• Tony Bosworth

The girl with the camera, an eye for beauty, and a taste for adventure

For as long as she can remember, Erin Meally has carried a camera wherever she’s gone and with it in hand she’s not only photographed our very own rural backyard, but also travelled the world to bring us some truly amazing images.

“Looking back now I realise that I never really went anywhere without a camera. It was always just something I did because I enjoyed it,” says the Richmond resident.

“At the heart of it I’m still just the girl with the camera trying to post photos that will break up the gloom of the modern day social media thread.

“I have been taking photos for as long as I can remember, and over time I think my technique has definitely improved and I have a fairly solid grasp on the more technical side of photography.

Erin has spent a good deal of her young adult life working overseas, but she’s always come back home to Richmond with a portfolio of truly stunning pictures.

“In 2007 I decided to act upon my love of all things Africa, which saw me move to Botswana to start my journey as a fledging Safari guide and as an assistant to the horse/stable manager of a large Horseback Safari operation in the Okavango Delta.

“I had a suitcase full of clothes and my brand new Olympus 18x digital zoom camera - my pride and joy - and the orchestrator of any African images you will see on my website.”

Out of Africa, Erin took some of her most eye-catching pictures, including these below.

"Delta Dusk" - Erin's favourite photo taken in the Okavango Delta, Botswana where she worked as a horseback safari guide. "There wasn't a worry in the world when faced with this view," she says

"Klein Afrika" - "I don't photograph humans all that often, but this day I was providing schooling essentials to a local village school in Livingstone, Zambia and the kids were so excited by the camera that I ended up taking quite a few. They were wonderfully expressive and the pure joy on their faces was enlightening for me."

A Karoo Dusk ~ "Zebra and Red Hartebeest in the twilight hour in South Africa's Karoo National Park."

“After a few years back in Australia, I set out once again, this time to England, where I worked Tuesdays to Sundays for a local polo professional, and spent Mondays exploring”

Of course it wasn’t all work – Erin loved the freedom of being able to take a 30-minute train trip through the Channel Tunnel to France where she’d fill her car with wine and cheese – but wherever she went, she always had her trusty camera with her.

“The UK was a fantastic base for me,” Erin told the Post.

“I spent my 30th birthday in Italy with my parents, and found myself on regular last minute trips, such as Barbados with friends. I certainly miss the ease of travel that came with life in England.”

"I see" - "My horse, Sahara."

But then it was back home again and Erin spent the next few years working full-time for a Richmond real estate agent.

“But recently I decided to shift my focus to my photography and now I balance my time between the two.

“Ever since the start of social media platforms it has been easy - and free - to publish creative work, and over the years I have always had a pleasant reaction to any photos I have posted.

“I have always had the encouragement and support of my friends and family, and over time I have posted more frequently, and received some amazing comments and feedback on the photos that I have shared.

“A good friend of mine was actually the one that planted the seed in my head to turn my passion into a business, and the same person has been coaching and pushing me ever since.”

Regular Post readers will have seen Erin’s move into another visual art form – the video – with the unveiling of her dramatic, beautiful, and thought-provoking four minuter One Year On - A tale re-told in pictures of the Australian Bush - from Devastation through to Regeneration.

Erin's video - One Year On - has proved a big success

The video shows Blue Mountains sites after bush fires ripped through, and then the film fades and blooms into how those exact same spots are today as they begin to rejuvenate.

“Right around the time someone said to me ‘why don't you make your passion into your business’ much of the Blue Mountains were on fire. To say it was devastating to watch is obviously an understatement,” says Erin.

Little Butcherbird - "I have a host of birds that visit my garden for water and seed, this guy was a favourite."

“I'm sure we all remember the hour-by-hour footage of people losing homes, their belongings, and the ultimate loss, their lives. It was a terrible end and start to the years 2019 and 2020 for many Australians.

“In the days and weeks after, and accompanied by an RFS volunteer, I visited some of the areas hit by the fires, documenting what I saw with my photographs. “It was an eerie outlook of the places that not weeks before, I was hiking - Mount Wilson, Mount Banks, Blackheath and Katoomba, to name a few.

“Charcoal, smoke still in the air, everything just black and different shades of black. Out of respect for privacy I stayed well clear of people's property and belongings, my story was always about the bush and its recovery.

"Natural Light" ~ Lamps ready to take over, Barbados. "Taken at dusk, it's the perfect balance of nature and man's interaction, and a reminder of just how much better nature is at everything."

