Using creative photography and Photoshop, local Moreton Bay Region photographic artist Hayley Roberts creates illusions that blend fantasy into the every day. Through the use of characters, costumes, props and posing she creates a more interesting reality where people and the natural environment coexist in a harmonious relationship with just a touch of magic.
Hayley has kindly shared her recent project 'Land and I', a photographic series that brings stories inspired by local history and Indigenous culture together, with Visit Moreton Bay Region (links to all the work below). We thought it was time to learn a little more about the artist, from her equipment to inspirations, so we asked Hayley a few questions about herself and her work.
I have a shocking long term memory and honestly don’t remember. But I took a semester of black and white photography in high school and I do remember those photos, mainly because it was the first time I’d tried photography with an artistic eye. They were of ferris wheels, interesting vegetables, light ripples on water, and faces pressed up against glass. Back then you needed a dark room so I gave up photography for a little while due to the expense.
My father also has an interest in photography so I was lucky enough to learn photography with his hand-me-downs. However, the first camera I bought, which I still use today, is a Canon 5D Mark III, which cost nearly $3k at the time so it was a fairly significant purchase. I love it for various technical reasons but it was marketed as being the camera for professionals so once you owned one it tended to mark you out as a serious photographer, which you’d want to be spending that kind of money!
For about three years I was taking photos of anything and everything, but my photographs would just sit on my computer doing nothing except clogging up my hard drive. I was watching a bit of CreativeLIVE at the time (an online learning platform) and saw an ad for a course with a photographer who was using her photographs to create art. I decided on a whim to tune in and was amazed by what she was doing. Her work brought together all the things I’d been experimenting with and I knew immediately that I’d found the kind of photographer I wanted to be.
Gosh, I loved so many as a child. I think they all swirled around in my subconscious. But the story which has stuck with me the most, although arguably not a fairy tale, is Alice in Wonderland. The book is truly strange but the imagery is so rich and surreal, constantly messing with the rules of reality, but still retaining this wonderful innocence. I think of my work as ‘magical realism’ where magic seeps into reality and Lewis Carroll explored a number of ways to break the rules of what we know and accept.
I wouldn’t say I view myself as a character in a story but I do try and create a reality I’d prefer to live in. The world can be a grim place and my art offers an escape from that into another reality where magic can and does happen. My work also portrays people and the natural environment coexisting harmoniously which, obviously, I’d prefer for the real world too. I am primarily a self-portraitist which critics like to analyse and find some deeper meaning for, but truly the reason I create self-portraits is for convenience sake as I’d much prefer to work with models if I could make that happen easily.
I used to make up stories about nature as a kid so I’ve long wanted to create a project that explores stories of Australian landscapes. Using creative photography and Photoshop I realised I was able to make this possible. I did an artist mentorship with Edgeware which inspired me to pursue the concept through grant funding from RADF and I realised that if I tie history and travel together it would give the project a wider appeal. Urbanisation is continually encroaching on natural landscapes and I wanted to inspire people to value and protect what we have left. So I created a series of photographs that brings the history of Moreton Bay’s natural landscapes to life, highlighting their natural beauty and hopefully inspiring others to visit these places and create their own stories, which they can share on my website.
The 'Land and I' project is a photographic series that brings stories inspired by local history and Indigenous culture to life using Australian landscapes as a backdrop, with the intention of highlighting places of natural beauty to instil a sense of community pride that ensures these spaces will be protected and treasured. She wants these works to become talking points for the community, inspiring others to visit these locations and make or share their own stories, photos and artworks, to leave a legacy for future generations that ultimately encourages a sense of belonging and promotes reverence for our natural environment, discover more here.
If you love her work, you can follow and connect with Hayley via: