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The BMI a Proud Home to Fringe Festival Highlight, “Outside In”


John Tozer’s exhibition , "Outside In", is a series of paired photographs capturing the interior and exterior of wondrous architectural structures in Australia and overseas. Since taking up photography in 2001, Tozer has won awards and exhibited works in Russia. The BMI spoke with him and found out how painstakingly hard it can be to take a good shot.

How do you feel when you’re taking a photo? What’s going through your head in that moment?

Look, a lot of things are going through your head. One, you’re trying to get positioned so that you get a properly balanced photo. In a lot of cases like inside buildings, I try to make them symmetrical. While it might feel symmetrical at first, when you’re looking through a lens and standing in a funny position so you’re not getting bumped over by tourists, it’s often quite difficult to get that symmetry. For example, in some places like St Petersburg, you can take photos, but not allowed to use tripods! So you have to act as your own tripod and be as careful as you can. But it tends to have a bigger impact on the viewer of the photo when the image is symmetrical.

What makes the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute the right place for you to hold the exhibition?

Well, firstly I love old buildings! I live in a 150-year-old stone house in Castlemaine. The [Ballaarat Mechanics’] Institute is an integral part of Ballarat. When I’m in the Fringe Festival Bienalle, I’m looking for a space where people can take their time, unlike a café where you’re looking over people eating. I think it’s a nice space to exhibit here.

What do you think of the way taking photos in general for social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr is now the norm? Do you think everyone can take a good photo now?

Look, I’m very happy it’s happening. I think the more literate, if you like, people are with photography, the better it is. I see Iphone photography as being more documentary, by capturing people’s moments. I don’t see it, as the sort of thing people would want to hang on their wall. It’s sort of “now”, and typically not well constructed.  Professional photos on the other hand consider lighting, shadows, colours and use quality lens to get the shot. Both types of photos are very different.

John Tozer’s fringe exhibition, “Outside In”, for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, will be showing in the Hugh Williamson Foyer until September 20. You can also visit his website here.

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