This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Australian Beach Culture Laid Bare

In Print

Powerful yet fragile, the ocean is many things for many different Australians.

Photojournalist Paul Blackmore contemplates our ‘almost spiritual reliance’ on the water in his captivating new book, Heat.

In-between daily swims, the Sydney-based lensman spoke about this passion project, which has been four years, and a lot of underwater hours, in the making!

3rd July, 2019

The titular photography, ‘Heat’ From Paul Blackmore’s new series. Photo – Paul Blackmore.

The series was captured over four years from Bondi to Clovelly. Pictured here ‘Bondi’. Photo – Paul Blackmore.

‘Bondi lovers’ and ‘Flat Rock Bondi’. Photo – Paul Blackmore.

‘Icebergs Bondi’. Photo – Paul Blackmore.

‘Heat’ explores Australia’s cultural and spiritual reliance on our beaches and how the ocean connects us to ourselves, one another and our shared environment. Photo – Paul Blackmore.

‘I love shooting in and under the water – the way you have to be in sync with the rhythm of the ocean,’ tells Paul. Pictured here ‘Heat’. Photo – Paul Blackmore.

Elle Murrell
Wednesday 3rd July 2019

‘It was the feeling of going into the ocean and experiencing its redemptive power that inspired me to start this project’ – Paul Blackmore.

‘Australians have an almost spiritual reliance on the beach and the ocean,’ begins Paul Blackmore. ‘In a way, it is where we see our culture laid bare. We get to see a cosmopolitan confidence, a mingling of cultures and peoples from all backgrounds, a parade of vitality and harmony that creates a unique flavour.’

Over the past 25 years, the photojournalist has set out to create visual narratives about contemporary social issues, by photographing real people and environments in candid situations. His latest series, Heat, highlights the important connection Australians have with the water, as well as the power, beauty and fragility of nature in the age of climate change.

Photographed from Bondi to Clovelly, Heat  ‘celebrates the intense beauty, the rhythms of the ocean, and the people who swim in it,’ details the avid ocean swimmer. ‘For me, the act of immersing myself into the enormity of the ocean is like a secular baptism; a cleansing of the mind and body. It was the feeling of going into the ocean and experiencing its redemptive power that inspired me to start this project.’

Much of the series was captured using waterproof housing and a ‘fairly simple’ set-up of two cameras and a couple of lenses, which allowed for shooting in the surf or underwater, yet maintaining the high quality of large-format cameras. Final editing and production took place in Paul’s shared studio, located in the beautiful old Marlborough Building in Surry Hills.

The Sydney native started out shooting with his Dad’s Nikon at aged 14. ‘Taking photos became the way I engaged with the world and became my way of communicating,’ he recalls. Before long, the family laundry was transformed into a darkroom and his bedroom walls were plastered with photos cut from Time and National Geographic. As a fresh Philosophy and Economics graduate, Paul took off on a formative solo roadtrip to Darwin through Queensland and Arnhem Land. Over five months, he spent his days photographing people on cattle stations and in remote communities. That series became Paul’s first book, the widely-published Australians: Response to the Land. ‘Most importantly It gave me the sense that I can do this; I have worked as a photographer for the last 25 years,’ he tells.

Subsequent passion projects like At Water’s Edge, and the recent Heat, have come to life alongside Paul’s commercial commissions, which have taken the photographer all over the world. He has worked with the likes of Time, Le Monde, L’Express, Good Weekend, Vogue, Marie Claire and on advertising campaigns for Qantas, Telstra, Apple, Google, Westpac, and Woolworths.

‘The most exciting part of photography is that it allows you to explore worlds that you might not normally experience. Even though Heat was shot in my own backyard, it took me on an obsessive creative journey, where every time I photographed it felt new and fresh,’ says the Tamarama local. Paul is ecstatic to share this journey with others, for it’s also one that aligns with his entire approach to his profession: ‘create from the heart, make it personal, and never stop experimenting’.

Turning through Heat is a profound reminder of how the ocean is intertwined with life in Australia – connecting us to ourselves, one another, and our unique environment.

See more of Paul Blackmore’s work on his website Paulblackmore.com or by following on Instagram @paulblackmorephoto (his next project will take him to Beirut, Lebanon). ‘Heat’ is available to purchase here, and works from the series GOMA’s blockbuster exhibition ‘Water‘ later this year.

This Week

News

Go To Caroline Walls’ Gallery Opening Via IGTV!

Let’s be real, what else are you doing? The Melbourne-based visual artist is taking to the virtual realm to open her solo show, Resemb...
Sasha Gattermayr

Homes

A Designer’s ‘Curated Maximalist’ Apartment in Sydney

Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming shares his treasure-box apartment in Sydney's Waterloo.

TDF Collect

'I Been Born There' By Maggie Green At TDF Collect – A Virtual Walkthrough!

In lieu of being able to open this spectacular exhibition, we made a video with SIRAP to bring Maggie Green's debut solo show to you!

TDF Design Awards

Announcing... The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020!

It's time to enter The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards! Our broad-reaching and inclusive awards program that shines a spotlight on Aust...
Lucy Feagins
  7 hours ago

Architecture

A Serene Japanese-Inspired Home In Melbourne

Japanese design principles underpin Highbury Grove by Ritz&Ghougassian, designed for the studio's co-director.

Times Like These

Times Like These... With New York Times Food Columnist And Author Alison Roman

The New York-based bestselling author and beloved cook talks about feeling all the feelings of COVID-19, finding the motivation to work, and...

Interiors

Creating The Best Kids Bedroom Ever!

