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

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Homes

A Designer’s 1970s Bells Beach Dream Home!

The incredible eclectic home of interior designer Léo Terrando and Jessica Watts, on Victoria's surf coast.

TDF Design Awards

The Sensational Interior Design Finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021!

The 12 incredible residential projects in the running to win the Interior Design award at the TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021, presented by...

News

Shop These Plush Woollen Rugs And Get A Special TDF Discount!

Carpet Court’s customisable rug range is made with 100% New Zealand wool and can be cut to suit the size, shape and colour of your interio...
Sponsored

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Studio Visit

Two Best Friends' Lockdown Hobby Turned Cult Candle Business

Creative entrepreneurs Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri pooled their respective small business knowledge to found Blazed Wax - a colourful, cult-...

Interiors

Get The Look: Dark + Moody Bathrooms And Kitchens

All the product and styling advice you need to achieve the dark, moody bathrooms and kitchen interiors trend, brought to you Oliveri.

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

Architecture

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Architect

Four of Australia's best architects answer your frequently asked questions, from what an architect does, to how much they cost!

Interiors

A Colour-Drenched, 'Grandmillennial' Home In North Sydney

Bold colour, and both English and Moroccan influences come together in this North Sydney home by Lisa Burdus.

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.
Amelia Barnes
  4 hours ago

News

The TDF ‘ALL THE THINGS’ 500k Giveaway!

Help us celebrate half a million (!) Insta followers with epic prize packs for three lucky readers! 

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 Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

News

The TDF ‘ALL THE THINGS’ 500k Giveaway!

Help us celebrate half a million (!) Insta followers with epic prize packs for three lucky readers! 

TDF Design Awards

The Sensational Interior Design Finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021!

The 12 incredible residential projects in the running to win the Interior Design award at the TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021, presented by...

Interiors

A Colour-Drenched, 'Grandmillennial' Home In North Sydney

Bold colour, and both English and Moroccan influences come together in this North Sydney home by Lisa Burdus.

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.
Amelia Barnes
  4 hours ago

News

Shop These Plush Woollen Rugs And Get A Special TDF Discount!

Carpet Court’s customisable rug range is made with 100% New Zealand wool and can be cut to suit the size, shape and colour of your interio...
Sponsored

Homes

A Designer’s 1970s Bells Beach Dream Home!

The incredible eclectic home of interior designer Léo Terrando and Jessica Watts, on Victoria's surf coast.

Architecture

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Architect

Four of Australia's best architects answer your frequently asked questions, from what an architect does, to how much they cost!

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Interiors

Get The Look: Dark + Moody Bathrooms And Kitchens

All the product and styling advice you need to achieve the dark, moody bathrooms and kitchen interiors trend, brought to you Oliveri.

Studio Visit

Two Best Friends' Lockdown Hobby Turned Cult Candle Business

Creative entrepreneurs Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri pooled their respective small business knowledge to found Blazed Wax - a colourful, cult-...
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

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.

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.