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

Interiors

Apartment Life, Furnished Right!

Simone Haag Interior Design transforms a tiny apartment in Clifton Hill into a fun and functional space.
Miriam McGarry

TDF Design Awards

The Emerging Designers In The Running To WIN At The TDF Design Awards

Seven of Australia's most accomplished new designers and emerging design studios, in the running to WIN at TDF Design Awards!

Architecture

A Modern Country Home Inspired By The Aussie Shed

The Wensleydale by Byrne Architects is the epitome of luxe, contemporary country living - and you can stay here!
Miriam McGarry

News

The Archibald Arrives At TarraWarra

Australia’s oldest and most prestigious art award comes to Victoria, featuring portraits of 51 subjects.
Miriam McGarry

Creative People

The New Australian Furniture Brand That ‘Won’t Break The Bank’

The new Peninsula furniture range by Jake Williamson aims to make local design accessible.
Lucy Feagins
  6 hours ago

Modernist Australia

A Robin Boyd Bushland Block Up For Sale!

A classic home by Australia's most loved modernist architect, the 'Uglow House' in Montmorency is on the market for a steal!
Patricia Callan

Studio Visit

The Art Of Daydreaming, Captured In A New Exhibition By Kat Macleod

Inside ‘Reverist’, a new body of work that goes on show at Lamington Drive tonight!
Elle Murrell

Art

Influential Australian Women Star In National Portrait Prize Shortlist

Nova Peris, Magda Szubankski, Annabel Crabb and other icons grace the paintings in the running for Australia's richest art prize, the 2019 D...
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

The Story Behind Our One-Of-A-Kind Awards Trophies

How glass artist Amanda Dziedzic created the exquisite glass trophies we'll be awarding to the TDF Design Award winners tonight!

Shopping

Ten Things Lucy Loved At Maison & Objet In Paris!

Lucy shares the top ten picks from her whirlwind trip to Paris, for Maison & Objet, the premier trade fair for decoration, design and lifest...

Gardens

A Robust Rooftop Garden In Rozelle

Klaus and Anne Schindhelm share their expansive apartment 'backyard' with spectacular water views!
Georgina Reid
  14 hours ago

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Seasonal Flavours: Spring Greens with Ricotta

Our favourite foodie is back with another must-cook dish! Today, the self-taught cook shares her recipe for a simple crowd-pleasing starter....
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Interiors

A Swedish Summer Cottage In South Australia

Emma Read and Sarah Hall of My Sister And The Sea create a cosy cottage getaway on the edge of the Innes National Park.
Miriam McGarry

TDF Design Awards

And Winners Of The TDF Design Awards Are...

After celebrating last night at our fabulous awards ceremony, we are so excited to announce the WINNERS of the TDF Design Awards 2019!

Homes

Plant Mama’s Plant Haven!

Green guru Jenna Holmes aka Plant Mama shares her Collingwood jungle home.

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

Architecture

A Modern Country Home Inspired By The Aussie Shed

The Wensleydale by Byrne Architects is the epitome of luxe, contemporary country living - and you can stay here!
Miriam McGarry

Shopping

Ten Things Lucy Loved At Maison & Objet In Paris!

Lucy shares the top ten picks from her whirlwind trip to Paris, for Maison & Objet, the premier trade fair for decoration, design and lifest...

News

The Archibald Arrives At TarraWarra

Australia’s oldest and most prestigious art award comes to Victoria, featuring portraits of 51 subjects.
Miriam McGarry

Interiors

A Swedish Summer Cottage In South Australia

Emma Read and Sarah Hall of My Sister And The Sea create a cosy cottage getaway on the edge of the Innes National Park.
Miriam McGarry

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Seasonal Flavours: Spring Greens with Ricotta

Our favourite foodie is back with another must-cook dish! Today, the self-taught cook shares her recipe for a simple crowd-pleasing starter....
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

TDF Design Awards

The Emerging Designers In The Running To WIN At The TDF Design Awards

Seven of Australia's most accomplished new designers and emerging design studios, in the running to WIN at TDF Design Awards!

Creative People

The New Australian Furniture Brand That ‘Won’t Break The Bank’

The new Peninsula furniture range by Jake Williamson aims to make local design accessible.
Lucy Feagins
  6 hours ago

Art

Influential Australian Women Star In National Portrait Prize Shortlist

Nova Peris, Magda Szubankski, Annabel Crabb and other icons grace the paintings in the running for Australia's richest art prize, the 2019 D...
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

The Story Behind Our One-Of-A-Kind Awards Trophies

How glass artist Amanda Dziedzic created the exquisite glass trophies we'll be awarding to the TDF Design Award winners tonight!

Gardens

A Robust Rooftop Garden In Rozelle

Klaus and Anne Schindhelm share their expansive apartment 'backyard' with spectacular water views!
Georgina Reid
  14 hours ago

TDF Design Awards

And Winners Of The TDF Design Awards Are...

After celebrating last night at our fabulous awards ceremony, we are so excited to announce the WINNERS of the TDF Design Awards 2019!

Interiors

Apartment Life, Furnished Right!

Simone Haag Interior Design transforms a tiny apartment in Clifton Hill into a fun and functional space.
Miriam McGarry

Homes

Plant Mama’s Plant Haven!

Green guru Jenna Holmes aka Plant Mama shares her Collingwood jungle home.

Modernist Australia

A Robin Boyd Bushland Block Up For Sale!

A classic home by Australia's most loved modernist architect, the 'Uglow House' in Montmorency is on the market for a steal!
Patricia Callan

Studio Visit

The Art Of Daydreaming, Captured In A New Exhibition By Kat Macleod

Inside ‘Reverist’, a new body of work that goes on show at Lamington Drive tonight!
Elle Murrell

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.