From an early age photography has given me a voice to express myself and to engage in the world. From the first moment I started photographing it became a compulsion: To put on my shoes and go exploring, to be in confronting situations, to document a story unfolding.
The camera is a key that opens doors, a way to meet people and to have purpose. Photography gives me the opportunity to talk about social issues that I care about, like the environment, globalisation and people's connection to spirituality.
It's a valued creative journey; an experiment to discover new ways of seeing, to connect with myself and the world around me.
What methods do you have for finding a connection or rhythm within the environments you are working within?
Each new series starts with an idea. For my latest series Heat I was thinking about the role the oceans and beach played in the age of climate change - a culture laid bare under an ever-hotter sun.
So, when photographing that body of work everything seemed to have meaning: the weather, the people and the oceans. I was there to explore those connections and visually express them.
When I am photographing, I am using minimal equipment so I can be agile, able to move and react to unfolding situations. All my work is un-staged, real people doing their own thing, so it is important not interfere in the scene where possible.
The best photos come when you are completely in tune with the people and environment you are photographing. It becomes like a dance where everything seems to be in harmony.
Water is so important in Australia – you observe the cultural and psychological aspects of water in abundance and also in its absence. When did you notice your interest in water as a subject and feel its potential for artistic exploration?
Water has always played an incredibly important role in my work as either a psychological space or a physical need.
My second book At Water's Edge looked at how water flows through people's spiritual, physical and daily lives around the world. I was drawn to water because of how it connects us to ourselves, to each other and to the environment.
I explored how (in a sense) we all live up or down stream from each other, and how we treat or use water and the environment effects this has oneveryone else.
There is also a primordial and sensual connection to water that is incredibly powerful to document. We see the human form interacting with nature, whether it is Voodoo rituals under waterfalls in Haiti or a baptism in ice waters of Russia.
In the series Heat I looked at how Australians have a cultural and spiritual reliance on the ocean. How people descend onto the beach and enter the ocean; into the vast quiet enormity of the sea.
For me it's an act of rejuvenation, connection and a type of secular baptism.
The second year I was working on Heat I was photographing people going into the water when I had an "ah ha" moment. I realised I really need to keep going and follow them under the water.
Getting under water housing for my camera allowed me to follow that story out into the surf and under thesurface. It was a pivotal moment that opened a whole new world and way of working.
The series evolved and, in the end, a large part was told from the perspective of the water.
What was involved in making and deciding on your SUN Editions collection?
There was a lot of collaboration with SUN Editions to come up with a strong cross-section of work that is representative of my series Heat. I chose each photo for its representation of a creative journey.
For example, the image Icebergs was the first successful image from the series. It was the photo that made me think this is going to work and that I can tell this story in a visually interesting and fresh way.
There are many in the collection which capture the essence of different themes going through the series. Like the underwater shot Breathe. It was the first image I made of someone resurfacing after plunging into the ocean.
The water gives swimmers an energy and sense of grace, as though they have been psychologically cleansed.
Is printed work still important to you in a digital era?
I think it is beautiful and powerful to see your work printed large on a wall. With most people viewing images digitally these days it is a real treat to see an actual print. You get to take in the detail of an image in a way you wouldn't on, say, Instagram.
Recently my underwater work was included in the show Water at GOMA in Queensland. It was amazing to see the work hung alongside other artists using different mediums to build this incredible show.
Curation and context is as important as the work itself, where one piece informs or builds on the next to create a powerful narrative. I am excited to see my work hung alongside so many talented photographers included in SUN Editions.
Paul Blackmore's collection is exclusively available through SUN Editions: own exclusive fine art prints by Australia's leading contemporary artists. A new curated online photography gallery by SUNSTUDIOS Australia.