Just a natural

Christian Horgan’s Pondering the Positives: a simple water lily or a message about appreciating the quiet beauty around us?

DRESSED to the nines and passing by one of Fremantle’s many picturesque points, there’s one local you’d be especially lucky to ask for a quick snap. His name is Christian Horgan and he just won two of the 2021 iPhone Photography Awards’ 14 categories. 

The digital dynamo took home gold in the Nature category for his photograph of a water lily and in People for his portrait of Aussie singer Montaigne in a quiet moment before her set. 

Mr Horgan says his success has earned a certain amount of cred with his teenage niece and nephew and the Instagram followers that come with it. Still, he hasn’t always felt so confident in his skills. 

The Chook spoke to the digital dynamo in 2017 when he had just won his first IPPA, a gold in Landscape for his photograph of Singing Rock in Margaret River. At the time, he said he was so sure he wouldn’t win that he didn’t even bother to submit a bio along with his photos. 

Now, the decorated photographer is quietly laying plans for a shot-on-iPhone documentary. A veteran visual storyteller, Mr Hogan has spent his professional career in radio and broadcasting, and is currently working on the Disney+ Docuseries Shipwreck Hunters Australia.

In spite of an enduring interest in telling stories, Mr Horgan says he did not come to appreciate his unique way of viewing the world until it was pointed out to him. 

So different

Mr Horgan and his assistant were taking quick photos of a VW Bug on a film set when she said: “How come I stand in the exact same spot as you with the same phone but your image looks so different?” 

She was pointing out something that would come to define Mr Horgan’s interest in iPhone photography, though he didn’t know it at the time. 

Without fancy equipment and complicated editing software to hide behind, the iPhone levels the playing field, creating a form that is more about vision than technical expertise. “If you don’t have a good story, then why are you telling it?” 

For Mr Horgan, photography is all about vision and perspective; ”presenting something in such a way that people can see it like they never have before”.

His photograph Pondering the Positives, winner of the Nature category, was simply a quick snap of a water lily floating in his sister’s fish pond. He took it during lockdown, “a time when people are spending a lot more time indoors and their world has changed.

“For me it was a bit of a symbol not to cut off the beauty that’s in your life. It can be something you walk by every day, but just stop and have a look and try to see it from a different perspective. The beauty is there if you let it come through.”

Mr Horgan delights in the sort of feedback that gives him a glimpse of others’ unique perspectives as well. Of Pondering he says “it’s clearly a photo of a flower. But people see so many different things. The other day someone told me it looks like the Olympic torch.”

Curious

The playfulness that characterises photos like Black Summer, Blue Montaigne which features Montaine’s bold blue curls and bright red jacket in a sky of baby blue stadium seats, comes naturally to Mr Horgan. “I’ve always been really observant, I think. And really curious. I would hate for life to be boring.” 

That spirit of whimsy can be especially important in challenging times like the titular “black summer” when raging bushfires made peace hard to come by.

To see more of Mr Horgan’s unique perspective brought to life, you can follow him on Instagram at @christianhorgan. To see the Chook go head to head at iPhone photography with an IPPA winner and lose embarrassingly, you can visit our Instagram @thefreoherald.

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