As one of WA’s top photographers, Frances Andrijich is constantly in pursuit of the elusive ‘perfect image’. From shooting on the pristine beaches of Margaret River, to enduring 40-degree heat up in the Kimberley shooting the Bardi Jawi Rangers, Frances’ portfolio offers a collective portrait of WA, capturing the ever-changing relationships between people, communities and landscapes.
Her work has been featured in campaigns and on the covers of leading magazines such as Australian Geographic, Gourmet Traveller, Halliday Magazine, The New York Times and The Australian. Having received numerous prestigious photography awards, she has published 11 books, and exhibits regularly.
To Frances, every corner of WA offers its own captivating beauty, whether it’s the Pindan red earth in the north or the charming vineyards and Karri forests of the Southwest.
“They are poles apart, the far north and south of this state. Yet they share a vastness, a heady sense of space – and a striking sparsity of population,” she says.
We asked Frances to share some of the stories behind her most iconic shots, captured from her travels throughout WA.
Boranup Forest, Margaret River
I’m fortunate enough to work in the beautiful environs of Margaret River for a number of months each year. Because of the magical vistas it’s a place I’m always drawn to. The changing seasons never fail to provide new delights. The Boranup Forest is one of those special places. I love its serene stillness and its haunting beauty. The tall, slim tree trunks reach up to the sky and the verdant green provides a tranquillity that calls me back each visit.
Super moon, Bunkers Beach
I enjoyed the memorable walk to capture the right angle across deep sand at the end of the day, knowing that the moon would rise above this exact spot. I sought out the best place to shoot the super moon when I was in Margaret River that week. It proved to be very much worth the effort as I managed to track precisely where the moon would rise and where it hadn’t been photographed before. It was worth it. I was rewarded by the magical super moon – an enchanting vista.
The last thing one would expect to see in a vast, golden field of flowering canola would be a man coaxing a veil to fly over a giant stiletto the iconic image from the feature film, ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.’ But there he was: local carpenter Colin Hughes, looking for all the world like he was fly-fishing! It was a story for a magazine about the owner of the shoe trying to look like Priscilla. Colin – the partner of the person I was photographing – was in the act of setting up the shot using a fishing line and the unexpected happened: I saw my photograph! I always find the most fun part is capturing quirky spur-of-the moment photographs the most fun.
Pelican taking flight, Woodman Point
Woodman Point holds a special place in my heart. My father spent countless hours fishing from this rocky shoreline. It was his favourite location. I was shooting this for a book on Perth for Fremantle Press. I was attracted to revisit because the many Croatian men who still fish there, remind me of my father. As I clambered over the sharp, rocky outcrops I saw a magnificent pelican. As I neared the bird something special happened. It spread its majestic wings and took flight. I managed to capture that very moment. It’s ironic to me that I went there because of a treasured memory and came away with this photograph.
Karijini National Park, Pilbara
Planet earth has many celebrated canyons and gorges but the little known Karijini deserves far greater recognition. One photograph cannot do the complex intersections of these natural features justice. Restless, meandering waters have carved out the gorges over millennia and the sheer, steep walls lead far down to cool, tranquil pools. The ancient weathered land is breathtakingly beautiful. This photograph – a private commission – was taken from Oxer Lookout where the Hancock, Weano, Red and Joffre Gorges meet. Junction Pool lies a hundred metres below. It was taken at dawn and I was fortunate to be there during a spectacular sunrise. The photograph is a composite of different sections of the image. What the eye sees and what the camera can capture needs the work of post-work later. Most of my landscapes don’t involve re-touch but I wouldn’t have been able to produce this shot without complex re-touch.
Osmington, Margaret River Wine Region
Like many photographers I have a drone and it’s replaced the need to hire expensive planes and helicopters. But what I miss most about shooting now is the flexibility of using long lenses and polarising filters and the excitement of being able to shoot instinctively with your eye. There’s also the thrill of being in a light plane with the doors off and leaning far out into thin air! Aerial shots of the farmland and forest at Osmington reveal low, rolling hills… verdant green…wisps of morning mist…unseen by the land-bound people below.
Aerial over the Murchison River
The rains came. The river flowed. And the red earth suddenly burst into life. Patches of fertile green reclaimed their place in the stunning Murchison landscape. From the air thin fingers of life-giving water were revealed coursing through the red dust and generating patches of green. At last the protracted drought – which had baked the red earth dry – had broken! Once again iridescent green had won the never-ending battle against the crimson earth.
Bridgetown, South West
I was on a commission in the Great Southern shooting for a winery and was called back to Margaret River because Moss Wood Winery cabernet sauvignon was ready to be picked. I travelled through Bridgetown and stayed over, as I never want to miss an opportunity wherever I am to take pictures. And I was absolutely rewarded when Bridgetown turned on one of its misty mornings. I gazed in awe at the breathtakingly tall, slender trunks, silhouettes like ghosts fleetingly glimpsed through the morning mist. The South West never disappoints.
Town Beach, Broome
I’ve been to Broome countless times over many decades and I believe it really is a special place. The locals call it ‘Broome time’ but I find myself working harder there than anywhere else as there are so many things that catch my eye. It’s a joy to just walk around Broome, camera in hand, and inevitably an opportunity for a photograph presents itself. Its rich with amazing images…there’s always something to capture. And perhaps the most inviting is Town Beach. Its sculpted by the restless ocean tides and etched in golden hues by the ceaseless tides. Countless mud crabs leave their mark in the sand as they scuttle across the sand. Something as simple as this delights me and I was pleased as it resembles an abstract painting.
Wimmera Farm, Dalwallinu, Central Wheatbelt
I was on a shoot for a magazine about a man with a most unusual hobby. Jim Sawyer is an avid collector of windmills. After spending an afternoon photographing his collection I captured this shot at twilight. For those in the know it’s a Comet windmill from circa 1940, highly prized among windmill connoisseurs! I love the towering night sky and crystal-clear stars shining down upon this historic piece of metal.
Lake Beedelup, Karri Valley, Pemberton
I must confess that I’m always seduced by the opportunity to photograph in mist or fog. Suddenly the ordinary becomes magical! I was shooting in Pemberton for nearly a week and there had been no mist at all. On my last morning before getting ready to return to Perth: bingo! There was my mist! I was I focussed on the silent sentinel of eucalyptus trees mirrored in the still waters of the lake topped by a carpet of green canopy.
The hauntingly beautiful Salmon Beach, Windy Harbour faces a lonely sea that stretches far, far out to distant Antarctica. It’s a quirky, special, amazing little place where the residents live in quaint small huts. A secret that not many know: it has one of the most beautiful beaches in Western Australia. I adore its uniqueness and wildness and when the gigantic storms blow in one feels the fury of nature. For many years I’ve photographed the shacks that are a feature of Cockburn Beach and the dwellings at Windy Harbour have a similar feel. I was commissioned by Australia’s South West and I would love to go back there one day.