In Words. Bewley Shaylor on a love for light and composition.  

2 February

Awarded local lensman Bewley George Shaylor III is FORM’s chief photographer. A veteran of three solo exhibitions and participant in several group and solo shows, Bewley combines a love of photographing people within their environment with a passion for light and composition.  He has had images published in several books and directed and shot a short film which screened internationally. His recent work for FORM has featured in Goods Shed exhibitions Worn Land and The Core as well as an upcoming major show with acclaimed Dutch cloud -artist Berndnaut Smilde presenting photographic works from across Western Australia.

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Bewley Shaylor with his dog Spec during PUBLIC 2015. Photograph by Luke Shirlaw.

 

I took to photography when I was around seven years old. My Mum bought me my first plastic toy camera called a Diana and I would roam the streets taking black and white photos of my friends and neighbours with the intent of selling back to them a beautiful but somewhat fuzzy photograph of themselves – and at a bargain price too. In high school I took up filmmaking and with my trusty super eight camera in hand, filmed, directed and edited my own movies which once again starred family, friends and neighbours. We even won an award at the FTI’s Young Filmmakers Award for my first cinematic masterpiece, an epic western filmed on location at Pioneer World in Armadale for its wild saloon fight scene authenticity, and at the WA Railway Museum for its authentic train robbery scenes. No expense was spared on costumes and props and, with the budget blowing out at $20, “Just Another Western” was born.

In my first year in business as a self-employed commercial and editorial photographer I made a total profit of around $500 and was seriously considering giving it all away until my brother–in-law, who had started working at an advertising agency, gave me my first real break and from there on the doors began opening. You name it I was shooting it in the late 90’s. I worked out of my home, converting the outside laundry into my darkroom. I got my first big break into the editorial side of photography when I started working for Express Publications who were a Sydney based magazine publication company.

Up until 2003 I held the mantle as king of the craft photographers here in Perth.

By 2004 I was starting to look for new ways of inspiring my photography and started working with a not for profit organization called FORM which opened up a whole new world for me as a photographer. The inspiration came from Lynda Dorrington herself and the wonderful people who worked for her at FORM when they put their trust in me and sent me on a fantastic project in Adelaide, Canberra and Dunedin New Zealand called “Vast Terrain”. That project confirmed what I wanted to do with my photography.

 

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Bewley Shaylor with videographer Chad Peacock during PUBLIC 2016.

 

When FORM took on the job to make Port Hedland a creative hub in the Pilbara I got to join them on that journey and from then until today I have had the pleasure of being one of their photographers for projects in Port Hedland and the Pilbara.

My first time in the Pilbara was one of those ‘Oh my god’ moments. I remember walking off the plane and the heat hitting me smack between the eyes. For me, being in the Pilbara was like having an epiphany… although I might have arrived in another mining town it was like stepping into another world.

The people there were so welcoming and appreciative of you being there, especially the ones we came to help learn more about their photography. I had come along with Paul Parin and John Elliot for the inaugural photography workshop. For me the sense of achievement came from not only being able to impart the knowledge I had gained from working in the industry, but to be with people who were like-minded and enthusiastic to learn everything they could. Every time I come back to Port Hedland to cover a function or an event for FORM I feel like I’m coming home.

Karijini is naturally stunning and unlike anywhere else I had ever visited. A landscape photographer’s paradise. It offers so much more for photographers who want to look deeper. I know for me in my post- production work on images I have taken there, I choose to make the skies darker and foreboding and the colours more rich and deep- like the gorges themselves- to try and give that feeling of falling into them. Like going to the edge and being free to leap into the abyss but knowing if you do that you’re never coming back from it.  I wanted to get across that sense of Karijini feeling like a place of doom and darkness, especially when you’re standing at the edge of somewhere like Oxer Lookout in Weano Gorge with an 800m drop below you.

I’m not a gearophile when it comes to equipment or cameras. I believe the best camera you have is the one you have on you at the time, whether it is your phone, a little compact or a DSLR, it doesn’t matter what you use to make the image with just as long as you make it.

People might be surprised to know that I suffer from major depression. Maybe it’s because I tend to laugh and joke around a lot and when I tell people they are usually surprised. I don’t try and hide it and I know for me that it’s just a chemical imbalance in my brain that is the cause of it and that taking medication for it is no different than someone having to take medication for diabetes or a heart condition.

I believe that photography has been a wonderful form of therapy for me and as an art form it has been my saving grace. Like any kind of therapy once you find out what makes you happy then you should follow it with a passion.

When I retire from commercial photography I plan to set up my own darkroom once again and make my own cameras and lenses. After all, I never threw anything out including my enlargers so it’s all there just waiting for me to fire them up and start up the enthusiasm again. After all that’s how I first established my love for photography.

 

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