‘Australia + Fashion Photography’ Exhibition At Head On Photo Festival 2023

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Australian photographer Kent Johnson and Chinese Taiwanese writer and blogger Vivienne She at the launch of Head On Photo Festival 2023 in Bondi Pavilion. Vivienne She and Kent Johnson stand in front of the media wall.
Kent and I at the opening night of Head On Photo Festival 2023. Photo credit: Tony Potts

The Inspiration Behind Kent’s ‘Australia + Fashion Photography’

Lining the fence of Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach. Head On Photo Festival photography exhibitions showcase along the Bondi Beach promenade.
Lining the fence of Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach. Head On Photo Festival 2023 kicks off on the 10th of November. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

It all started with an image taken by celebrated Australian fashion photographer Brett Hilder in 1976. It’s Uluru in twilight in the background, a woman in her red high heels bends forward to the back of a car, the wind blows up her dress and reveals the profile of her cheeks and legs. The red tone of this image, from the red soil to that famous red giant rock unmistakenly tells a Central Australia fashion story. Brett often calls it ‘Legs Over Ayres Rock’ (Uluru then known as Ayres Rock). It’s my favourite fashion picture, and one of Kent’s favourites too. We think it belongs to an art gallery or a museum. (If it has not yet been collected by a museum, we don’t understand why!)

Australian photographer Kent Johnson and Chinese Taiwanese writer and blogger Vivienne She at the Head On Photo Festival 2023. Vivienne She and Kent Johnson stand in front of the 'Australia + Fashion Photography' curated by Kent Johnson. Outdoor photography exhibition showcases at Bondi Beach promenade.
The image beside Kent is Brett’s ‘Legs Over Ayres Rock’ which we adore!

Kent had since wanted to promote fashion photography, stating: ‘I want to show that fashion photography is, not just for magazines and then the bin. I want to show that fashion photography is not disposable imagery and that great creative photography is visual art worth collecting, well worth space on your wall, just like any fine art!’ This year Kent decided to put together a group exhibition of fashion photography. The idea of having an Australian identity was formed based on Brett’s ‘Legs Over Ayres Rock’. As Kent put it: ‘Why is everyone trying to promote New York, Los Angeles, or Europe? How about telling our own fashion story?’ Once Australia + Fashion Photography set the tone, he started reaching out to Australian fashion photographers who produced work to meet the brief.

Lining the fence of Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach. Head On Photo Festival photography exhibitions showcase along the Bondi Beach promenade. 'Australia + Fashion Photography' curated by Australian photographer Kent Johnson.
Some images from the ‘Australia + Fashion Photography’ showcase along the Bondi Beach promenade. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

‘Australia + Fashion Photography’ Exhibition At Pingyao International Photo Festival 2023

Head On Photo Festival Founder and Artistic Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM giving a talk at Head On Photo Festival 2023 launch event in Bondi Pavilion.
Head On Photo Festival Founder and Artistic Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM at the opening night. The projection shows an image from China’s Pingyao International Photography Festival. Photo credit: Vivienne She

Kent’s idea of Australia-focused fashion images was well received by Head On exhibition panel committees. Once Kent secured a list of renowned local fashion photographers: Brett Hilder, Grant Matthews, Juli Balla, Liz Ham, Michele Aboud, Tony Potts (names in alphabetical order), plus Kent himself. A selection of stunning works by these artists was immediately chosen by Head On Photo Festival and travelled in September with Head On to be one of two exhibitions to show in China’s Pingyao International Photography Festival, together with ‘Head On Landscape + Portrait Awards Revisit’.

‘Australia + Fashion Photography’ Exhibition At Head On Photo Festival 2023

Australian photographer Kent Johnson at the launch of Head On Photo Festival 2023 at Bondi Pavilion, in front of the media wall.
Kent is a one-time finalist and three-time semi-finalist in the Head On Portrait Award to date. Photo credit: Vivienne She
Architect Barry Gibbon (left) and Australian fashion photographer Tony Potts at the 2023 launch of Head On Photo Festival in Bondi Pavilion.
Architect Barry Gibbon (left) and fashion photographer Tony Potts at the Head On 2023 launch. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

On November 10th, the launch of Head On Photo Festival 2023. Knowing Kent’s group exhibition showcased at Bondi Beach on the promenade, we went there to take a good look before attending the opening. It was great to see a group of fashion photographs in different styles but all shared the Australian DNA in one way or another. Like the rest of the co-exhibitors, Kent has three images on the show. Two from his ‘The Girls Who Fell to Earth’, and one from his ‘Alice’s Dream Time’ fashion story. If you are not familiar with his work and would like to check it out, you may take a trip to Bondi Beach before the 3rd of December, or simply click here to visit Kent’s website.

