After spending the past year juggling her life on her farm north-west of Walgett in NSW and exhibiting her photography, artist Mardi RÃ©mond reflects back on the challenges of being an artist in a remote area and the inspiration that stems from capturing the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Have you always worked with photography?Â What drew you to the medium?
When our children were little I took â€˜happy snapsâ€™ as they were growing up.Â But, it wasnâ€™t until 2006 after my husband and I went on a trip to Vietnam, China and Tibet that I was more drawn to photography.Â I was really disappointed with some of the photos I had taken while we were travelling. So, in 2007, I enrolled in a photography course by correspondence to help me improve my skills. The further I progressed through the course and the more knowledge I gained, the more passionate I became about photography.
When and why did you begin with photography as an art form?
While I was completing the correspondence course our tutor continually challenged our creativity.Â This encouraged me to look at photography as an art form, and also at that time, a friend I was working with saw some of my work and asked me to bring it along to a market day she was organising.Â Despite not selling any of my work that day it made me think more seriously about my photography as an art form.
In much of your photography you capture the unique and iconic moments in the daily life of the farmer and the characters in and around the land.Â What draws you to continue capturing these images?
As farmers our lives are always evolving to some degree because of the interaction we have with our environment, our stock and the people around us.Â I love documenting this interaction and I am continually drawn to capturing such images because there is always something new to photograph or it is always a challenge to find a new way to photograph the familiar.
2011 Outback Archies winning photograph – ‘Phyllis’ Mardi Remond
You have won the photographic section of the Outback Archies for two years in a row with your portraits.Â How do you attribute the success in capturing these selected images in such a unique way?
Every photographer has their individual style.Â I suppose I can only attribute my success in the Outback Archies to my style of photography appealing to the judges on the day and my images fitting their interpretation of the theme of the competition.
How do you balance juggling your artistic process with the life of a farmer?
I have an understanding husband who encourages my photography, but at the end of the day, farming pays the bills and my photography is a hobby â€“ if, at times, a somewhat obsessive one!
What has been your favourite image you have captured so far in your career?
I donâ€™t have an all-time favourite image.Â Â It changes depending on what project Iâ€™m working on at the time.Â However, I do favour images that I think have a timeless quality and will be appreciated as much in the years to come as they are now.
What has been your most inspiring moment when capturing a moment?
I think that one of my most inspiring moments would have been when on a road trip through the Kimberley.Â My favourite lens, which I use on my DSLR camera, stopped working and I had to resort to using a small point and shoot camera.Â It was inspiring to realise I was still able to capture some great images regardless of the camera equipment I had available.
2012 Outback Archies winner – “A well earned break” by Mardi RÃ©mond
How does your life on the land influence your photography?
I am a passionate advocate of life on the land and I think as a photographer you are naturally influenced, one way or another, by the environment around you.Â I always try to have a camera with me wherever I go so that when â€œinspiringâ€ moments appear I can take advantage of the situation.Â Conversely, when times get tough with our life on the land I find photography a great way to escape the grind and recharge the batteries and refresh the mind.Â You can take a camera with you most places you go and for me this makes life interesting.
Photography gets a bit of a beating with the amateur saying that â€œanyone can take a photographâ€.Â Where do you think the line is between what makes a person â€œsnappingâ€ an image and a photographer who is an artist?
I once read that â€œPhotography is the talent to capture beauty in things that go unnoticedâ€.Â I guess a photographer who is an artist has the ability to â€œseeâ€ those things that go unnoticed by most and also takes the time to think about the elements that will influence the making of aÂ greatÂ image rather than just a good image and can then execute the process of recording all that successfully and in an appealing way.
What artist inspires you and why?
I am really inspired by the photographic works of an American photojournalist â€“ Steve McCurry, particularly his poignant portraits.Â He has an amazing ability to capture the heart and soul of his subjects and his images not only tell a powerful story, they also evoke many questions.