Call­ing the shots


Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Q&A - Opens on Oc­to­ber 29 at Smar­tartz Gallery, Mel­bourne, and No­vem­ber 2 at Cus­toms House, Syd­ney; visit­flu­ence.

She’s more ac­cus­tomed to be­ing in front of the cam­era than be­hind it. But To­day show co-host Lisa Wilkinson is the one tak­ing the pho­tographs for a new ex­hi­bi­tion soon to open in Mel­bourne.

En­ti­tled Women of In­flu­ence, it show­cases in­spir­ing Aus­tralian women. Why this sub­ject? “I wanted to pho­to­graph women; I find our com­plex­ity fas­ci­nat­ing,” ex­plains Wilkinson. So when Canon, for which she’s an am­bas­sador, asked her to cre­ate an ex­hi­bi­tion, she drew up a wish list: “Women whose sto­ries I’ve al­ways found in­spi­ra­tional. It’s a bit like think­ing of your ideal din­ner party: a great mix of per­son­al­ity and styles and ages and sex­u­al­i­ties and re­li­gions. And blow me down if they didn’t all say yes!”

From reclu­sive arts pa­tron and heiress Gre­tel Packer (“I’ve known Gre­tel since she was 20 and came to work for me at Cleo – she’s a life­long friend”) through to ath­lete and burns sur­vivor Turia Pitt to ac­tor Asher Ked­die (“She’s the most exquisitel­y beau­ti­ful wo­man in ev­ery as­pect: gen­eros­ity, in­tel­lect… I have a mas­sive girl crush”), the ex­hi­bi­tion is a who’s who of ac­com­plish­ment, re­silience and grace. But Wilkinson’s in­tent isn’t solely to cap­ture her sub­jects.

“I’ve been in­cred­i­bly blessed in my ca­reer to have done dif­fer­ent things from mag­a­zines to ra­dio, print, on­line and TV, and I would en­cour­age oth­ers to push bound­aries, step out­side your com­fort zone and try new things. You might be pleas­antly sur­prised with what you can do.”

Right from her days as a mag­a­zine edi­tor, Wilkinson has al­ways loved pho­tog­ra­phy. She picked up a cam­era on her first trip over­seas to New York, aged 25, and soon be­came a keen am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher. “It’s purely been a hobby for years and years. But no one has ever seen my pho­tographs be­fore – apart from on In­sta­gram, which I love!”

Pas­sion­ate about so­cial me­dia as she is, Wilkinson wor­ries about its ef­fects. “I’ve got real con­cerns when kids who haven’t yet worked out who they are and their own self-worth go onto In­sta­gram. Just tak­ing self­ies and wait­ing to see if the world likes you has real is­sues. I didn’t let my kids go on un­til they were 16 – so­cial me­dia is some­thing par­ents re­ally have to be across be­cause it can de­stroy con­fi­dence if it’s not prop­erly man­aged.”

One thing she’s not wor­ried about, though, is the ex­hi­bi­tion’s re­cep­tion: “When I said yes to edit­ing Dolly at the age of 21, I knew a lot of peo­ple would be think­ing, ‘Who the hell does this trumped-up lit­tle typ­ist think she is?’ It was the same when I was asked to do the To­day show; I didn’t know if I could do 17 and a half hours of live tele­vi­sion a week, but I said, ‘At least I won’t die won­der­ing.’ It’s the same with this. This is some­thing I’ve se­cretly al­ways wanted to do. It was re­ally cre­atively chal­leng­ing but in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing.”

Are there more pho­tog­ra­phy ex­hi­bi­tions to come? “If this one goes well, I’d love to do more. I’m wise enough not to pre­sume; I’m just go­ing to sit back and wait and see what the re­ac­tion is – I re­ally hope it’s pos­i­tive. I think we’ve re­ally cap­tured the essence of these women, or I hope we have: I’ll let peo­ple be the judge of that.”

She does have at least one very happy cus­tomer. “When De­borra-lee [Fur­ness] saw her shots, she loved them so much she was send­ing them to Hugh [Jack­man] then and there. He loved them – he kept say­ing, ‘Send more! Send more!’” Women of In­flu­ence

“It’s some­thing I’ve se­cretly al­ways wanted to do... I won’t die won­der­ing”

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