SUN Celebrates: Tajette O'Halloran


SUN Celebrates: Her is an eclectic showcase of women working in photography today, and another step toward equal recognition. Exhibitor Tajette O'Halloran's distinctive and cinematic scenes from Australian life add weight and significance to everyday moments.

Her work has featured in The New York Times (USA), Fine Line Magazine (France), The Modern & Contemporary Art (France), IGNANT (Germany), C41 Magazine (Italy). As well as being selected as a finalist in the Doug Moran Portrait prize, Tajette was awarded Honourable Mention for the William & Winifred Bowness Photography Prize (2016), selected as the Blow Up portrait category winner (2014) for her image 'gracie' and selected as the winner of the Monster Children annual photography award (2012).

We caught up with her in the lead up to the launch of SUN Celebrates: Her on September 5 at SUNSTUDIOS Melbourne.

Was the cross over from moving to still image a smooth and decisive one
for you?

It was a gradual process that began when I was required to buy a still camera for my job as a location scout. At the time I was dabbling in different documentary film projects and making music videos for friends. I feel like me working in film (video) was me "almost" finding my thing.

Shooting stills felt more immediate and personal and it gradually became my most dominant tool. Photography felt like coming home.

Image by Tajette O'Halloran

What is it that you personally get out of photography?

Gosh, so much. Such a simple question feels so complex. Photography has become an enormous part of my identity. In all its beauty, heaviness, intricacy, freedom, abstractness, realness and romance.

Photography is constantly revealing who we all are in this big mad world.

Creating images is a way for me to enrich, understand and create my own existence and it feels so personal and ingrained in who I am. Even though there are about a gazillion photographers out there, it still feels like my own little thing that I carry around with me constantly soothing those nostalgic yearnings. Photography is inexhaustible which is such a freeing feeling and I'm constantly checking in with myself to make sure I'm not putting nonexistent limitations on myself and my work.

Is there a key ingredient that you require to make a frame satisfying or of interest to you?

There are obviously so many technical elements that come together that make a photo work, however I would say that authenticity and mystery are two ingredients that are pretty important in whether I connect to an image or not. Authenticity is so powerful but can be a slippery fish. I just heard Dr Judith Crispin speak at the Maggie Diaz Prize opening night and she spoke about the crucial element of honesty in a photo and how without it the viewer just doesn't care. It's so simple but so true.

Image by Tajette O'Halloran

There is a lot of trust in your images. Is that tough to achieve?

I think it all comes down to me and whether I trust myself and my own vision for the shot. It's a process but I'm slowly getting more comfortable in explaining and asking for what I want, which I can only imagine make my subjects more at ease and trusting of me and my ideas.

I also feel gaining trust from my subjects is getting easier with the more work that I create. Once you have a body of work under your arm you have something tangible to present and I'm glad I'm over that initial hump with my In Australia series. It was a tough one to get off the ground because it's the first time I took myself out of the frame and began sourcing varied characters to be in the work. It was daunting as I didn't know how to direct people to produce this content and I was fearful. I got a huge surge of motivation and courage after my daughter was born which was what instigated In Australia and as I've plugged along it's all starting to make more sense to me so I'm able to articulate what I want from my subjects, convince people to be a part of my work and find the people who understand what I am trying to achieve.

SUN Celebrates: Her, launching September 5 and continuing until September 27 at Skylight Gallery, Melbourne.

Image by Tajette O'Halloran