...got some time on your hands? Lauren Li shows us how to create a kids bedroom that is sure to keep the kids AND the grown-ups happy!
Lauren Li

The Good Room

A Magazine Maven's Sentimental Good Room In The Southern Highlands

Former head of Vogue Living and Monocle magazines, Robyn Holt shares her 'Good Room' at home in regional NSW, layered with pieces collected
Lisa Marie Corso

Interiors

Introducing The 2020 Dulux Colour Awards Finalists!

From a candy pink bathroom to an all-green-everything living room, take a closer look at our favourite residential projects shortlisted for

News

'Design Lives Here' Takes You Inside Other People's Houses, From The Comfort Of Your Own

Sick of the inside of your own house by now? Take look at someone else’s in this new book by the former editor of Artichoke magazine...

Food

Week 2 Of Pantry-Friendly Meal Ideas From Julia Busuttil Nishimura

The queen of home cooking returns to warm our hearts with another seven day's worth of meal ideas, and a shopping list for everything you'll...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Gardens

How To Start A Productive Garden TODAY!

We turn to three seasoned experts for tips on how to get started, what to plant in small spaces and how long it will take to start seeing re...

Studio Visit

Kayleigh Heydon's Paintings Will Light Up Your Life

The Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist takes us through her Northcote studio.
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace Transformed, With Minimal Intervention

Let there be light! Austin Maynard Architects illuminates a dark Carlton terrace with a new renovation, including internal gardens!
Amelia Barnes

News

Cream Town Is Making It Easy (And Affordable!) To Support Local Artists From Home

Two Victorian artists launch an online affordable art dealership for artists who have lost their income to the coronavirus pandemic.

View Comments

Similar Stories

News

The Great Barrier Reef + Human Vulnerability Under A New Lens

A powerful exhibition by photographer Tamara Dean, created on a life-changing trip to Heron Island with the Climate Council.
Elle Murrell

Photography

A Solo Pilot's Breathtaking Photographic Project

Andrew Vukosav's current exhibition, 'Longitude, Latitude, Solitude', has taken the accomplished commercial photographer and his Cessna 182R...
Elle Murrell

In Print

Exploring Some Of The Best Swimming Spots In Australia

Indulge all your aquatic fantasies with 'Places We Swim', a travel guide documenting the very best swimming spots across the country.

This Week

Times Like These

Times Like These... With New York Times Food Columnist And Author Alison Roman

The New York-based bestselling author and beloved cook talks about feeling all the feelings of COVID-19, finding the motivation to work, and...

Homes

A Designer’s ‘Curated Maximalist’ Apartment in Sydney

Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming shares his treasure-box apartment in Sydney's Waterloo.

News

Go To Caroline Walls’ Gallery Opening Via IGTV!

Let’s be real, what else are you doing? The Melbourne-based visual artist is taking to the virtual realm to open her solo show, Resemb...
Sasha Gattermayr

Interiors

Creating The Best Kids Bedroom Ever!

...got some time on your hands? Lauren Li shows us how to create a kids bedroom that is sure to keep the kids AND the grown-ups happy!
Lauren Li

Food

Week 2 Of Pantry-Friendly Meal Ideas From Julia Busuttil Nishimura

The queen of home cooking returns to warm our hearts with another seven day's worth of meal ideas, and a shopping list for everything you'll...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

TDF Collect

'I Been Born There' By Maggie Green At TDF Collect – A Virtual Walkthrough!

In lieu of being able to open this spectacular exhibition, we made a video with SIRAP to bring Maggie Green's debut solo show to you!

News

Cream Town Is Making It Easy (And Affordable!) To Support Local Artists From Home

Two Victorian artists launch an online affordable art dealership for artists who have lost their income to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Good Room

A Magazine Maven's Sentimental Good Room In The Southern Highlands

Former head of Vogue Living and Monocle magazines, Robyn Holt shares her 'Good Room' at home in regional NSW, layered with pieces collected
Lisa Marie Corso

News

'Design Lives Here' Takes You Inside Other People's Houses, From The Comfort Of Your Own

Sick of the inside of your own house by now? Take look at someone else’s in this new book by the former editor of Artichoke magazine...

Architecture

A Serene Japanese-Inspired Home In Melbourne

Japanese design principles underpin Highbury Grove by Ritz&Ghougassian, designed for the studio's co-director.

Interiors

Introducing The 2020 Dulux Colour Awards Finalists!

From a candy pink bathroom to an all-green-everything living room, take a closer look at our favourite residential projects shortlisted for

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace Transformed, With Minimal Intervention

Let there be light! Austin Maynard Architects illuminates a dark Carlton terrace with a new renovation, including internal gardens!
Amelia Barnes

Gardens

How To Start A Productive Garden TODAY!

We turn to three seasoned experts for tips on how to get started, what to plant in small spaces and how long it will take to start seeing re...

TDF Design Awards

Announcing... The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020!

It's time to enter The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards! Our broad-reaching and inclusive awards program that shines a spotlight on Aust...
Lucy Feagins
  7 hours ago

Studio Visit

Kayleigh Heydon's Paintings Will Light Up Your Life

The Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist takes us through her Northcote studio.
Sasha Gattermayr

Similar Stories

News

The Great Barrier Reef + Human Vulnerability Under A New Lens

A powerful exhibition by photographer Tamara Dean, created on a life-changing trip to Heron Island with the Climate Council.
Elle Murrell

Photography

A Solo Pilot's Breathtaking Photographic Project

Andrew Vukosav's current exhibition, 'Longitude, Latitude, Solitude', has taken the accomplished commercial photographer and his Cessna 182R...
Elle Murrell

In Print

Exploring Some Of The Best Swimming Spots In Australia

Indulge all your aquatic fantasies with 'Places We Swim', a travel guide documenting the very best swimming spots across the country.