The Act of Knowing

CityMag Adelaide #019 Nov 28th 2018
Senior Editor Farrin Foster \ Creative Director Tyrone Ormsby \ Commissioned Photographer Dave Laslett

Culture is not always conscious. It is not just what is seen or heard. Through thousands of exceptional and unexceptional daily actions, the First Nations of Australia constantly perpetuate — continuing stories that stretch infinitely through time.


On his tour of South Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor General of Australia, stopped in to Davenport Community for 40 minutes. As a once in a lifetime opportunity planning had to go into each stage of the visit. Using a ghosting method with an assistant I covered the visit to the Umeewarra Childrens Home leading into a pre lit zone outside of the main community council office. Dropping the profoto trigger and heading into the main board room to an awaiting Jinbei 600 watt head. Heading back out to the woman shed we continued to ghost with another profoto rig and a Kacey Enterprises beauty dish.

FOOTSTEPS \ Road to Recovery

Photographed over four days on the west side of Port Augusta was a really rewarding time spent with the people of the Footsteps facility hearing stories, watching the progress and seeing some of the people leave after their twelve week program had been successfully completed.

On a technical side this entire series utilised multiple plates, shooting positions and large light sources the most entertaining was shooting from the roof of the Land Rover communicating with assistants via UHF.


Barngarla Songs Project with new project producer Louise Dunn from Nexus Arts in collaboration with Stephen Atkinson, Corey Theatre is underway. Learning a lot and great to be back into the film world after working for an extended period with the photographic mentoring program in Davenport Community.


Great to finish 2016 with a bang. HOPE, a work derived from the HOMELAND Series placed in the winners of the 2016 Australian Photography Awards in its category People & Culture. The new year looks to be an exciting one with the Barngarla Language Project starting up in mid January. Working closely with traditional owners, musicians and producers the documentation with cover over six months of work reviving and retaining traditional Barngarla language, songs and stories from the mid north region of South Australia.


Since August 2016 the mentoring project has been running within the Davenport Community in Port Augusta. We traversed all the way from smartphones to the introduction of DSLR cameras and now into off camera flash and advanced lighting modification and scene creation.

Currently six of the ten participants have completed their shoots which has been really great to see. The help each group member has rendered to each others projects has been amazing to watch will a few stand out students attending every session and even the duplicated events for others with family commitments.

At this stage i’m planning an image viewing day as a one on one format for the completed shoots so art directors can pick out their images and also learn how image editing and composition work.

With the empowerment of equipment and the instilling of knowledge it is inspiring to see the progression from earlier this year.

As we march together toward the 2017 group exhibition the continued enthusiasm and excitement continues to build.

Interested in photography and want to take your art form to another level?

Davenport Community Council is offering an exciting opportunity for emerging first nation artists to discover & develop their creativity across all skill levels.

In partnership with award winning illustrative artist Dave Laslett (AU), mentor and celebrated photographer Nat Rogers (AU) and world renowned light painting master Denis Smith (NZ) the empowerment mentoring sessions will traverse from ipad / iphone tips and tricks to DSLR basics all the way through to advanced lighting and an exclusive insight into the process of illustrative artistry.

There is a place for everyone in this program even if you don’t create photos you can come along and man the smoke machine, throw some dust into the scene or hold a light. The mentoring is open to all in a friendly, positive and safe environment.

In association with Olympic Dam Aboriginal Trust the works generated will be professionally printed and framed. The artists developed over this mentorship will be included in a Group Exhibition in Port Augusta where community can come together and celebrate the creativity of the participants.

Expressions of interest can be lodged by email:

Dave Laslett
Davenport Community Council

Nat Rogers Mentor


As part of the planned projects for 2014 I went and visited Mona Olsson at her home in Pooraka. This project will involve filming all across South Australia covering the many facets to Mona’s 82 year life.

From Pooraka we travelled to the Colebrook Blackwood Reconciliation Park to visit the 'Fountain of Tears' and the 'Grieving Mother'.

This was a deeply emotional time for Mona as she took me through her forced journey from her homelands and recollected memories shared with her family.

Quotation excerpts from New Times 2008 Mona Olsson.

Saying sorry doesn’t mean much unless we can leave that part of our history behind, having addressed it, and go forward in forgiveness, healing, restoration and partnership with the rest of Australia".

The Government’s apology is a momentous occasion but it should not be simply thought of as a one-day event. We look forward to the Federal Government acting on its commitments to Aboriginal people".

"More than ten years ago, Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released the ‘Bringing them home’ report. It contained 54 recommendations, one of which called for official apologies from Australian Parliaments and ‘appropriate reparation’.


