taken me to The Olympic Games, the world's Formula One circuit, UK Premier League soccer, Presidents Cup Golf and multiple Davis Cup and Grand Slam Tennis Finals. When I was much older, I once had the opportunity to cover Wimbledon or a Formula 1 race...and I chose the latter.
What is your favorite photography tip to share with other photographers?
Treat everyone the same. From a president to a street kid. Because in photography, on any given day, you may just meet both.
Favorite photography book and why?
Zebrato by Michael Levin. I love his technical skills and simplicity.
Most unusual item you keep in your camera bag?
The keys to my Vespa.
What's the best advice you ever received from a fellow photographer?
Look at what everyone else is doing…and then do the opposite! I have never seen the best Photo of the Year taken by 10 different photographers all at once. You are never going to be the best or outstanding or win major photography awards if you do exactly the same thing as what everyone else is doing. Don't be afraid to take a risk with your work.
Name a geographical place that you'd love to return to or go to for an assignment.
I loved Barcelona and wished I had more time there. The soft, late afternoon European light is stunning - as are the people and the architecture. Magic. Norway has perhaps the cleanest light I have ever shot in…and I found China fascinating too. I also got to go to the very top of the highest sail of The Sydney Opera House, an area which is not accessible to the public. It was scarier than I thought it would be. It is 64 meters above the ground and there are no barriers to protect you. But it's the best view of Sydney and its harbour.
What photography project or assignment has been most meaningful for you and why?
I have recently landed a 3-year contract to be the Official Photographer for The Sydney Opera House's redevelopment program. Between 2011 and 2014, major renovations are being undertaken, the largest-ever changes to the site since it was first built. My role will be to record these changes for history. As a photographer, this is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime assignment. To document the historical changes of a building that has become a symbol for not only to the whole country of Australia, but to the rest of the world, is a huge honor.
If you could publish a book on any photographic subject, what would it be?
When I have spare time, I volunteer shoot for a charity organization in Australia called The Steve Waugh Foundation and that is something that is special to me. And I get a lot out of it. The Foundation assists children in Australia with very rare diseases. I find the kids and their families to be the true heroes of the world. Their character and spirit is inspiring.
What's in your camera bag right now?
- Nikon D3X's camera bodies
- Nikon lenses: 14-24mm, 28-105mm with macro, 85mm (f/1.8), 80-200mm
- A straight Nikkor 55mm lens (with macro extension)
- Nikon Speedlight SB-900 Flash
- 2 compact Kodak point & shoots
- 5 memory cards (CFC)
- Nikon remote
- Tape, pens, business cards, sunscreen
- Apple MacBook Air
- Oh, and I just found a pair of sunglasses which I lost a year ago
What do you love about your Lowepro bag(s)?
"I have used Lowepro products exclusively for many years. In the fast-paced world of international, high-end photography, you don't get second chances. Plus, camera equipment is expensive and needs to be protected. Not only do Lowepro products look great, they are easy to use, strong, tough and dependable. And they work in an incredibly diverse in a range of situations. But for the most part, I feel the products just 'work when you need them to work'. That's one thing you don't have to worry about when you're on assignment."
Have a look at Jack Atley's award-winning and wide-ranging work at his web site: www.jackatley.com
"I love my Lowepro CompuDaypack. I find it perfect for a wide range of assignments. It fits on planes and is strong enough to carry a wide range of cameras, lenses and accessories—plus my laptop. It's been around the world: in the room with U.S. presidents and Australian prime ministers; it's been on helicopters and planes; it's been to the beach; and in three feet of mud. So it's certainly paid its dues! And it's never complained once."
"Secrets to Award-Winning Photography"
His honors are many: the 2011 Moran Contemporary Open Section First Prize; Australian Press Photographer of the Year Award; Top 10 Finalist in The Sony World Photography Awards. Jack Atley's editorial and commercial work takes him around his native Australia and the world on assignments ranging from dignitary portraits (President George Bush, HRH Queen Elizabeth, Pope Benedict XVI) to blue-chip clients (BMW, Peugeot, Coca-Cola) to international image agencies (Getty Images, AP, Reuters). His latest and long-term assignment is as Official Photographer for The Sydney Opera House Trust as this architectural wonder undergoes a four-year renovation project.