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

Homes

Morocco Meets Mallorca... In Melbourne!

Interior architect Georgia Ezra shares her renovated Spanish Mission style family home in Caulfield.

Architecture

Cuckoo Clock Meets Modern Edwardian Home!

Rara Architecture and Interior Design creates a new Edwardian-inspired, Footscray home.
Miriam McGarry

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Eggplant Parmigiana

A crowd-pleasing silky, cheesy, vegetarian main dish. Best served shared!
Julia Busuttil-Nishimura

Shopping

Lygon Street Nursery's MASSIVE New Indoor Jungle!

Melbourne's newest horticulture, plant and landscaping store opens its doors.
Miriam McGarry
  2 hours ago

Fashion

The Social Studio Celebrates 10 Years With An Art Scarf Fundraiser

Melbourne’s beloved social enterprise launches an incredible Art Scarf auction fundraiser, alongside a star-studded gala.
Miriam McGarry

News

Keep The Fire Burning At Hothaus Glassblowing Studio's Open Day Market!

Help TDF Collect artist Amanda Dziedzic celebrate her new studio space in Melbourne and pick up some unique pieces to raise funds for a furn...
Miriam McGarry
  18 hours ago

Architecture

A Tiny Barn Addition To A Coastal Family Home

See inside this creative extension of a NSW Central Coast family home by Fabric Architecture.
Amelia Barnes

TDF Collect

TDF Collect Presents 'Colourscapes' By Amanda Dziedzic

A new exhibition of striking sculptural glass forms, inspired by the spectacular trophies created for our TDF Design Awards!

Stays

A Former Pub Transformed Into Tasmania’s Newest Boutique Accommodation

Book your stay at Ship Inn Stanley – a beautiful reinvention of an 1849 former pub – now open on Tasmania’s north-west coast.
Amelia Barnes

Vegetable Garden

A Suburban Backyard Turned Thriving Permaculture Garden

Ben Shaw's permaculture garden is an edible paradise in the heart of suburbia.
Georgina Reid

Interiors

A Fashion Blogger’s Stylish Tamarama Apartment

Decus Interiors overhauls the Tamarama apartment of Carmen Hamilton, founder of Chronicles of Her.
Amelia Barnes

Art

Painting Birdsong With Nyangulya Katie Nalgood

The bright and brilliant exhibition ‘Jalmarra-jarti, All the birds have wings’ at Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin.
Miriam McGarry

News

Shop All Your Favourite Ceramicists This Weekend At The Melbourne Ceramics Market!

Our favourite ceramics event is happening again November 16-17. 
Amelia Barnes

News

Get Framed, Limited-Edition Images By Leading Photographers Delivered To Your Door

Hanging beautiful art in your home has never been easier thanks to Format Editions.
Amelia Barnes

Architecture

A Serenely Minimal Toorak Family Home

Elegance meets practicality in the SLD Residence by Davidov Architects.
Amelia Barnes
  18 hours ago

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

Vegetable Garden

A Suburban Backyard Turned Thriving Permaculture Garden

Ben Shaw's permaculture garden is an edible paradise in the heart of suburbia.
Georgina Reid

News

Shop All Your Favourite Ceramicists This Weekend At The Melbourne Ceramics Market!

Our favourite ceramics event is happening again November 16-17. 
Amelia Barnes

Interiors

A Fashion Blogger’s Stylish Tamarama Apartment

Decus Interiors overhauls the Tamarama apartment of Carmen Hamilton, founder of Chronicles of Her.
Amelia Barnes

News

Keep The Fire Burning At Hothaus Glassblowing Studio's Open Day Market!

Help TDF Collect artist Amanda Dziedzic celebrate her new studio space in Melbourne and pick up some unique pieces to raise funds for a furn...
Miriam McGarry
  18 hours ago

Architecture

A Tiny Barn Addition To A Coastal Family Home

See inside this creative extension of a NSW Central Coast family home by Fabric Architecture.
Amelia Barnes

News

Get Framed, Limited-Edition Images By Leading Photographers Delivered To Your Door

Hanging beautiful art in your home has never been easier thanks to Format Editions.
Amelia Barnes

Architecture

A Serenely Minimal Toorak Family Home

Elegance meets practicality in the SLD Residence by Davidov Architects.
Amelia Barnes
  18 hours ago

Shopping

Lygon Street Nursery's MASSIVE New Indoor Jungle!

Melbourne's newest horticulture, plant and landscaping store opens its doors.
Miriam McGarry
  2 hours ago

Homes

Morocco Meets Mallorca... In Melbourne!

Interior architect Georgia Ezra shares her renovated Spanish Mission style family home in Caulfield.

Architecture

Cuckoo Clock Meets Modern Edwardian Home!

Rara Architecture and Interior Design creates a new Edwardian-inspired, Footscray home.
Miriam McGarry

Art

Painting Birdsong With Nyangulya Katie Nalgood

The bright and brilliant exhibition ‘Jalmarra-jarti, All the birds have wings’ at Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin.
Miriam McGarry

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Eggplant Parmigiana

A crowd-pleasing silky, cheesy, vegetarian main dish. Best served shared!
Julia Busuttil-Nishimura

Fashion

The Social Studio Celebrates 10 Years With An Art Scarf Fundraiser

Melbourne’s beloved social enterprise launches an incredible Art Scarf auction fundraiser, alongside a star-studded gala.
Miriam McGarry

Stays

A Former Pub Transformed Into Tasmania’s Newest Boutique Accommodation

Book your stay at Ship Inn Stanley – a beautiful reinvention of an 1849 former pub – now open on Tasmania’s north-west coast.
Amelia Barnes

TDF Collect

TDF Collect Presents 'Colourscapes' By Amanda Dziedzic

A new exhibition of striking sculptural glass forms, inspired by the spectacular trophies created for our TDF Design Awards!

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.