Every time I see a photographer use the dispersion effect I always think how it’d work really well with bats. With a bat theme in mind I set out to photograph a cave, settling on Kweebani Cave at Binna Burra National Park. I photographed myself in costume in my garage and Frankenstein-ed different body parts, hair, dress and cape flicks to make the final girl. I composited in a moon and a new sky from photos I’d shot separately. To create the bats I used different bat brushes found on DeviantArt and the dispersion effect, which you can learn about at http://www.exposingillusions.com
That’s how the Brisbane photographer describes the process involved in putting together her digitally manipulated photograph bearing the title of this piece. Similar ‘how tos’ can be found for many of her images at the listed URL. Her own website is fascinating as well, with links to her blog.
But it wasn’t that particular image that first took me to her. That one was of a mermaid in a purple-scaled sheath, seaweed clutched to her breasts, seemingly stranded beneath a wreck of a vessel, birds circling. When I investigated further I was strangely surprised that the creator of these surprising images – deliberate repetition there for effect – was Australian. No doubt I shouldn’t of been, but I’d recently been immersed in so many European stylists of similar ilk I was genuinely delighted to discover a local contributor. Perhaps I’m showing my age; my world had its formative years in the cultural cringe. Anyway, it is obvious that Hayley Roberts is extremely skilled in the magicking of her wonderful illusions. Books taking flight from library shelves as a white clad feminine form approaches down an aisle; a young lady of indiscriminate age wiping away a tear as a clipper ship commences its descent to Davy Jones in a very contained sea; a fairy on a unicorn taking a chilly rest-stop at Winterglen, with dragon in attendance are only a few examples of her engaging inventiveness.
One can see Tim Burton and Shaun Tan in all of this and Ms Roberts does note that they have influenced her oeuvre. But the photos she produces are decidedly stamped with her own individual imprint.
It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that she is also under the spell of the possibilities that Photoshop allows for as she pays homage to concepts evoked by magic realism. Hayley, like many, in no way suspected she had the wherewithal to be in any way creative, but her increasing mastery of camerasmithing has enabled her to push the envelope away from her staples – event and nature photography. So now she knows how to tantalise her viewer with her eerily beguiling visual world. Ms Roberts is yet to make a full-time living from her artistic pursuit, working part-time, surrounded by her other great love, in a library. Her dream is to be in a position ‘...to travel around Australia taking creative portraits in rural and iconic locations.’ As she says,’…finding your passion makes anything possible.’
Hayley Roberts’ website = http://hayleyrobertsphoto.com/