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Max Dupain part one

In their own words

Recorded 1975

Max Dupain part one
Audio: 2 minutes

I’ve been asked if I have any favourite pictures of my own. I have to say no. And I looked through the catalogue of the retrospective exhibition just to check, and I find that all these pictures that I have in this show, 81 out of about 4,000, represent my responses to the environment in which I find myself, and that’s all there is to it. There’s nothing world-shattering in any of these shots, they are just a simple and largely emotional response to an environment. Just little things: there might be grass growing in the sand, it might be a person, it might be a landscape at dusk, it might be an industrial operation at night. But this is my world. And I have no favourites. I just hope and worked towards the end that photography to me is my way of expressing my personal response to my environment. And that’s all there is to it.

Just by way of a diversion, there’s a picture in the exhibition called The Meat Queue, which is a very good example of how lucky can you be. It consists of four or five old mums in a meat queue just after the war, in Sydney. I was doing a story on queues for the Department of Information at the time. I was in this butcher’s shop and I just suddenly saw this action, and it was all over in a fraction of a second. There’s movement in it, there’s a lot of intense feeling on the faces of these people, these women, and it has been one of the most, one of the favourite pictures in this show. But just sheer luck. There were half a dozen other photographs taken of this queuing operation in this butcher’s shop at the time and not one of them are anything like this one.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Max Dupain is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Audio source

National Library of Australia, Hazel de Berg collection

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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