Best photos for 2023

It’s that time of the year when I’m on leave and archiving off all of my photos from last year onto external hard-drives, so it’s time to dive into my favourite 23 photos from last year.
These are in no particular order, as I’m far too lazy to rank them.

The smiling assassin

Wombat at Wilson's Prom

I was out for an early evening stroll at Wilson’s Prom when I rounded a corner to see this handsome devil on the path ahead.
Instead of heading towards them (and potentially scaring them off), I took a punt on where they were heading next and got myself set up. Lo and behold, they headed in my direction, and came up so close that they briefly looked like they were going to take a chomp out of my lens.
Did I ask for the shy smile? No. Am I taking full credit for it? Yes…yes I am.

Right leg kick-through

There is nothing better than discovering a subculture. Last year I started doing ‘Animal Flow’, which is basically a series of moves based on different animals. If you imagine a group of gymnasts, and a group of Cross-fit types meeting at a zoo and trying to torture each other…then you’re not far off.
On this day, Alisha Smith was down in Melbourne to test some instructors and run some classes. Given the choice between doing the class…and taking photos of people doing the class, I chose taking photos.
One of the upsides to having done some of the classes was knowing when the best moments were going to be to take a shot…and then having someone with such perfect technique to make it look easy.

Cycling in Vietnam

In what I think will be a bit of theme in this year’s photos…we went to Vietnam! As part of it we rode for 4 days through rice paddies and rocky outcrops. We also rode through about 3.98 days of rain, so I love that this photo captures both the beautiful vistas we were travelling through, as well as the constant spray of mud up the back our jackets!
Shooting on a GoPro while riding does involve a degree of taking a photo and hoping for the best…and with the lens so wide, you really need to be pedalling hard to keep the person in front of you as the focus, but this sort of scenery can make up for a what you’ve missed in the foreground.

The Bridal Waltz

The Bridal waltz

Going to a wedding of your friends in your 20’s can be a slightly tense experience. There is a LOT of pressure to not screw anything up (this is the BEST day of their lives after all), and so people are often too nervous to actually be themselves.
But weddings of people in their 40’s are usually a lot more relaxed. It’s often a second go at a wedding for those involved…and so they’re there to have fun. This may mean that what looked liked a speech, devolves into the bridal party swarming onto the dancefloor to recreate the zombie dance sequence from ‘Thriller’, and then whisking the bride away.
A good photographer will be able to capture that moment (and may even be brave enough to drag the shutter to capture the movement as well). A bad photographer won’t know what’s happening as the Bridal party swarms towards them and very nearly gets in the way of a choreographed dance sequence.
I will do both.

On the buses

We were on a bus in Vietnam driving over a mountain range. The fog outside was so heavy that we could hardly see more the 5 metres in front of us…but it did make for some amzing diffused light. Just as I was taking a photo of the bus, Xav turned around in front of me, and I snapped this pic.
I know that if I had tried to pose this, it would never have worked, but sometimes the photography gods smile on you.

The farmer is strong in him

Every year we head to my Uncle Pat’s farm for an early Christmas get together. We’ve been there in drought and in windy heat, but this year everything was green and growing. On the traditional post-lunch walk I snapped this pic of one of my cousin’s sons. His dad is a farmer…and the stance, and look of wary concern is clearly genetic.

Hanoi streets

I know what you’re thinking…’Chris, it’s been an entire photo since you’ve shown-off about being in Vietnam!’ Well fear not…we’re back.
I think I really like this photo because it shows me that I’m learning. This street corner in Hanoi was definitely photogenic. But I chose to wait until some people walked into the shot (to give it an extra element of interest), I got down low to change the perspective, and when I did that I remembered not cut off that light in the top left of the image (that’s the sort of thing I would have missed in the past, and been furious with myself later).

On the way to Fairy Cove

While I may have had my nice Fuji for the photo of the wombat…I definitely wasn’t lugging it along for this hike to Fairy Cove. Which I thought I was going to regret, as the early morning light revealed this vista of the Derby River.
Thankfully, the iPhone is a pretty impressive beast, and this was the result.

Post race

Many moons ago there was a photographer taking super-shallow, close up portraits of cyclists after the big 1-day races in Europe. I really liked them as there was invariably one happy person…and a LOT of very broken and exhausted people.
This photo was taken after a loooong morning of riding in a combination of the rain and the Vietnamese countryside. We had just arrived at the spot where a bus was picking us up to drive to the next location…and the bus driver was making it clear that our filth was not a great addition to his clean bus. So while negotiations raged between him and our tour guide, I snapped this photo of Josh.
As a complete aside, our guide had told us the night before our first day of riding that he was preparing some special ‘lamb juice’ for us. He insisted that this was always very popular with cycling tours, and had a lot of salt and other minerals added to it.
It’s fair to say that up until that point I had not seen a single sheep in Vietnam…and was certainly not sure how ‘lamb juice’ was going to help our cycling. But maybe it was some form of ‘bone broth’? Either way, it’s a testament to Aussie politeness, that at our first drink stop when he showed us a water cooler full of ‘lamb juice’, quite a few of us were willing to give it a shot.
It turned out to be ‘lime juice’…and was indeed delicious.

