Improving Your Image Through Visual Communications

Journalist - Photographer - Writer

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Matthew and Darren

Matthew (Left) and Darren

Darren and Matthew (Right)

Matthew (Left) and Darren

Saturday 26 May 2012

Stop the cuts to psychological services

By Darren Stones

Hi folks, I have rarely written about my personal experience of mental ill health, however as I become more willing to share my story in the public arena, I have in my heart the want to impress on how vital it is for affordable and accessible treatment.

I encourage you to sign the Stop the cuts to psychological services petition at, which was initiated by Perth-based psychologist Ben Mullings on behalf of the Alliance for Better Access. In doing so, you will be adding your voice to a cause that affects all Australians in one way or another.

From the petition:
"In November 2011, the Australian Government cut access to psychological services in the Better Access to Mental Health Care program down to just 10 appointments. Research has consistently shown that at least 15 to 20 sessions of brief therapy is the recommended minimum treatment."

I encourage you to view the campaign video that was created by Alison Fairleigh, Mental Health Advocate, and staff member with the Mental Illness Fellowship of North Queensland. I have my head in the video, so don't let that deter you from viewing it. :)

My experience of depression and anxiety was horrid. In 2009, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. From September 2009 to November 2011, I undertook therapy with my psychologist. Life has improved for me, and it's because of the support from my family and friends, an online network of people, and most importantly, a caring doctor and an awesome psychologist. Without affordable treatment, I do not know where I would be today. Who knows what might have happened.

I know of many people who currently do not have the strength to advocate, so being mindful of that, it's important we do our best to speak up and bring to the attention of the Australian government the basic need of affordable treatment. Those who cannot speak up at this point may gain strength by what we do. In time, they may share their stories and become advocates themselves. Let's hope so.

Please help send the petition and video viral because it's a cause that is quite simply worth fighting for. Thank you. :)

Friday 25 May 2012

Follow The Sun ...

By Darren Stones

I would like to share this beautiful song by Xavier Rudd. As a photographer, I can really connect with this.

Friday 18 May 2012

Entries close soon for 2012 Henry Lawson Festival Photography Competition

By Darren Stones

If you want to add your name to the list of photography statuette winners at the Henry Lawson Festival of Arts, you have until 5pm on Monday May 28, 2012 for your chance to do so.

Send your entries to:
Photography Coordinator
Colleen Gorman
The Henry Lawson Festival of Arts
PO Box 77
Grenfell NSW 2810

Categories include:
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Photojournalism/Documentary
  • Science and Nature
  • Abstract and Fine Art
  • Under 18
  • Local
  • Emerging Photographer

Denise Yates  - AIPP Accredited Member, Australian Institute of Professional Photography
Darren Stones - AIPP Accredited Member, Australian Institute of Professional Photography
Judging of all categories will take place in Grenfell NSW on Saturday June 2, 2012.

Darren Stones IMG_0484_Darren_Stones_Grenfell_2008_Award
Darren Stones
Winner of the 2008 Bronze Statuette for Photography
Henry Lawson Festival of Arts

Major Award
The Major Award is the prestigious Drover's Wife bronze statuette, and it's awarded to the highest scoring print and the overall winner of the competition, which may be the winner of any category. The statuette is sculptured by Michael Mandelc.

Exhibition Dates and Venue
Friday June 8 - Monday June 11, 2012.
117 Main Street, Grenfell NSW.

Award Presentation
Awards will be presented to winners of each category at the Civic Reception Cocktail Party on
Saturday June 9, 2012 from 6.30pm at the Grenfell Bowling Club, Cross Street, Grenfell NSW.

Further Information
The official entry form containing all information about the competition and exhibition is available at the Henry Lawson Festival website.

Awards achieved during May 2012 at Essendon Camera Club

By Darren Stones

Essendon Camera Club conducted their monthly photography competition for May on Monday May 14, 2012 at the club, and as a member, it was great fun to have two digital images entered in the Open Category and two entered in the Set Subject Category of "Weather".

Jean-Phillipe Weibel was most kind in visiting our club, and as guest judge on the night, his insightful commentary and advice was welcomed and appreciated by club members.

In the Open Category, Jean-Phillipe awarded me 2nd Place for Kite Surfing at Merimbula, and 4th Place for Dog Rocks.

