Walala Tjapaltjarri in Australia

Mar 21, 2018

Simon Mears

How the Photo was Taken

Taken with a Nikon D7000, the only alterations I performed were cropping to give a wide-angle film feel to the photograph, and some light adjustments to the contrast and to the lightness of Walala’s face, which was cast in too much shadow given his cap and the high sun.

Photo Location

I went out into the Australian outback, near to the Old Ghan railway, to photograph Walala Tjapaltjarri, an internationally respected Aboriginal artist. This is my favourite shot of the shoot which lasted just over an hour before Walala wandered off looking for chewing tobacco, a small plant found growing by the dust tracks. Walala was born in the late 1960s or early 1970s. He was born at Marua, near Lake Mackay. He grew up living a nomadic, traditional way of life in the desert. His family had never come into contact with modern, Euro-Australian society. He had never seen a white person, and his family always thought the aeroplanes they saw flying overhead were ghosts or spirits.. Before Walala was born, his father Lanti had lived for a short time at the mission in Balgo. But he had run away after getting into trouble for stealing food. It was his decision to stay in the desert, and kept his family far away from the towns. Walala's mother was named Watjunka, and he was Watjunka's only child. He also had two other mothers, Papunya and Nanu, who were his father's secondary wives (and his mother's sisters). His father and Watjunka both died when he was young. The family finally came into contact with outsiders in October 1984, walking out of the desert seeking other tribes with whom their children could meet partners and have children of their own, and were settled at Kiwirrkurra. He and his family became known as the last Aborigines living a traditional nomadic way of life in Australia

About the Author

Simon Mears

I am an enthusiastic amateur photographer inspired by what i see and who i meet when i travel. I work as a Criminal Defence lawyer, and so i am limited in my time to travel but i have managed 42 countries. My interests have developed from a focus on the abandoned buildings of the former Eastern Germany and Berlin, and the wilderness of the city of Prypyat, nr Chernobyl, to environmental and cultural portraiture, and my current focus is on Cuba and Australia.

Website : www.state68photography.com

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