Street portrait

As the negotiations between the tour guide and the bus driver continued loudly in a tiny town on the way to Ninh Binh, this guy arrived on his scooter. The sight of a group of mud-spattered Australians standing around a bus was clearly the best thing he’d seen all day. I did my best to ask if I could take his photo in Vietnamese, but his laughter implied that I had not done this. Through a lot of laughs he said 3-4 words in English, and I think one of them was ‘lunch’…so I realised that charades was going to be the winner again. I pointed at my camera and then pointed at him with my face doing it’s best to convey that this was a question. He laughed again and nodded, and so I snapped a few shots. The colours, especially with the flag in the background, were great, but the black and white was my fave.
I won’t lie, my first instict was to just snap off a few surreptitious shots without him noticing. But I think a really important part of taking photos is connecting with people, and you won’t do that snapping off photos of people when they’re unaware. Plus, watching each other destroy the other person’s language was a great bonding experience for the two of us.

Early evening swim

As a family we have always had a pretty clear beach schedule; the mornings hold an optional walk or surf (if the waves are good), then lunch, then an early arvo beach session, then a cup of tea, then dinner, then the News and eventually bed. At no stage was a post-dinner dip in the ocean an option.
Then my wildcard wife Katie threw it in as an option, and it is now a family favourite. Now clearly, after hours swimming means you’re there without any lifeguards, so there is a presumption that you only swim when it’s safe to do so. But the rewards are pretty epic. The wind has normally died down, so the waves are clean. Any warmth from the day is still in the water, and the setting sun looks amazing through the cresting waves. All you need now is a GoPro to capture a few shots!

Vietnamese landscapes

I imagine that if I had grown up in Vietnam and I saw someone get off their bike (and therefore consign themselves to at least 20 minutes of furious pedalling to catch back up to the group) to take a photo of the landscape, I may well have said ‘What on earth are you doing? It’s just a misty mountain range, with some rice paddies in the mid-ground and a yellow road winding towards them in the foreground!! Why are you wasting your time, when you’ve grown up with the majesty of Bell Street in your life? How can this even compare?!’
But that’s just the joy of being a tourist, everything is new and interesting. Either way, I’m really glad I did jump off the bike to take this photo. Interestingly I took this photo and then thought ‘I bet the composition would be even better if the road was in the centre leading away from the viewer’…it was not.

Fiddler in the spotlight

My daughter had a role in a local theatre production of Fiddler on the Roof. As part of the show, Tevye was walking through the audience behind the fiddler with just a single spotlight on them. I would love to say I planned this composition, and the downcast look from Tevye, but I really just got lucky.

Ha Long Bay

As part of our trip in Vietnam we spent a night on a ship in Ha Long Bay and did some activities out there. For some reason, I thought this activity was going to involve us going somewhere in kayaks, so I just packed the GoPro. But it turns out we were going for a hike through some incredible caves, and then emerging to this stunning view of the bay. ‘Oh excellent!’ I thought ‘I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve brought the camera that is pretty much designed to be strapped to the chest of someone hurtling down a mountain on a bike, or skiis, or Grizzly Bear. Instead of…say…the camera back on the boat with all of the lenses.’
But sometimes you just have to play the hand you’ve dealt yourself, and so I took this photo on the GoPro, and it’s actually a LOT wider than I would have taken normally, but works really well.

Black and white and prog-rock all over

I really love photography, and I really love live music, and I really love teaching people about photography. So last year I did a photo workshop where I talked about the fundamentals of live music photography, and then headed to a gig where Psi-Phi were playing to put the theory into practice.
This is one shot that I took that I was super happy with. I love the glow being cast by the overhead lights, and the way it looks like it’s those lights that are illuminating Ryan’s face.
Pretty sure that’s a can of Heaps Normal in the centre of the frame…so I’m also very happy for this to be used in some form of advertising campaign.

I’m on the nightrain.

In a beautiful homage to 1980’s era Guns n Roses, we caught the nightrain from Hanoi to Da Nang. This photo was taken on the morning we were arriving at Da Nang. We were snaking our way through green forests, with sea visible down below. I was trying to replicate photos I’ve seen where outside is a blur while inside is a still-life. But you had to hold the windows down as they were springloaded to close, so trying to co-ordinate a long exposure while also holding down the window, while also making sure you didn’t fall victim to some sort of errant pole or sign or tunnel as you stuck your elbow out of the train and looked in the opposite direction, was tricky.
So I got Xav to hold down the window and act as my ‘here comes a tunnel’ warning system, and snapped this shot.
On an unrelated note, every now and then a cascade of water would come off the roof of the train and down into the open windows. It wasn’t raining…and we were close to the toilets…I really hope the dots I joined were incorrect.