Kite Surfing at Merimbula, New South Wales, Australia IMG_8470_Merimbula
Kite Surfing at Merimbula
Photo: Darren Stones
2nd Place Open Category

Dog Rocks, Batesford, Victoria, Australia IMG_4013-1_Dog Rocks
Dog Rocks
Photo: Darren Stones
4th Place Open Category

In the Set Subject Category "Weather", Jean-Phillipe awarded me 2nd Place for Coburg Lake Reserve.

Coburg Lake Reserve, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia IMG_6093_Coburg
Coburg Lake Reserve
Photo: Darren Stones
2nd Place Set Subject Category "Weather"

Having joined the Essendon Camera Club in March this year, this was my first opportunity to enter our club's competitions and I appreciate the opportunity. Club committee members generously give their time voluntarily to organise our competitions, and they really are to be congratulated for their fine efforts.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Essendon Camera Club inspires photographers of all levels

By Darren Stones

One of the great things about photography is the opportunity to be a member of a camera club. Like-minded people come together to share their photographs, photography experiences, and make new friends.

As a member of the Essendon Camera Club, I always learn by attending club meets and listening to guest presenters and judges. One can never know everything about photography, and I enjoy writing notes at meets as it helps me to better absorb the information and reflect on what was said.

Club membership has many benefits, and one of those is networking with photographers of various skill levels. I enjoy judging nights where guest judges kindly volunteer their time to offer their opinion about images and advise image makers on how to improve their images. It's fascinating stuff, and I always learn by the commentary and by viewing the images.

As a professional photographer, I enjoy listening to guest presenters because it does inspire me to better myself with the view of passing on my knowledge to photography enthusiasts.

If you live in Melbourne, and you are looking for a club to join, I encourage you to visit the Essendon Camera Club and enjoy what the club has to offer. I would be happy to meet you and introduce you to some club members.

Further information:

The Essendon Camera Club is located at Aberfeldie Baptist Church, 3-5 Price Street, Essendon. (Melway Pap 28 B4)

The club meets every second and fourth Monday of month, commencing at 8pm and concluding about 10pm.

Visitors are most welcome.

Saturday 12 May 2012

Places available for Henry Lawson Festival Photography Workshop

By Darren Stones

In four weeks I'll be hosting the 2012 Grenfell Festival Travel Photography Workshop in the New South Wales central-west town of Grenfell. I'm looking forward to assisting people to improve their photography skills during the 55th Henry Lawson Festival of Arts, plus also meeting some great people.

Listen to audio information about the 2012 Grenfell Festival Travel Photography Workshop.

Grenfell is a friendly town and the locals are very passionate about their festival, which attracts people from all around Australia. It is a real buzz to be involved this year, as I'll be volunteering time on Saturday June 2 to co-judge the photography competition with Grenfell-based professional photographer Denise Yates.

The photography workshop will be held on Saturday June 9 at 8.30am to 11.30am, and we'll meet outside the Grenfell Library at 8.10am for registrations and introductions. There are places available for the workshop, so check out my Workshops page for further information and book your place today.

2012 Grenfell Festival Travel Photography Workshop

Thursday 10 May 2012

How landscape photography affects the psyche

By Darren Stones

In August 2009 I had the pleasure of photographing the mighty Murrumbidgee River near Hay in New South Wales. I left Hay this particular morning and drove 38 kilometres east along the Sturt Highway until I reached the Mulberrygong Reserve. Most would not even see the sign and open gate to the reserve, but for me it was conspicuous because I was looking for an entry point that would allow me to reach a part of the river not often seen and photographed.

Murrumbidgee River, Hay, New South Wales, Australia, The Long Paddock IMG_5976_Hay
Murrumbidge River near Hay NSW
Photo: Darren Stones

It was a beautiful sunny day with a few clouds in the sky. No wind and just me out amongst nature with the birds chirping. The water level was low due to the drought, and because it was I had the opportunity to walk down the riverbank and get close to submerged logs. I looked around, noticed the stunning red riverbank on the bend in the distance and just literally stopped in my tracks. The experience had a profound effect on my psyche this day and it made me realise how much I enjoyed being out with my camera.

Murrumbidgee River, Hay, New South Wales, Australia, The Long Paddock   IMG_5987_Hay
Murrumbidgee River near Hay NSW
Photo: Darren Stones

After about half-an-hour, I began to better see the curves of the river, the lines of the submerged logs, and how the cloud was filling in patches of blue sky. I extended the legs of my tripod and began to move my camera around to different positions so I could work on my compositions. I almost slowed down the image-making process to slow motion as I allowed myself time to absorb the landscape. I felt attached to it, and set about making some photographs.