Since September 2015 I have been on a mission to convert an ex military 6WD perentie Land Rover 110 series into a functional mobile art space. It hasn’t been an easy journey and one that is by no means over as additions and repairs are made along the way. Without the support of my family and close friends none of this would have been possible really it’s a crazy feat in anyones world.

Since September I have travelled from Queensland all the way through to Port Augusta to shoot the Aboriginal Sporting Carnival, to Finnis Springs Station and Kati Thanda to create a set of historical and illustrative interpretive images onto Coober Pedy via the Oodnadatta Track to interview six people leading into travelling to Mitchellville to spend nine days with Alan McWilliams one of the last missionaries and see what the difference between the welfare system and mission was. Now being based in Port Augusta and editing all of the work gives me time to think about the past, present and future which to a lot of creatives can be quite scary and daunting.

From all of the additions and upgrades to the truck I was able to give it a real test out on the Oodnadatta track and the Kati Thanda National Park road seeing what fell off or shook loose and what proved its merit.

I suppose at this moment in time I feel like I am engaging wth important work and the momentum and drive is quickly provided by this almost like a self sustaining power source. Along the way the challenges only prove to strengthen my resolve.


Again it was great meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends.

Spirit Festival was a full week of great activities, comedy, music, dancing & workshops to get involved with.

Over 6 days I shot 1000 frames all selectively lit without assistance delivering 500 images to the client. A lot of the duplicate images were plates for the removal of light stands, maximum detail mapping and to capture images that could never truly be represented by any wide angle lens.

Technically speaking the project was quite in depth moving from venue to venue each with it's own dimension, trouble areas and access limitations. To combat this I prelit each venue with a simple killzone technique to avoid carrying light stands and lighting equipment around the 2km square festival area.

Indoor killzones relied on the Nikon CLS while outside the power of the profoto acute b2 AirS system overpowered the sun and produced high contrasting dramatic frames.

Check out my favourite final images below.



Always a huge honour to be asked to travel around country to facilitate community. This project grabbed me instantly an opportunity to document every participant in the festivals football teams.

History only plays for so long and what i’ve learnt in the past two years is that if you have the opportunity just go and do it. Sometime logistics, funding and people stand in the way but it’s important to document and facilitate in the moment. You never know the moment may have passed tomorrow and in many cases it has.

Honouring a project and the people involved always weighs heavily on my mind. I decided pretty early on to use the impossible selective lighting patterns with the 1.2m octabank in the heavy wind without an assistant taking 4-8 frames of each team to show the teams in their best light.

The editing for these large images was intense. I’m used to maybe twelve people in a group shot as a family unit a lot of these images captured entire teams including coaching staff, assistants, water boys and runners.


Excited to have been announced as an Australian finalist in the 2015 Fremantle International Portrait Prize to be exhibited October 25th to November 1st at the Moores Contemporary Gallery with the winner announced on the night.

All proceeds from the exhibition go to raising funds to Arthritis & Osteoporosis Western Australia. At this stage finalists are not allowed to share the chosen images until the official announcement but i’m happy with the chosen image from the judging panel and the story that goes alongside it.


A lot of my work around Australia is classified as pro bono.
This gives me the opportunity to work with communities, organisations, families and individuals who don't have the means to afford professional services. This doesn't negate the fact that they require and more importantly deserve to have access.

Pro bono work is really rewarding in the sense that I can give back, when I can, and I know everyone says that they get back more than they give and it sounds clique and spin like but it’s true. Back in June I was approached by the directors of the South Australian Aboriginal Womens Football Team to photograph the captains at the Adelaide Oval. There are a lot of talented photographers out there especially within the First Nations family so to be chosen was quite an honour. This assignment came about from the pro bono work HOMELAND \ The Importance of Place and from working closely with the Coober Pedy Saints.

I’ve travelled to some really remarkable areas of Australia, even within the limitation of owning a small front wheel drive Corolla, engaging with some amazing families and communities along the way. There is nothing wrong with pro bono I suppose i’m learning that to be true to the work commercial work needs to push the infrastructure forward allowing more of these unique and impossible creations.

Buy pocket wizards australia


Have been going through the studio and throwing out bolts and brackets that I don't need and also selling off equipment that has been sitting in their boxes for too long and not being used.

I will be selling the Merlic Steadicam as i'm too busy to learn how to use it and have a pretty good system in place no matter how strange it is seems to be working ok.

Pocket Wizard Kit <SOLD>
Merlin Steadicam 2 System