Let there be Rock!

I think I can pretty much divide my selections for this year into two categories; Vietnam, and Live Music…and to be honest, I’m pretty comfortable with that.
This shot was taken at Doggerell’s album launch at Shotkickers in Thornbury. Now live music photography can be tricky, but if you’ve got someone with the stage presence of Keir (on the Dobro here) and the lighting of Rosie at Shotkickers, then you’re job is pretty much just waiting for the moment to happen and then capturing it.
As part of my ‘Yeah, but how did photographers with just 12 shots on a roll of film ever actually survive’ series, I can assure you that the 5 photos before this, and the 6 after were magnificent examples of me ‘not capturing it’…but it doesn’t matter, because I got this one!

Self portrait…of someone else.

In our last night in Hoi An, Josh and I went out to take some photos. Outside where we were staying there was a bus-stop style illuminated ad that was throwing out a lot of light. So Josh and I took turns standing in front of it and using it to illuminate ourselves, without losing the lights of the town behind.
I love the colours in this, and look of metal on the camera…I also love that it looks like some modern version of a Vivian Maier self-portrait in a mirror or shop window.

He’s not terrifying, he’s my son.

We were spending a family weekend at Point Lonsdale, and I dragged our youngest out to take some photos of the lighthouse there. Lighthouses (or ‘Lightheese’, as I believe is the correct way to say the plural), can look bloody amazing…or they can look ‘kinda fine…I guess’, and this photoshoot was falling very much into the second category, so we headed down onto a nearby pier. While we were there, there was another photographer taking photos looking out to sea. I looked out there, but couldn’t for the life of me see what he was taking photos of. Then he said ‘Have you seen the Aurora?’ and showed me the screen on his camera. Lo and behold, there it was, the Aurora Australis! It wasn’t visible to the naked eye, but with a few seconds of exposure it suddenly appeared.
I took a number of photos, and they were all pretty good…then I took this photo of Xavier looking like something that was going to haunt my dreams…and I preferred it to all of the photos of the Aurora. Photography is a funny game sometimes.

Beer goggles

I’ve had the pleasure of taking photos of Danny Ross on numerous occasions. One of the many upsides to this is that I’m now pretty comfortable trying new things when I take photos of him performing.
This shot was taken with an empty beer glass being held in front of the lens to distort the image. I know that this could have just as easily been done in Photoshop, and I could probably have done it in AI and never even left my house…but I got to see a great gig, drink a beer, and then take this photo. So I reckon I won this one.


Any time you take a portrait of a person, you ultimately want to capture an image that conveys the essence of that person. When you give them posing suggestions, it can usually go one of two ways; you make them do something that is so disengenous that you lose any chance of getting a natural shot, or the very act of trying something different unlocks a moment where they forget they’re being photographed.
I love this shot, because it’s how I see Holly; happy, confident and enigmatic.

Give the drummer some more

There have been numerous occasions where I’ve had to explain to a drummer after a gig, that while I got some great shots of the singer and guitarist, my photos of them pretty much suck. This isn’t entirely my fault. Drummers invariably hang out at the back of the stage where the lighting is crap, and they surround themselves with things that make it super tricky to get a clean shot.
So when I got the chance to take photos for ZOJ at their Melbourne Recital Centre gig, I was super pumped to take photos during their rehearsal, where I had free-rein to get as close to Brian (the drummer) as I wanted, without becoming a distraction to him or the audience.
It’s worth noting that I don’t even know what he’s using as a drumstick in his right hand, but his left hand is playing some bells on a string. In another shot he has a singing bowl in one hand and is moving a marble inside to get a resonating ring…and he’s only half the band!

The Prom

I won’t lie. When I decided to do 23 photos for this post…I kinda forgot that I was going to have write about each one. So this has taken a LOT LONGER than I was anticipating.
With that in mind, I chose this one because I think that if someone else had shown it to me I would have said ‘I wish I’d taken that shot, it’s really atmospheric’.
But I did take it, so now we can all stop reading and writing and get back to whatever it was that we were meant to be doing before I embarked on a 23 photojournalism saga.
See you again for 2024!

The nightwatchman

For those of you not living somewhere the English colonised, or without an interest in Cricket…it’s pretty important for you to know what a ‘nightwatchman’ is in Cricket.
So brace yourself for a paragraph of Cricket talk…but I promise it will get interesting after that.