Three fashion photographs from photographer Kent Johnson, part of the 'Australia + Fashion Photography' exhibition, exhibited at Bondi Beach promenade.
Kent’s three images on the show. Two from his ‘The Girls Who Fell to Earth’ (left and centre), and one from his ‘Alice’s Dream Time’ fashion story. Photo credit: Vivienne She

At the launch, which was held in Bondi Pavilion, Kent and I were delighted to catch up with some friends. Deborah Marks, Zorica Purlija, Nyk Sykes, Sandy Edwards, Barry Gibbon, Lesley Dimmick, Stephen Wong, Hugh Drake… We were happy to see one of Kent’s co-exhibitors Tony Potts enjoy the event’s opening. I half-jocked saying to Tony: ‘You are my six degrees of separation from Helmut Newton!’ Yes, Tony Potts was one of the models in Newton’s photos! For those of you who would like to find out more about all the fashion photographers on ‘Australia + Fashion Photography’, here’s a link to Kent’s post where he explained why these photographers’ works attracted him in the first place. And, Kent has also made a YouTube video where he chatted with all photographers involved in ‘Australia + Fashion Photography’ about their work.

Head On Conversation: It’s Mine

Head On panel-style Conversation: It's Mine. From left to right: TAFE PhotoImaging teacher and photographer Dario Gardiman. Moderator: Claudia Chan Shaw. South African photographer Karabo Mooki. Australian photographer and curator Kent Johnson.
At Head On Conversation: It’s Mine. Panel-style discussions to explore ‘What makes a personal style?’ raised by and about photography. Photo credit: Vivienne She
Head On panel-style Conversation: It's Mine. From left to right: TAFE PhotoImaging teacher and photographer Dario Gardiman. Moderator: Claudia Chan Shaw. South African photographer Karabo Mooki. Australian photographer and curator Kent Johnson.
Panel for the discussion, from left to right: TAFE PhotoImaging teacher and photographer Dario Gardiman. Moderator: Claudia Chan Shaw (artist, curator, and broadcaster). Photographer Karabo Mooki. Photographer and curator Kent Johnson. Photo credit: Vivienne She

Head On Conversations are panel-style discussions created to explore subjects raised by and about photography and to provoke thoughts and inspiration. Being a curator and co-exhibitor this year, Kent was part of the panel discussion of Head On Conversation: It’s Mine. A topic exploring ‘what makes a personal style?’ Artist, broadcaster, and curator Claudia Chan Shaw was the moderator of the panel. Besides Kent, other panel members were Karabo Mooki, a fellow featured exhibitor, and TAFE PhotoImaging teacher and photographer Dario Gardiman.

Head On panel-style Conversation: It's Mine. From left to right: Moderator: Claudia Chan Shaw. South African photographer Karabo Mooki. Australian photographer and curator Kent Johnson.
An amusing moment during the conversations! Photo credit: Vivienne She
Head On Conversation: It's Mine. From left to right: TAFE PhotoImaging teacher and photographer Dario Gardiman. Australian photographer and curator Kent Johnson. Moderator: Claudia Chan Shaw. South African photographer Karabo Mooki. Head On Photo Festival Founder and Artistic Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM.
And it’s a wrap! Moshe joins the panel members for a group photo at the end of the talk. Photo credit: Vivienne She

Asked by Claudia, ‘What drawn you to a subject?’ Mooki’s answer was: ‘The interest I have in people. I’m hungry to learn more about them!’, as for Kent, he recalled the days when he was documenting street-style fashion at art openings for his Street Fashion Sydney blog. What caught his eyes was a sense of personal style, ‘which is a lot rarer than people realise.’ he added. Whereas Dario, when being asked: ‘How do you build and consider your personal style in photography?’ He stated that he would like to embrace more uniqueness, but ‘to make my clients happy’ was in his best interest. And that, all photographers seemed to agree. The hour-long conversation was lighthearted and informative. I enjoyed it very much.

Lining the fence of Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach. Head On Photo Festival photography exhibitions showcase along the Bondi Beach promenade. 'Australia + Fashion Photography' curated by Australian photographer Kent Johnson.
Head On Photo Festival 2023 ends on the 3rd of December. Don’t miss out! Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Head On Photo Festival 2023 runs from the 10th of November to the 3rd of December. ‘Australia + Fashion Photography’ is Kent’s third exhibition for Head On. He is a one-time finalist and three-time semi-finalist in the Head On Portrait Award to date. Any inquiries about Kent’s pictures or feedback regarding his exhibition, please contact him.

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Vivienne She
Vivienne is an author, traveller, story teller, and occasionally a muse. Through White Caviar Life, you will share in her leisure activities, dining and travel experiences, and her fashion style tips that she hopes to inspire your way of living.

4 COMMENTS

    • Thank you too, Mary. We hope to see you this afternoon at the Head On Artist Walk & Talk in Bondi Pavilion! X

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