Ballarat International Foto Biennale Review

Every two years, Ballarat hosts a wonderful photo exhibition. It is mostly free and hosted by friendly volunteers in cafes, pubs, and buildings across central Ballarat. Everything is within walking distance – giving visitors an excellent excuse to walk and explore what is a lovely regional city.

We managed to get a small posse together – Fotodudenz (check out his stuff here) , Ms Fotodudenz and Mrs MelbourneStreetPhotography. Together we headed off to Ballarat today in a rented Holden Statesman Caprice. The pimped out ride was selected to give the ladies some decent space to knit in the back seat for the 90 minute journey – and knit, elbows out they did, whilst I played at car karaoke in the driver’s seat…


The MSP Posse Statesman Arriving in Ballarat…


Images in my portfolio are about fleeting moments of beauty in streetscapes. The MSP article “Does Street Photography Matter?” helps outline the creative philosophy I tend to follow in creative pursuits. Following is a quick exceprt.  You can read the whole article here.

“A good street photograph makes something very ordinary… seem extraordinary”

Sophie Howarth & Stephen McLaren, Street Photography Now

The manner in which the photographer captures the instant can and should elevate it as something worth looking at, into something aesthetically pleasing. Street Photography is a way to show people how wonderful and, frankly, awesomely cool we all can be, just going about our everyday business.

“Street photography is not about capturing reality as it is : it is about …turning the mundane into the extraordinary.”

Marie Laigneau

Remember how fantastical a slice of an apple looks under a microscope? Taking a tiny portion of something that is so very ordinary, framing it, and looking at it objectively from a new perspective reveals a completely different view of the apple slice.

Street photography is the same. Take a tiny moment of time of people’s ordinary lives and prepare it like the microscope slide. Printing it out as a photograph changes the viewer’s experience of the moment to reveal so much more.

Attending overtly political art exhibitions can be very fatiguing – it often feels like someone is shouting at me… Let me be clear though – this has nothing to do at all with whether I agree with the artist’s point of view or not – I am just not in the mood for political discussions sometimes.

I would have liked to see more work from local Australian, and Victorian based photographers. And a downloadable PDF program – the printed one was free and fantastic, but I would have liked to have planned a bit more in advance using one, rather than clicking through the website constantly.

The absolute standout of the show was upstairs at Irish Murphy’s Pub – a completely unexpected delight in a nondescript location. Titled 2SQ.KM, the space was shared between two Melbourne photographers – Stuart Orford and Russell Williamson. Orford’s work was my pick for the Biennale (which Fotodudenz was aligned with!).

From the exhibition guide :

For the last five years, Melbourne has been named the world’s most liveable city by The Economist. 2 celebrates Victoria’s capital by capturing the people, architecture and streetscapes that make up two square kilometres in the CBD and the outer suburban fringe. From black and white film to digital colour prints, Melbourne’s diversity is showcased in this series, which also aims to promote dialogue around what really makes a city liveable.

About Artist

Stuart Orford is a published photographer who has a 40-year passion for traditional wet processes, producing hand printed streetscapes shot on medium format B&W film.

For 35 years, published writer and photographer Russell Williamson has been driven by a fascination with the world around him, and its people and places.

I was lucky enough to meet Stuart who was packing up when we arrived! I think Williamson’s images had already been removed. Stuart is a passionate film photographer – purchasing a Mamiya 6 (square medium format) for the project. His images captured tiny snippets of Melbourne’s heartland, in glorious black and white. I think they were mostly printed using wet process in the darkroom – I would have purchased a catalogue quite gladly, but he didn’t seem to have anything on sale.


Stuart Orford, City Bride, 2015.


Orford’s work was just plain great street photography – a mix of streetscapes and people going about their everyday business. I would love to share more of his work, but cannot really find anything online – Stuart, if you read this, I would love to feature more of your work!

Make sure you put the Biennale in your diary for 2019.

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