Murrumbidgee River, Hay, New South Wales, Australia, The Long Paddock IMG_5985_Hay
Murrumbidgee River near Hay NSW
Photo: Darren Stones

Upon finishing that shoot, I felt at ease with myself as a photographer. I would suggest to anyone that if you give yourself time to connect with the landscape, you will begin to better see what you are looking at. You will hear things such as the birds, insects, and the movement of leaves in the trees.

Murrumbidgee River, Hay, New South Wales, Australia, The Long Paddock IMG_5986_Hay
Murrumbidgee river near Hay NSW
Photo: Darren Stones

Our hectic lifestyles do impact upon the way we live. We do have to give ourselves permission to better connect with the landscape because I believe it does help with our sense of wellbeing.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Putting myself in the picture

By Darren Stones

Recently I visited the Coburg Lake Reserve in Melbourne's north and had a great time photographing the autumn colours. It was a relaxing time during a pleasant Sunday afternoon and a great opportunity to clear the cobwebs after a solid week of work and study.

Autumn really is a magnificent time of the year to photograph outdoors, and when it's overcast, that is an ideal opportunity to photograph deciduous trees as they change colour.

The even lighting conditions are perfect, because you won't have to battle with harsh shadows and high contrast situations.

I got a little creative with this scene and put myself in the picture. I set up my camera on my tripod, switched on the 10-second self-timer and just wandered over into the scene.

I chose to use this golden tree to create a framing effect by placing it on the right and excluding the top part of it. The fallen leaves have created a carpet of colour that also enhances the composition. I'm standing at a table, which has a chess board design incorporated into it.

Next time you're out with your camera and tripod, consider putting yourself in the picture.

Coburg Lake Reserve, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia IMG_6106_Coburg
Coburg Lake Reserve
Photo: Darren Stones

Friday 4 May 2012

Actively seeking to mentor a mental health client for a community health organisation

By Darren Stones

Hi folks, I am currently looking into well-established community health organisations that specifically assist their clients in regard to social inclusion. My aim is to mentor a client in Melbourne's north-west whereby the person gains in confidence and begins to actively participate in activities for the betterment of their health.

What this would entail is myself offering 1-2 hours per week on a voluntary basis. My particular emphasis will be in the area of mental health, coupled with utilising my photography and communications skills, various other interests I have, and the connections I have in the community.

I will let you know in due course how this pans out. I believe there are people hidden away in our communities who would benefit from this proactive approach. Social inclusion is of particular interest to me, so we'll see how this goes.

Bright, Victoria, Australia, Ovens River IMG_4606_Bright
Ovens River, Bright, Victoria
Photo: Darren Stones

Thursday 3 May 2012

Australian Institute of Professional Photography membership benefits

By Darren Stones
AIPP Accredited Member
Australian Institute of Professional Photography

Since joining the Australian Institute of Professional Photography AIPP in March this year, I've really enjoyed some of benefits of becoming a member.

The Continuing Development Program has been of particular interest, and being able to access content online that is aimed at assisting members to further developing professional skills is a brilliant idea.

It's been inspiring to watch the keynote address by Darren Jew, where he shares his personal photographic experiences and relates various aspects of his business.

The AIPP Decathlons are bright and breezy. Great snippets of information by award-awinning photographers presented in a most entertaining manner.

Since joining the AIPP, I've had the pleasure to view some brilliant photography at the Victoria Professional Photography Awards. I visited the AIPP headquarters in Box Hill on Tuesday April 18 to watch the judging of the Travel and Landscape photography categories. Stunning imagery, and the comments provided by the judging panel were insightful.

As an Accredited Member, the benefits include professional photography magazines including:
  • The Working Pro Magazine
  • Better Photography Magazine
  • Better Digital Magazine

A couple of weeks ago I received the Canon AIPP APPA book, which is a premium style book featuring award-winning images from the 2011 Australian Professional Photography Awards. Talk about stunning imagery, it is a magnificent publication showcasing the best photography from professional photographers. Just browsing through the book inspired me to go out for a personal photoshoot in my local area to photograph the colours of autumn.

Coburg Lake Reserve, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia IMG_6093_Coburg
Coburg Lake Reserve
Photo: Darren Stones

There's lots more benefits of being a member of the AIPP, so I invite you to check out the AIPP site and allow yourself to be photographically inspired. There are various categories of membership available, so consider joining today.

Further information:
Australian Institute of Professional Photography