Dan King really sets things alight on his photo shoots. While working on a project in Northern Queensland, the Aussie photographer lit an alpine rainforest on fire, then snapped pictures.
The kicker? These fiery photographs were, counterintuitively, part of a project to benefit the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. We caught up with Dan before his AWC exhibition in New York to get the scoop on his adventures in the bush.
Hey Dan. So tell us what you’re doing here?
We were commissioned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy to hold a one night exhibition-featuring two sanctuaries that are run by the AWC-in New York to raise money for the charity.
Who is ‘we?’
Me and Christopher Griffith. We were sent to two different sanctuaries, and showcased our interpretations of what we saw. I was sent to Mount Zero Taravale and Chris was sent to Mornington Heights which is in Western Australia.
So you guys were deep in the bush. How was that?
It was fucking amazing. It was an adventure.
Tell us about the location you were in.
I’d never been to Northern Queensland before. It’s a tropical rainforest, but it’s in the highlands so it’s really cold. I’ve never experienced rainforests in high mountains.
Was it challenging to shoot in such a remote locale? Were the pictures themselves more complicated to take?
A big shock to me were the Australian native animals. They’re extremely hard to find. They’re all small marsupials and mammals which are nocturnal and hide for survival. Just finding them was the most difficult part.
That must’ve been wild. What did your process look like when you were in the field?
The image behind me was shot at five o’clock on a brisk morning. We all got up, rode atvs to this ridge line and set up. There was a natural mist coming through, slightly colored, which was incredible. The idea was to capture the trees’ movement and and trick it out so you can see in the picture what it feels like to be there. It’s really hard to capture the beauty of the place.
Were there any highlights from the trip?
We did a controlled burn. There was a big firewall with drip torches, atvs, a few cameras and just let loose. It was very Apocalypse Now. There was one moment where I was pumping the air by myself, with fire on both sides and my camera strapped on an ATV. That was the best moment on the trip. It was so much fun it was ridiculous.
How were you guys able to do a controlled burn in a sanctuary?
The land needs fire management to rejuvenate. Now that there’s no aboriginals living in the land, it’s so essential that they do this, because you can get fires that come through and burn for weeks.
What were you trying to achieve with that particular burn photograph?
I wanted to show a part of this landscape. It’s so remote, It’s really mountainous, it’s almost spooky. It’s got a real energy to it.
Why was did you decide that fire would be an important part of the piece?
Fire is such a beautiful, untamed thing. It just traps you in and looks beautiful. That’s the main point.
How was it producing your work for a cause? Was it constraining at all?
We were given quite good freedom to do whatever. Essentially this is not about us, it’s a representation of the charity. It’s something we’re proud to be part of.