AUSSIE RULES | THE NEXT GENERATION OF AUSTRALIAN PHOTOGRAPHERS

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Listen, I don’t know what’s going on down there, I really don’t. I mean, it’s not like it’s something new—clearly not. After all, Australia is the land that bore and bred Rennie Ellis; country and countryside where the legendary Sam Haskins chose to live out his final days. Only two of many greats from Down Under, but those two, alone, are some pretty damn big shoes to fill. And sure enough, along comes this new group of Australian photographers—Oliver Bryce Yates, Joe Nigel Coleman, Jared Brown, Ryan Kenny and Luke Byrne, to name a few—who call home to Adelaide, Newcastle and Sidney. They’re all young, mid-twenties, on average, but all wise enough to know there is only one way to carry a torch, and that’s by forging your own path.

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— Image by © Jared Brown

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— Image by © Jared Brown

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Taken individually, there’s the wonder, lust, and wanderlust of Jared Brown’s imagery; the completely outrageous and utterly nonchalant cinematic compositions of Oliver Bryce Yates; and those freefalling and submerged carpe diem captures of Luke Byrne. There’s the incorrigible way Ryan Kenny constantly shifts from dreamy to delinquent in the blink of an eye, and, of course, Joe Nigel Coleman, whose lens surfs the wind with the joy of a hand out the car window.

There are crossroads, certainly, influences seen, felt, openly exchanged in their photography, but in attitude more than anything. That’s one page they’ve all taken from Ellis’s book, blurring the boundaries between portraiture, social documentary, fashion and fine art. Kindred spirits of that wonderfully perverse Aussie pragmatism, which follows: if a rose is a rose is a rose, then photography is photography is photography, like Fosters means beer. And of course their work has a common backdrop, residing between an endless ocean and endless desert, connected by the history of land and landscape—to sun, sand, wave—not to mention skin, bodies, tattoos, the most beautiful girls, and, of course, that greatest of all artistic love affairs, better known as light.

Another characteristic they share: their photography is unfussy and unpretentious. Really, the shutter moves as such a natural extension of self, you get the feeling that any one of these guys would be far more likely to leave the house without pants than a camera. And wherever their travels take them, day in, day out, they continue to quietly post their work on their various sites, for all to see, and all are welcome.

That’s what I really admire most about each of them, that they’re so easy-going and so hard-working, never taking themselves too seriously, but always taking their work quite seriously. Even the youngest of the group, Ryan Kenny, whose got talent to burn, and often does by all appearances, but it’s his hard work that just landed his first photo in Rolling Stone. And it’s that combination of self-determination and free-spiritedness that has international advertisers chasing them, and with which at least one of the group—not to name names, but Luke Byrne—has taken almost all his earnings in order to throw a big party for his friends, then he simply shot the fun. Nice work if you can get it, yes, indeed.

Personally, I love that they’re young, they’re having the time of their lives, and they don’t hide the fact—far from it. These images are drug-fueled, sun-streaked, bum-streaking, skateboarding, house-burning, broken-boned and light-bleeding, in no particular order. In other words, good times. Open roads. And life is for the living: so just shoot it.

Well, then. Whatever explains it, whatever it is that’s going on down there, all I can say is keep it up, keep on, and peace out, mates.

–Courtney Eldridge is a writer living in Los Angeles.

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— Image by © Oliver Bryce Yates

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— Image by © Oliver Bryce Yates

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— Image by © Luke Byrne

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— Image by © Luke Byrne

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— Image by © Luke Byrne

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— Image by © Ryan Kenny

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— Image by © Ryan Kenny

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— Image by © Joe Nigel Coleman

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— Image by © Joe Nigel Coleman

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Visit the artist’s sites here:

Jared Brown

Oliver Bryce Yates

Luke Byrne

Ryan Kenny

Joe Nigel Coleman

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