Gina Cawley


Gina Cawley is a British photographer currently living and working in Melbourne. Gina’s photography focuses on landscape, movement and human connection and explores themes of identity and a delicate relationship between the natural world and the human body.
We chat to Gina about her life and work and her upcoming exhibition “Confluence” opening on Thursday August 16th at Kau & Co. Northcote which Prism Imaging have proudly sponsored.
Hi Gina, can you use 3 words to describe yourself?
Passionate, curious and cheeky.

Can you tell us about your creative journey?

‘Journey’ is a great word as I’m constantly learning and evolving with every shoot I do; that’s what I enjoy the most about my practice.

From as young as I can remember, I was always sticking empty boxes together, gluing feathers and sequins onto everything and drawing. I studied fine art and sculpture at the College of Art, which influences a lot of my imagery. After studying Photography at RMIT, I’d definitely say that my work has changed for the better. I feel a lot more connected to the work I’m creating now as I pursue projects and photograph subject matter that I love.

How would you describe your work?

I tend to focus on details and like to capture the vulnerable, delicate nature of things, as well as the strength. This is why I’m drawn to botanicals and landscapes; natural structures like leaves, petals and even mountains or riverbeds are built up of complex, intricate systems. The exact same principles apply when I photograph portraits or people.

What is your creative process and where do you draw inspiration from?

Most of my ideas stem from something I see, a single thought or a conversation I’m having. There’s a large research element to my personal practice, especially my documentary work, where it could be weeks or months before I even start shooting.

I find it really helpful to create mood boards and have a rough shot list before any shoot; this helps me figure out the colours, what kind of lighting conditions I need and what the overall feel for the set will be. When shooting people, the way I work within a set is quite particular, up until the last minute when I incorporate it in my subject. I like to give people the freedom to get comfortable, move their bodies, experiment and interact with their surroundings, as much as I can.

When selecting images, it’s a very instinctual process; those unplanned, transient moments where someone is rendered off-guard, are for me, most captivating.

You have said in the past, ‘I might like to shoot brands or clothing but it is more as an act of art’ and true to form, your works within the fashion realm are considered, delicate, sensual and conceptual. How do you come up with ideas and how do you negotiate your vision amongst other creatives ie designers, models etc…?

When collaborating with other creatives, lots of wonderful ideas are brought together. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing designers who’ve given me free rein to realise my vision for a shoot. Others however, come to me with an idea, which we then develop together; communication within any creative team is very important.

I’ve always been a conceptual thinker; before I even begin to consider the visuals like; styling, lighting, location and models. Within a fashion context, I look for the same things that I would look for within a portrait or landscape. I aim to capture emotion, letting a moment unfold naturally. I pick out textures, details, shapes, graphical elements or prints. The art of looking itself, usually triggers an idea which I then hone in on or magnify.

You aim to capture sculptural parallels and intricate connections between our bodies and the land; when one looks at your work a sense of quiet takes over. Personally to me, your work feels poetic. What response do you want to elicit from viewers of your art?

Poetry is also one of the creative outlets I enjoy most; I have always been a huge supporter of spoken word. Poetry has the power not only to communicate a narrative, but it’s also very visual and often plays with metaphor, which I find immensely beautiful.

A lot of the landscapes featured within my work are secluded, serene, uninhabited and tranquil, as these are the places I seek out and immerse myself in. However in my day-to-day city life, I have a full calendar and a vibrant, flamboyant, energetic personality.

If I’m honest, I don’t have others in mind when I press the shutter. I take photographs as and when something presents itself to me, I pick photographs that stand truest to the emotion within the original moment.

Landscapes feature in your work. Do you travel to locations and let things emerge or do you location scout in advance?

As a devoted traveller, you’ll frequently find me camping in the back of the car on long road trips. On the road, I always have my camera with me, to take photos of both the landscapes and friends. If I location scout for a particular shoot I have coming up, I usually pick lakes, coastline or botanical gardens. It’s been an exciting few years for me, travelling Australia and New Zealand, as I grew up in the UK where the landscapes are very different to here. My parents greatly influenced my love of travel, I’ve been lucky enough to explore new places with them ever since I was old enough to walk; overseas and around Europe.

You are preparing to exhibit soon. What are you looking for in the printed version of your work? Does this influence the way you edit?

I’m super excited to see the finished prints; mounted and framed! I think there’s a greater appreciation for photographs in print form and I’m eager to share the work for the first time. The scale of a photograph is definitely important when exhibiting; evaluating the type of images you’re displaying and the size of the space.

Can you tell us about your upcoming exhibition ‘Confluence’, what it is about and what inspired you to create the works.

‘Confluence’ is a series of Seascapes and figurative images, from Australia, Canada and New Zealand. I’ve documented the space where land and sea meet and how the human form mirrors our natural world. I’m instinctively drawn to water, fascinated by its movement, the way light reflects and refracts from its surface and how it so rapidly changes form.

Opening night is Thursday August 16th at Kau & Co. Northcote, running until mid September.


Questions by Stella Nguyen 

Edited by Georgia Quinn

Photography by Gina Cawley