In the months leading up to Australia’s catastrophic bushfires, rural areas were already feeling the effects of smaller spot fires and the sky was giving off an eerie orange glow. During this time, photography duo Lola & Pani were taking photos in Pani’s hometown in the Northern Rivers.
Words and Photography by Lola & Pani
Since capturing vignettes of Australian life leading up to the fires, Lola and Pani have curated their photos into a series named Australia Prints, with all profits from print sales going to relevant charities to support bushfire recovery. We had a chat to Lola about the story behind her and Pani’s series.
“It was towards the beginning of what would become the all too familiar ‘red glow’ Australians would get used too.”
Why did you decide to create this series?
We had visited Australia a few months before the fires had really escalated. Around August/September of 2019. There were some smaller ones nearby which were already unexpectedly large for that time of year. It was towards the beginning of what would become the all too familiar “red glow” Australians would get used too. The light was so eerie and it felt like dusk all day.
I guess we decided to do it for the same reason many other artists did. We wanted to try to make a contribution towards the amazing work that people and communities had been doing to fight the fires and support the wildlife. We were really amazed by the response we got and are so glad we could contribute in such a way.
If you had to choose a favourite photo from it, which would you choose?
We both have different favourites actually. My favourite is the sculpture. I had been eyeing it up a few times but the light was never right. Unfortunately, I had to leave Australia before Pani but I made him promise to get a picture of it before he left.
Pani’s favourite is probably the flowers in the old pasta sauce jar, “something about the tones and the condensation in the jar.” We did make a conscious choice to have these tones throughout while choosing the images. They all have the same warm light or a beige bone colour element.
“The light was so eerie and it felt like dusk all day.”
What do you hope people will take away from the series?
After knowing what we know now about how the fires devastated the land they have a kind of ominous feeling. Although this was obviously not our intention when making the pictures we feel they developed into kind of a subtle reminder. Our work is often very detail focused and quite sentimental. The image of the canteen for example is such a mundane everyday thing for many people but it holds a lot of sentiment. We feel moments like these can also be very impactful on a viewer. This image was made during a soccer game in Lismore.
“The pictures developed into kind of a subtle reminder.”
What gear did you use to shoot these photos?
We shoot primarily with medium format film cameras, Mamiya RZ67 or Pentax 67ii. These images were done with the Pentax. We have hand prints made in the darkroom and then we scan the prints. Quite a long process but this system works best for achieving what we want.