Pictures are worth a thousand words

The written word is not the only artform that tells a story.

The Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words session gave Byron Writers Festival 2016 attendees the chance to hear from notable photojournalists Rio Helmi, Ben Bohane and photographer Anna Swain on their craft.

Photo: Rio Helmi
Photo: Rio Helmi

The trio each discussed their own favourite photographs from a slideshow that screened during the session.

One of Rio Helmi’s favourite images was a photograph of a flock of herons scavenging from a landfill site.

He explained the significance of the photograph because herons do not go to the rice fields anymore, instead choosing the landfill site.

‘It’s heron fast food,’ he joked.

Ben Bohane said he has a passion for covering the Pacific region, and said that he prefers to cover the ‘grey areas’ where the media chooses to ignore in favour of more ‘saleable’ regions such as Syria and Vietnam.

‘The Pacific Islands is one of the most underreported regions, and it’s in our backyard,’ he said.

Bohane specializes in reportage photography, which he explained is a style of photography which captures a moment with the intent of telling the story in a single image.

Photo: Ben Bohane
Photo: Ben Bohane

He said that reportage photography gives him ‘a passport to witness and experience history’.

Anna Swain has had a deep passion for the Burma/Myanmar region, which has been a prominent feature of her photography career.

One of her favourite photographs is one of a young Burmese monk, who is having his head shaved before heading off to join the monastery.

Photo: Anna Swain
Photo: Anna Swain

She said that she wasn’t sure why she loves that photograph, but she has a theory.

‘I think it’s something about his expression. It seems quite thoughtful and insightful,’ Swain said, before reconsidering.

‘Of course, he was probably just thinking about getting something to eat,’ she jokes.

The panellists had some advice for any budding photographers in the audience.

Bohane advised not to get ‘caught up’ with whether to photograph digitally or using film, but instead to do whatever you like.

‘It’s not a choice. You don’t have to do one or the other. You can do both,’ he said.

Helmi said that digital photography was great because he can easily put his photos into social media to engage with his audience.

He laughs because it means he can get instant feedback on his works.

Aside from that, Helmi advised photographer to relax and enjoy photography as it was, and not to worry about ‘posing’ or getting the ‘perfect shot’.

‘I’m not capturing the moment, I’m captivated by the moment.’

Report by Jacqueline Munro, a Bachelor of Media student at Southern Cross University. 

Southern Cross University Reporters