Jon Corpus - "My first photography exhibition" in Fremantle, W.A
On Wednesday the 3rd of April there was a special gathering of folk at Moores Gallery in the city of Fremantle, Western Australia. It was an evening of celebration for the launch of the book ‘100 Things To See In The Kimberley’ but it was also a celebration of all things Kimberley.
Kimberley locals mixed with Perth folk, swaying to the easy-listening music of David Pigram (of Broome’s famous Pigram Brothers) and sipping on Matsos beers. For Scotty Connell, the author of 100 Things To See In The Kimberley, sharing the spotlight with his old Broome school buddy and proud Yawuru man Jon Corpus (who is an amazing photographer) made the evening even more special. Jon’s gorgeous Kimberley imagery hung on the walls of the historic (1840) Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery - a fine space for Jon’s first photography exhibition!
After the evening we asked Jon a few questions about his first photography exhibition; growing up in Broome and how the Kimberley inspires his art. Read on …
Who are you, Jon Corpus?
I’m Jon Corpus. I grew up in Broome my whole life. I only went to 2 schools in my schooling years. I would spend all day in Broome riding and hanging with mates in the bush ‘til sundown. I spent a lot of time camping with family. We would have a convoy of 4 to 5 cars and have family of 8 to 10 people at a time in each car. I moved to Perth only 5 years ago and I still get excited living here. I do miss home a lot however I get up North a lot throughout the year. The soul fills up whenever I’m there - I can feel my batteries charging again.
Does your family still live in the Kimberley?
I have a strong connection to the Broome area as that’s Yawuru land of which my father’s father is from. His Mother is from the Nyul Nyul mob in the Beagle Bay area. Having my father (Micklo Corpus) and other family members with a connection to the land has helped me be who I am today, with a soul connection to the land. My mother, Jean, has also played a huge part in my life. I think she’s helped me push myself to go against the grain and learn new things just by meeting people or reading up. She is always my biggest fan and supports me 110%. I have a sister, Michelle, who I would say is easily my best friend. Her partner, Curtis is worth his weight in GOLD, He is also aboriginal. His mob is Nyarnda from Geraldton and Kariyarra and Bunjimah from his father’s side in Hedland. They have 3 amazing kids who are so smart but are learning so much - not only from my father’s side but also Curtis.
What made you get into photography?
I grew up running to the news agency once a month and buying a National Geographic magazine, just to see how HUGE the world is. I had a camera given to me for a birthday it was a 3.2mp camera, but it was mine so I loved it. I was never serious into photography but I needed another hobby apart from getting hurt on a motocross bike. I went and brought a drone 2 years ago and I haven’t looked back. Starting from scratch, I knew nothing about shutter speed and aperture so it took some time to get into. My big goal for 2020 is to buy a DSLR and really get ground and aerial photography on point.
How does the Kimberley inspire you?
No matter where you are in the Kimberley, it’s paradise. Be it on the coast or next to a range inland, there is just something that heals the soul. The colours are so unique that you can’t help but fall in love with the place. The people are amazing and the stories they have, also the pride they show for the area. The Kimberley is just so big and amazing that you need 3 months to scratch the surface; you can’t take the Kimberley in a hurry. It’s hard to say how something inspires me until I’m sitting with my feet in the water; enjoying a sunset/sunrise; sitting on a mountain or just looking up at the stars. It will click, it always does, that moment when everything just clears your mind and you feel true comfort and bliss.
What's your fave photo you've taken?
Hands down it was my Kooljaman Shot. I planned it for a year. I tried to plan for a bigger tide; the sun at the right angle; the water to be clearer. Once I arrived it was a perfect dewy morning, so the red cliffs had a deep red and the cracks were darker with moisture. The sun was at the right height to cast a shadow on the sand but slice through the water. It’s over 25 images stitched together. To be honest, I nearly didn’t take the photos just because it was perfect every morning.
What camera do you shoot with?
So, at the moment I have a new DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Before that was the first DJI Maivc Pro, which 90% of my photos have been taken with. The new Mavic is just leaps and bounds over the older one. It’s got a better camera with a larger sensor, better flight time and just the technology into that bit of equipment is brilliant. I chose the Mavic because it folds up and I brought a backpack Droneguard BP 250 that’s designed for this drone. The reason for this foldable drone is for portability, I hike and do a lot of climbing of rough areas that would be difficult with a bigger drone/bag. To me, going Walkabout is more important than the photography, however having something so compact just makes the adventure have a reward at the end with photos. Additional items I have are filters, which are a must for the water side of things to gut the glare sometimes. Extra batteries are a must.
Have you ever had anything bad happen while you've been out photographing in the Kimberley?
I haven’t crashed a drone, which is good, but I have had scary moments with delays of 2 seconds from what I can only say would be the rich iron in the ranges. I get a bit nervous when flying close to a tree and the delay just causes the drone to miss by millimetres I reckon. I’ve had sea eagles chase my drone. While out camping along the Gibb, I went for an Astro shoot around 3am in the morning only to have something follow me for a couple hundred meters. I won’t lie - I was pretty scared.
What's your dream with your photography?
My biggest dream would be to have people fall in love with a print and want it on their wall. I don’t want them to just hang a photo on the wall; I want them to have something they can walk past and it brings joy; it means something to them; it brings emotion because it touches their soul. That’s what I want.
How did it feel to have your first photography exhibition (the shared event with Scotty's book launch in fremantle)?
Honoured was definitely my first feeling when I got the phone call from Scotty. It was definitely a very proud moment to have a good mate, on a very important night for him, ask me. I was honoured. On the night I felt it was just a few of my photos hung on a wall, however, people made sure that I needed to walk around and soak it up for my first exhibition. To hear some of the comments was amazing, it pulled on the heart strings. Having a few friends there that haven’t seen my work in print and instantly seeing their face of pride then look at me is a feeling that can only be felt. I would be keen for another one, for sure.
Finally - where can people view and buy your work?
90% of my stuff is on my Instagram page. I’m also starting to be a little bit more consistent with Facebook. If there is something you like you can contact me because I can guarantee I have 30 images from the same location!
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Jon. You are such a humble man who is also talented and a total joy to be around. We think that you are amazing!
- The Kimberley Australia team