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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Beach scene

by Andrew Maccoll, 1 February 2012

Photographer Andrew Maccoll tells the story behind his portrait of dual world champion pro surfer Mick Fanning.

Mick Fanning at Snapper Rock, 2010 Andrew Maccoll
Mick Fanning at Snapper Rock, 2010 Andrew Maccoll

In March 2010 I was flown to Queensland to shoot the opening of the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast. Being in the company of some of the world’s finest surfing talent was great opportunity to make portraits and Mick Fanning was the surfer that I really wanted to capture.

He is quite a hero to many Australians. Mick is a genuine, approachable guy and we arranged to meet at the beachfront to take some shots one afternoon. By the time we were ready to shoot the weather had changed from sunshine to dark, heavy clouds. My style is generally towards darker backgrounds so the conditions suited me perfectly.

Mick comes across as a very calm and confident person and it was these aspects of his personality that I wanted to convey in the portrait. It was important for me to keep the portrait minimalistic with a few supporting background features. Mick's gaze meets you immediately and although time was spent on composition this frame captured the perfect expression to portray his sincerity. The three rolling waves complement this look and the moody sky and dark sand shift the focus
back to his gaze.

I’m always thinking about symmetry and mathematical values. Perspective, angles, lines and ratios are a constant consideration when I position my subjects and I feel that although this happens mostly in my subconscious it all adds value to the final delivery of the subject’s emotional state to the viewer. I aim to enhance this emotional content by featuring supporting landscapes and reducing distracting elements. If I can take myself out of the equation and leave just this emotional connection between people viewing my images and the subject then I have been successful.

Related people

Mick Fanning AO

Related information

Portrait 42, February - May 2012

Magazine

This issue features Del Kathryn Barton, Renaissance Portraiture in New York, Australian impressionists, Nikki Toole’s Skater project, National Photographic Portrait Prize, Andrew Maccoll & Mick Fanning and more.

The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904

Beguiling impressions

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow

Sarah Engledow is seduced by the portraits and the connections between the artists and their subjects in the exhibition Impressions: Painting light and life.

Video still from Dream Job, 2011 by David M Thomas
Video still from Dream Job, 2011 by David M Thomas
Video still from Dream Job, 2011 by David M Thomas

My dream job

Magazine article by David Thomas

Artist David M Thomas lists some of the ideas and influences behind his video portraits.

Charles Summers, (late 1860s) Batchelder & Co. Photo
Charles Summers, (late 1860s) Batchelder & Co. Photo
Charles Summers, (late 1860s) Batchelder & Co. Photo

The importance of being bearded

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour

Joanna Gilmour discovers that the beards of the ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills were as epic as their expedition to traverse Australia from south to north.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.