Tom Williams l Wollongong Now  (Ongoing)

The outer layer is intriguing because it gives clues as to the nature of the person beneath – but it’s also a decoy because (like a photograph) it’s only a surface and can mean next to nothing.  I have a teenage son and am constantly interested in how people choose to present themselves to the outside world, and the factors that govern these choices- tradition, religion, brand-power, a perception of what’s ‘cool’, a desire to differentiate or requirement to integrate; and so many more nuanced influences. These photographs are made  in the city, Wollongong, where I live.  For some time this series had the working title Southern Portraits – the southern meaning south of Sydney, the nearby metropolis.

What attracts me to portraiture is the brief and intense interaction that results in a picture that speaks of the subject, the photographer, the interaction, and sometimes, the place.

I also photograph places and the ways people have structured and marked them.  I wonder how they and we will appear to others in, say, one hundred years’ time-  which details and idiosyncrasies will be taken as quaint or confected and which will be seen as magnificent. 

This is a work-in-progress.  I like to spend a long time on projects, partly because I enjoy being in the process of photographing, and because I’m never satisfied that I’ve finished.  Maybe this is the nature of photography:  if you are interested in truth you can never quite reach it; and making pictures is a way of existing and an addiction that feeds itself. In the end when you look at someone you can only try to guess at the magnificent complexity and consciousness beneath the outer layer.


Archival pigment prints (61 x 61cm)