Second in our series of up close profiles of Red Bull Illume judges from around the world is Oceania's Lyn Walker, photo editor at Alpha Magazine.
Lyn's path to becoming the photo editor at Australia's biggest selling monthly sports magazine emphasizes that you don't only need an eye for photography and know Photoshop inside-out, but also project management skills and business savvy.
Despite taking up photography as a teenager, she studied geography at university and then went on to work as a project manager for Australian Wool Innovation - a not-for-profit company owned by over 29,000 Australian woolgrowers - and the Big Lottery Fund in the UK, helping to give lottery money to good causes.
Lyn found her way back to photography after making a conscious career decision. "I missed the creative world. Instead of being behind the camera, I thought I’d like to produce photo shoots and spend my days browsing beautiful imagery. I did work experience at Network Photographers in London in 2004 and got lost in their amazing photo journalism archives. I knew then I had made the right career choice."
She took a Picture Research course at the London School of Publishing and landed a role as a Sales Executive at Dorling Kindersley's image department doing picture research and negotiating contracts for image licensing as well as launching their first e-newsletter in the process.
After the British weather got the better of her, she moved back to sunny Sydney to a job in Photo Research and Sales at Newspix's image library, which led to her getting an opportunity as the photo editor at one of the News Ltd. group's publications, Alpha.
"I’ve always been a sporty person so getting to job at Alpha seemed like a perfect combination of my interests. I have to do lots and lots of sports photo research. A big part of my day involves selecting images for written features - from a specific tackle in a rugby match to a scantily clad sports WAG (sport stars' wives and girlfriends). I also browse thousands of sports images a day to create picture-lead spreads."
Selecting images for a sports-mad public has its highs and lows however. "Mondays can be brutal after a weekend of sport. However, my favorite days are when I’m out of the office producing photo shoots for some of Australia’s top athletes and sports stars."
What does she love about sports photography? "In sport especially, moments are so fast and fleeting, photography captures them and can show you a particular and unexpected viewpoint. I love seeing a specific moment in time from an individual and personal perspective."
Cricket fans will have seen her shoot with bowling legend Glenn McGrath while she has also worked with Queensland Rugby League legend Darren Lockyer and one of the world's best hockey players, Casey Eastham. However, Olympic gold aerial freestylist Lydia Lassila has also shown that this sunny nation can compete with the best in winter sports. Lyn, of course, had a shoot planned well in advance.
Along the way, Lyn had had to combine all her training and experience to work in the photo business. As well as studying marketing and management in 2006, she's had to complete numerous courses including intellectual property law, project management, Adobe Photoshop and Bridge to get to her current position.
What kind of photos does she enjoy working with most? "Researching adventure sports photography is my favorite subject as well as images of remote and hazardous locations where photographers are not only artists but explorers."
What developments has she seen in the industry since she started? "In picture research, online access connects the researcher directly with the image, which gives more choice, access and faster service. Digital photography means I can have the images on my desktop twenty minutes after a photo shoot."
Lyn also foresees more changes in the industry. "As technology advances, image capture and handling will change and improve with the Internet playing a key role. Some online news services now use handheld video cameras for immediate footage and high-resolution grabs are extracted for newspaper use. Although I don’t think this trend will cause a decline in the photography - there will always be a skill and art involved in capturing a specific moment."
Representing the Oceanic continent in this year's Jury, Lyn is looking forward to Red Bull Illume because "it promotes and celebrates adventure and extreme sports photography around the world."
See the slide-show for Lyn Walker's selection of Australian sports photographers she has worked with and her photo shoots for Alpha magazine.