In Test Cricket, the 4 or 5 day version of the game (sadly yes…there is a sport that goes for 5 days. And yes, even more sadly, it can sometimes end in a draw after 5 days), if a batting team loses a wicket with not much time left in the day’s play, they will often send in a ‘nightwatchman’. This is someone who is further down the list in terms of batting skills than the person who was meant to be coming in to bat. The logic is, it’s better to save the person with the good batting skills for the next day when they can start fresh, than run the risk of exposing them to a few overs at the end of the day.
So the role of the nightwatchman is basically to not lose their wicket. If they want to score some runs, great! But ultimately, they will be seen to be doing their job, if they just occupy the crease until the end of the day.

So why am I giving you a fascinating insight into the nomenclature of a Cricketing term? Becuase there is a workplace equivalent…and it happens over the Christmas/New Year’s period, when senior people in an organisation take a holiday and someone needs to fill their position while they’re gone.
Now clearly ‘backfilling a role’ is something that happens through-out the year, so why is the Christmas/New Year’s break different? Well, becuase it’s a rare time of the year when a lot of people go on holiday, so the usual demands and stresses are alleviated…and the talent pool available to act in roles is greatly diminished. Or as I like to see it, ‘Chris’s time to shine!’

For as long as I’ve worked in the public service, I’ve tried to help out by backfilling these roles, and being a nightwatchman…so I thought I’d talk about some of the reasons why.


Speaking as someone who usually exhausts their annual leave balance by the end of the year, and who took long-service leave as soon I could, I think it’s fair to say that I think that time away from work is a really good thing. You’re not an ’employee’ you’re a ‘person’, and time away from work helps you remember that. Best of all, a good holiday will usually see you return to work invigorated and with a new perspective you can bring to projects.
Sadly, quite often, the further up the ‘org chart’ your job resides, the harder it is to take a proper break. Meaning that people who really need invigoration and new perspectives, often find excuses as to why they ‘just can’t take a holiday right now…not with *insert name of project that seems important right now to a few people, but really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things…and will most likely still be there when you get back from any holiday you take* so close to rolling out’.
But the two weeks after Christmas are a time when everyone expects people to go on leave…all your boss, or boss’s boss, needs is a safe pair of hands to hold the fort while they’re away.
They don’t need someone to make ground-breaking decisions, or try to do their job better than them…they just need someone to be there if needed. And I’m very happy to be that person.

Purely selfish

If you like people starting emails with ‘Thanks for getting back to me’, then you’re going to love the way people treat any form of email that you send when you’ve updated your email signature to ‘A/Important Person’.
You will also get to work and talk with people who have decision making power within your organisation, and that can be great for future prospects.
You will also most likely be paid more while you’re acting in the role.
You can update your LinkedIn profile with the new job title, and that will trigger notifications being sent to your network suggesting people congratulate you on the new job. Although, rest assured, if you’re filling in that role for anything less than 6 months and updating your job title on LinkedIn…I am judging you.


If you’re the ambitious type, who is always looking at the next step on the career ladder, then acting in your boss’s role can you give you an insight into what’s required if you want to move into the role when the opportunity presents itself.
Alternatively, if like me, you’ve come to realise that each step up the career ladder leads to a reduction in hands-on creativity, and more importantly, less time in your day to do things you actually want to do (spend time with your family, exercise, not spend time in meetings that clearly could have been emails, etc). Then acting in a role above you for a few weeks, can be a wonderful reminder of exactly why you don’t want to take the next step up the org chart.


You only grow by challenging yourself…but you also don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. So taking on a new job can be like signing up for a half-marathon, whereas acting in a role over Christmas/New Years is more like doing a Parkrun, it’s a challenge, but you’re never more than 5km away from the finish.

The downside

Of course, there are times when the proverbial hits the fan…and suddenly you’re in the hot-seat (or at least a seat closer to the heat than you would normally be). While acting in other roles I’ve had to deal with everything from bushfires, floods, & COVID restrictions, to Premiers wanting to send an email to all staff on New Year’s Eve (I’d booked a table at a restuarant for the whole family at 7pm and was still desperately trying to co-ordinate things from my mobile as the food arrived) and a change of name for our Department that required every document, template and webpage to be updated with the new logo (good times…good times).
You will also have to make the choice between heading in to the office and facing the appalling coffee offerings available when the baristas of the world are on holiday, or staying at home and being the sad person sitting on their computer all day while the rest of the household is on holiday.

So if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, or if you want to help your boss out, or even if you want to see if you can survive on Nescafe Blend 43 for a few weeks. Then I highly recommend taking up the option of acting in a role over the Christmas/New Year’s period…I’d go into more detail, but I’m on holiday now while the rest of you suckers are back at work, which is of course the other massive upside to working over Christmas / New Years!