Esther Beaton

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Australian Geographic’s Night of Nights

There were two sets of winners last night at Australian Geographic Society’s Awards Night 2010: the official and the unofficial. The official award winners were conservationists and adventures, young and old. You can read about them here. But then there were the unofficial winners – like the photographers and editorial staff in this midnight hour snapshot (L to R: Paul Nevin, Ian Connellan, Frances Mocnik, Esther Beaton, Warren Field, Bill Bachman, Chrissie Goldrick). Granted, some of the photographers in this pic had won official awards in the past – for their courage and innovation under flashgun fire, so to speak. But the true awards won by all of us last night was the strength and inspiration gathered from each other and spread around the room of 400 guests.
The official awards went to ‘conservationists’ and ‘adventurers’ – as they should. But as a photographer for AG over many years, I think I’ve taken on those roles also. By capturing thousands of photographic records of Australia’s wildlife, and by repeatedly sending these photos out as ambassadors of all that is strange and wonderful and beautiful about Australia, I think I can call myself somewhat of a conservationist. And, by doing whatever it takes to get a shot of some elusive critter, whether that’s freezing in snow, scraping up trees or falling out of them, lying motionless for hours, hungry, hot and thirsty, being oblivious to the stings, bites and nips of insects or the attacks of cranky animals, getting lost in dark and lonely forests, entitles me to calling myself an adventurer too. If it hadn’t been for AG, I simply wouldn’t have had all the opportunities to come back with the many photos I am so proud to have taken.
The other ‘award’ I got last night was the reward of seeing AG’s journal grow from strength to strength over the 15 years I’ve been involved with it. Whether photographer, writer or illustrator, all the contributors are fiercely impassioned people. To be among them last night was like being among the gods. A little bit of their magic rubbed off on me and I left the evening on a high like I haven’t had in a long while.
I am re-invigorated, fired up and ready to meet the challenge of creating more and better photography then ever before. Thank you AG – thank you Dick Smith, Sorrel Wilby, Chrissie Goldrick, Ian Connellan, John Pickrell and others for keeping the flag held high. (And thank you World Expeditions for the fantastic snapshot!)

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