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Central Australian trek photography highlights domestic violence campaign

Fiona Lockhart standing with her photography

Winding its way between Alice Springs and Mount Sonder, the Larapinta Trail is a landscape photographer's dream, but for photographer Fiona Lockhart this trek with eleven other women was the backdrop for initiating a conversation about a serious issue.

The travelling group were brought together by 2015 Australian of the Year and domestic violence campaigner, Rosie Batty, to raise money and awareness for her charity, the Luke Batty Foundation.

Since the death of her son at the hands of his father, Ms Batty has been a leader in exposing Australia’s problem with domestic violence.

Like many Australians, Fiona was shocked when she heard the statistics: “One or two women a week die from domestic violence… that is an horrific statistic, you wouldn’t expect that would happen in Australia.”

Fiona, who was born and bred in Ballarat, documented the six day hike in photos for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale in August and September.

She says the most challenging part of photographing the trip was in choosing her equipment.

“Usually with landscapes I’ll always shoot on a tripod, but then you have the weight of the tripod,” she said.

So she went without a tripod and carried only one lens with her on the day hikes, plus enough battery power to last for a week.

Fiona first realised her burgeoning passion for photography when she snapped a few pictures at her ballet recitals as a teenager. But it wasn’t until she completed her Bachelor of Arts when she decided to actually pursue it.  

She applied to Melbourne Polytechnic’s former course, Diploma of Arts (Applied Photography), now called the Diploma of Photography and Photo Imaging, and she never looked back.

“It was just a one year photography course I did after uni. I learnt more in that year than I did in three years of Uni,” she says.

Fiona now runs her own photography business, alongside an installation business where she manages graphic installs at museums, exhibition halls, offices and events. 

Her advice to budding photographers: “I would tell them to do a course and have a go, put yourself out there. You can set up your own website easily on Squarespace, get yourself an Instagram profile, a Facebook and get a good accountant, that’s always useful when you start a business.”

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, do a bit of freelancing for people and learn how other people run their business, or ask for tips on how they photograph things.

“Slowly build up your client base. Put yourself up for a biennale or go to head on festival and see what other people are doing.”

The trek through Central Australia raised almost $28,000 for the Luke Batty Foundation and was organised through the Huma Charity Challenge, a division of adventure travel company, World Expeditions. You can find out more about Rosie’s story and the Luke Batty foundation here.