David Bignell - Photographer with a Difference

In September 2022 the winners of the inaugural Australian Photographic Prize (APP) were announced, following a four-day event held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.1

The brainchild of photographers Karen Alsop and Robyn Campbell, the event and competition is aimed at filling the space in the industry left vacant by the closure of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) last year, along with its Australian Professional Photography Awards competition, the APPAs.1

The main distinction between the APP and the APPAs however, is the competition accepts entries from both professionals and amateur photographers alike.1

Camberwell Camera Club member David Bignell won the Digital Award with a reflective self-portrait as shown below.

Reflective self portrait by David Bignell © (Credit:instagram.com/david_bignell_photography/)

Digital Category Overall Winner David Bignell says his photo is one of a series he made during lockdown. "It employs a visual metaphor to convey the message of someone who is literally washed out. The idea of experimenting with tissue paper emerged from thoughts about floated emulsion processing. Once I started printing on tissue I considered the possibilities of how the paper could be linked to emotions. I started to create self-portraits with torn tissue, wet tissue, crumpled tissue and so on. The fragility of tissue felt apt to describe the fragility of the mind under different pressures. Ironically, being locked down opened a door to a new creative space to explore, and a Zeitgeist to capture.”1

This winning photo is an excellent introduction to the works of David Bignell as it illustrates his desire to take what often appears as an ordinary subject in our world and then with clever camera angles, the application of digital effects and ingenious printing techniques David creates an artistic masterpiece.

And speaking of Zeitgeists - the image below is an excellent example of David's ability to capture a moment in significant time was our very recent experience of being locked in and wearing masks during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Double Trouble by David Bignell © (Credit:instagram.com/david_bignell_photography/)

I'll let David tell you a little about his background and how he came to be interested in photograhy.

I am a Melbourne based photographic digital artist. My interest in photography started as a child when my father tutored me in the use of his Leica camera. I marvelled at the way the sky darkened in black and white photography when a yellow filter was used. My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic and first competition was in junior school.

Photography was a component of the graphic design course I completed at what is now Swinburne University. I took the audiovisual stream as the 3rd year elective. After finishing my course, I worked in a/v companies and then in 3D animation as soon as it emerged in the 1980s. I was a freelance motion graphics and 3D animator until taking up a full time position with one of my clients, Channel 9 Melbourne (GTV9). For many years I enjoyed working in the intense dynamic flow of the GTV9 news room, racing towards the daily deadlines. During this time I continued my passion for photography. For example I learned how to make spherical photos digitally stitched together, which I used to create 3D virtual environments.

I have stepped away from a motion graphic design career spanning 35 years. This has given me the time to concentrate on my own artistic expression, primarily through photography. I love experimenting with mixing photographic media whether that be photogrammetry, photography and 3D printing or 3D photography and new high tech digital lenticular imaging. I spend a lot of time doing online tutorials to learn new techniques.

I'm an active member of the Camberwell Camera Club where I take part in the monthly competitions, which encourage working in a variety of styles and to a deadline, all within the cameraderie of others who are passionate about photography.

David doesn't have a website so I have reviewed the images on his Instagram account.

The images reveal an exceptional photographer and someone who is attracted to a great variety of subject matter. David's versatility and wide ranging subject matter are impressive features of his oeuvre but my attention was drawn more to the amazing techniques and effects he is able to achieve: the subject matter although beautifully constructed in composition is secondary to the impact of the photographic effects which at times become almost surreal.

Data Miners by David Bignell © (Credit:instagram.com/david_bignell_photography/)

David happily photographs birds, people, landscapes, buildings, objects - just about anything can catch his eye and be touched with his magic achieving a wow effect! Look at this image below of two gulls - caught with perfect timing and such a clever and difficult angle - but it is the amazing composition of patterns in the clouds and water that combine to focus our eyes on the gulls.

And as with all of David's photographs - the viewer feels part of the shot - in the water looking directly up at the gulls.

Wingspan by David Bignell © (Credit:instagram.com/david_bignell_photography/)

Or encountering a couple of Rainbow Lorikeets fighting - I can feel the generation of wind from their violent encounter. The brilliant blurring of their colourful feathers adding to the drama which brings us so close to nature.

Fight by David Bignell © (Credit:instagram.com/david_bignell_photography/)

Sometimes the rawness of nature doesn't need a text - the image is complete.

End of the Road by David Bignell © (Credit:instagram.com/david_bignell_photography/)

Movement however is dominant in many of David's images making them dynamic impressions and leaving you marvelling at the skill of this virtuoso behind the camera.

Takes the Plunge by David Bignell © (Credit:instagram.com/david_bignell_photography/)

I deliberately chose the word virtuoso as David's images are like music - each with an accompanying score heralding a rhythm that forms the connecting threads of composition.

Even in an image which at first glance appears static emerges with movement however understated.

The Old Whaling Station by David Bignell © (Credit:instagram.com/david_bignell_photography/)

It has been an absolute joy to review David's images and to discover his amazing gift in creating effects which take us from reality into another world where questions are asked and emotions stirred.

I am going to conclude with an image which is not out of this world as are many of David's images but very much part of this world and those who know me well will understand why this image appeals to me the most.

Heavenly by David Bignell © (Credit:instagram.com/david_bignell_photography/)

Instagram users can follow David Bignell by clicking here.

And if you would like to see more inaugural Australian Photographic Prize (APP) winners please click here.

© Thank you to David Bignell who kindly gave permission for the images of his work to be shared on AnArt4Life.

1. australianphotography.com