“My idea really came about when, after a couple of weeks, shoots of green started to break through the charred tree trunks and the bare black earth. It was rather spectacular to see the regeneration process right before my eyes.

“At the end of January I posted my first video based on the regeneration of the bushland, which was well received by Australians, and many others from different countries who had seen the fires in Australia on the news.

"Flow" - "A 30 second exposure photo taken at the Empire Falls, Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains."

“I continued to visit the same areas every few weeks, and it was certainly a privilege to watch the bush continue the healing process that it cycles through after each and every fire.”

When the anniversary of the fires came along, Erin realised she wanted to take a look at the fire grounds and what was happening out there and out of that came One Year On.

“I knew I wanted to do this to remind myself and anyone else who cared to watch, that time heals and most hard times are transient. I felt it was important to present something that was about healing and regeneration at a time when uncertainty and fear were prevalent, as floods and then Covid came along.

"Peace" - "A rainy day in the garden ~ with the delicacy that only nature knows

While I can't choose a favourite type of photography, macro and close-up is something I particularly enjoy as it highlights the details we rarely get to see."

“I started out by picking 30 of what I thought were my best images from the fires, of which I thought would be easy enough to find again one year later (looking vastly different). I then did another 15 to stand alone in the video; five immediately after the fire, five of the new growth and five bright happy images as it looks now.”

So began the first of seven trips up into the Blue Mountains to find the locations for those 30 pictures.

“I spent around an hour per photo trying to get the exact same angle and perspective that I was happy with.

“The biggest dilemma was working with a different camera and a different lens, which just added to the general fun of the experience. Add in some seriously bored friends and family, and a painful sunburn from spending longer then I thought looking for a photo, and I finally had the bones of the video.

“Malabar Thoughtful”

“It took around a week to put together something I was proud to show, and I am thrilled with the feedback I have received, it certainly makes it worth doing.

“Video, for me, is a continuation of my photography, or simply another way to showcase it. In a career full of technicalities and challenges it is another aspect to try and master, and for that I enjoy it. I will start to work more and more with video, particularly for polo games, but still photography is definitely my preference.”

We asked Erin what it is about the Hawkesbury that appeals to her and keeps pulling her back.

“Home to me is wherever I am at the time. For two years Africa was my home, England for 16 months, but the Hawkesbury has always been my base, somewhere I return to in-between travels.

“Richmond in particular I think is a lovely, warm community. It seems to be a hub for emerging new small businesses, particularly now during these new and disconcerting times thrust upon us, and the support behind these concepts is really encouraging.

"Tiny Details" - "the delicacy and intricacy of the spider's web."

“As I spend a lot of my time photographing polo events, the Hawkesbury is an ideal location for me. During the seasons there are games on every weekend for months at a time, which pre-Covid was generally free to spectators.

“The Blue Mountains, in particular, are special to me. They are my go-to for fresh air and a clear headspace, and they contain most of what I love to photograph.”

As well as building her portfolio, Erin is also busy getting her photography business up and running.

“Ever since the start of social media platforms it has been easy (and free) to publish creative work, and over the years I have always had a pleasant reaction to any photos I have posted.

"Aloe Flower" - a close up of an Aloe Vera flower

"I have always had the encouragement and support of my friends and family, and over time I have posted more frequently, and received some amazing comments and feedback on the photos that I have shared.

"A good friend of mine was actually the one that planted the seed in my head to turn my passion into a business, and the same person has been coaching and pushing me ever since.

"I do not define myself as any particular “type” of photographer. I want to do it all. The reason I love photography is because it is art, and completely up for interpretation. I want to take a picture of rain drops on a rose after a summer storm, then a day later hike two hours to the bottom of a waterfall to get my long exposure shot, then the following day to the Speedway track to take some action shots of the sedans racing, or to the polo fields for some pony portraits and game shots. This of course calls for bigger and bigger equipment bags, and it has certainly made other aspects of setting up my business (such as my webpage) more tricky.

"Remys Rose" - "Planted in memory of my little four-legged companion, Remy, the dog. I had Remy since the day she was born and lost her a couple of years ago to melanoma. This is the rose planted on her grave. It's meant to be pure white but developed these little red spots."

"Over time I may narrow down my areas of photography to be more in line with a successful business model, however I will always be the person that gets excited over the colours in dawn and dusk sky, or the one that gets a little too close to the edge in pursuit of the perfect capture.

"My dream is to combine adventure with photography, my two passions in life.”

Check out more of Erin's work at: capturedbyerinmeally.com

And here's Erin's Facebook page for all the latest pics and info.

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