Portfolio Steve Strike -- My Backyard [view as slideshow]
Can you build a career shooting nothing but your own backyard? For Steve Strike, whose backyard spans from Uluru to Coober Pedy, from the Bungle Bungles to Alice Springs and everywhere in between, the answer is a resounding yes.
For many years the
name, Steve Strike was thought
to have been a ghosty - a name magazine editors made
up when the true author didn't want his revealed.
When the real life Steve Strike was introduced at
a function of professional photographers in Sydney
a few years back, he heard whispering among the gathered:
"Damn, that guy is the real deal!"
Steve then had to face some ardent questioning as
to exactly who his agent was, as he must be a good
one. A bemused Strike was left stranded - he didn't
even know what an agent was or did. "I just go
out there and take photographs and people buy them,"
he says. "It can't be any simpler than that."
Steve is one of the few Aussies fortunate enough
not only to have explored most of outback and northern
Australia during the past 25 years, but to have made
it his home. And if his many clients in the tourism,
automotive, aviation and mining industries see fit
to pay him to go out there and shoot it, well - you
won't hear him complaining.
"I've had many great experiences travelling
throughout remote Australia," Steve tells AT.
One of the more memorable ones involved the unenviable
task of placating an executive from a major US car
"We'd visited all the major attractions Central
Australia had to offer and there was just no way of
impressing this bloke.'Back home,' this guy would
undoubtedly say, 'we've got a bigger or better one.'
Well, that was until we pulled up at Uluru. He got
out of the car and, with a totally stunned look on
his face, blurted: 'God damn, man! We ain't
got one of those!'"
Steve was relieved that he'd finally found something
in Australia that was bigger or better than back in
the States. The feeling was short-lived, however,
as Strike's American guest pulled on his chin, turned
and said: "You know, Steve, if we did have one
of those, we would've built a glass roof over it by
When he's not playing impromptu Aussie ambassador,
Steve's based in Alice Springs with an additional
office in Darwin. He travels extensively on assignment,
flitting from Coober Pedy to Kakadu or from Birdsville
to Broome. He's even got a current slot on the National
Geographic Channel in advertorials promoting the Northern
Territory. For more info on Steve and his work, check
And next time you're in the Alice, don't miss the
magnificent panoramas on display at The Outback Photographers
Gallery in the Fan Arcade on Todd Mall.
Desert Storm // Rain on the Rock
Easily my most sought-after Australian photo of all
time, this image appeared on the front page of The
Australian three times in one week. A freak shot taken
minutes after a tropical downpour right in the middle
of the day, this is indeed one rare shot as most rainfall
in this part of the world occurs at night. When I
arrived it was raining so hard I couldn't even see
the Rock. Minutes later the rain cleared and I was
presented with this sight.
Some 20 years ago I was commissioned by Time in the
US to shoot a story on the demise of the Aboriginal
Stockman and his role on Australian cattle stations.
We travelled up the Stuart Hwy to a property that
neighbours the famous Newcastle Waters. There on Heyfield
Station among the genuine bulldust was a character
the Aboriginal ringers called "Ol' Devil".
I later found out his real name was Johnny Devlin,
but he preferred to be known as Johnny Devil.
Most of the ringers were camera shy, so the younger
fella's thought Ol' Devil should be the one to play
up to the camera. I'm glad they did as the shot of
Johnny Devil with rollie still intact while scruffing
a calf out of the mob is still a classic today.
year I though it'd be good to photograph old Johnny
again, who must now be in his 70s. I found him living
in a little town on the Stuart Hwy called Elliot.
He was sitting on a pile of mulga wood making boomerangs.
When he saw me his face lit up as he remembered our
encounter that resulted in him gracing the cover of
Time magazine some two decades previously. He called
out: "Hey, Steeb! You come to built da tatyou
of me and itchy on da tuart highway?" For
a moment I had no idea what he was on about until
I realised he wanted his moment of fame immortalised
in the form of a bronze statue on the Stuart Hwy.
Itchy, by the way, is the name of his stock horse.
When confronted with the camera for the second time
in his life, Ol Devil called out, "Hey! Susan!
Come an ab you poto wid me!" Susan, his
wife (whom I'd never met), appeared and they snuggled
up for an emotive display of affection.
Star Trails at Sunset
Out in the Western Desert after Pinatubo
(a volcano in the Philippines) blew up in 1991, the
sky would turn into a huge fireball literally for
hours after sunset. Here, the planet Mars sets though
the glowing volcanic ash lit by the sun way below
The Bearded Dragon is the Aussie chameleon. It can change colour from black to bright ochre. I was photographing wildflowers when this one, hidden by its camouflage, surprised me by hissing when it saw itself reflected in the lens.
Mt Sonder, made famous by painter
Albert Namatjira, is a beacon in the West MacDonnells
near Alice Springs. During the day its shape and colour
resemble mountains in the Swiss Alps. In the pre-dawn
glow it's the epitome of the Australian outback.
I'd been out flying helicopters all day and
had landed at Glen Helen in the Western MacDonnell
Ranges right on dark. The pilot was refuelling the
chopper from 44-gallon drums when this rare little
creature crawled right out from under one. I couldn't
resist the shot.
Poached Egg Daisy
It never ceases to amaze me how photographers have
the ability to hone in on minute detail. In a sea
of Poached Egg Daisies covering vast acres of land,
I spotted this single one shaped just like a heart.
I guess I'm no different.
Mt Gillen Sunset
The year 2000 was one of the wettest on record in
Central Australia. Unfortunately, when the rains stop,
the mountains of grass dry out and go up in smoke.
This brings in the Black Tailed Kites, which circle
above the fires hunting the fleeing animals. I waited
with a 600mm telephoto lens until one flew through
the setting sun-ball near the base of Mt Gillen in
the heart of Alice Springs.
I was doing a recce for Tourism Australia and looking
for a location for their "Where the bloody hell
are you?" campaign. I's amazing the characters
you meet when you get out there. In this instance
I ended up at the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu) in WA.
There's a wilderness camp there where I stayed a few
nights. After a few days someone in the camp said:
"Have you met 'Handbrake' yet?"
as it turns out, Handbrake Harry was this fella not
unlike Matt Shirvington the Australian sprinter. Handbrake
Harry was possibly the greatest sprinter ever seen
in Australia never to win a race. So how was this
possible? It seems Handbrake Harry was a gambler and
had entered the professional footrace The Stawell
Gift many times. When the gun went off, Harry would
be way out in front until the last few metres when
he'd pull on the handbrake and lose by a nose. He'd
always back someone else with better odds than himself,
then let them win so he could clean up with the bookies.
Handbrake Harry is now a tour guide in the Bungles
and appeared in the "Where the bloody hell are
you?" ad campaign.