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The eye of the adventurer

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Craig Parry launches gallery, reveals limited edition image of Migaloo the Whale

If you’ve been away for the holidays, local residents of Byron Bay will be coming home to a nice surprise: the brand new Craig Parry Photography Gallery in Fletcher Street, which celebrated an official launch on Friday night, with overwhelming patron response.

Craig’s popularity both as a photographer and as a person was evident, with the large, supportive crowd, heaving out onto the footpath outside; the small gallery unable to accommodate the above-capacity attendance.

Born and raised in the Northern Rivers, award-winning photographer Craig Parry has revitalised his residency in the area with the official launch of his second gallery.

After successfully running his first gallery in Lennox Head for five years, Craig closed shop to pursue a more commercial career, including building a popular workshops service, which now take him and his students to exotic destinations such as Tonga and Africa.

The passionate photographer, traveller, and lover of nature, soon found himself wanting to establish a footprint for himself at home again.

‘I had so many good images I wasn’t really showing or selling to people,’ Craig says. ‘Online is just a mass of so many other photographers. For me to have somewhere I can present my work now and people can buy it, it means the world to me’.

And only three weeks after opening, it showing serious returns for the talented creative. Prior to the new gallery, Craig says he was selling, on average, one print a month. ‘Now I’m selling five to six prints a day’!

The gallery has impressed international and interstate visitors over the summer holidays; Craig reports clientele to currently be about 50% international, followed by some from Sydney, Melbourne, and a smattering of locals. But he enthuses his anticipation to reach out and connect with the local community more.

‘Because I’ve opened in the holidays, I think more people who are renting AirBnBs have seen my work than the ones who run them! Hopefully in the coming weeks I’ll get to meet the locals and my prints might even end up in some of those AirbnBs!’ he laughs.

And we see why they’d be the perfect fit for some of the paradisiac-style homes in the area.

A keen adventurer, particularly of the water, Craig loves interacting with animals in the wild. He used the gallery launch to unveil his nature-inspired exhibition ‘Odyssey’, that documents our natural environment in all its simple and complex brilliance. The stunning colours have to be seen to be believed.

Of the exhibition, Craig explains ‘This exhibition is about creating an awareness of … and bringing people closer to nature,’ of which we believe he has captured brilliantly.

The feature piece of the launch event was the limited edition print of Migaloo – the albino whale loved the world over, after Craig nabbed a rare and brief encounter with him in July last year.

Craig knew Migaloo was in the area, as he had been spotted in Yamba the previous day. Using a drone app, Craig plotted a course of 5kms an hour to help predict when Migaloo might grace the waters of Byron Bay. He calculated an estimated arrival time of 5am, and headed out on the water with his Dad. Two hours later, Craig noticed a helicopter hovering nearby, so he knew where to head.

He captured two beautiful shots – the feature image now on display in his gallery, and a gorgeous tail shot; both presented in a striking black and white format.

‘We went up and respected the distance that national parks do,’ Craig tells us with a smile, reliving the unique moment. ‘He was breaching and slapping the water, and then all of a sudden he just disappeared. This meant he was either going to go a long distance or get closer. So we just stopped the boat. All of a sudden we saw him just 100 metres out from the boat. At that stage I already had my camera out, ready. He went straight under the water, and I could hear him singing under the boat. It was ridiculous. It was brief but definitely one of the most memorable moments of my career’.

In addition to the enviable moment with Migaloo, Craig has curated a beautiful display of the diverse personality of our landscape, including the internationally acclaimed image ‘Life and Death’, which was taken during the 2013 Lennox Head bushfires, and won International Landscape Photo of the year in 2014.

‘It’s where the winds changed direction, so it saved that part of the bush. It’s a pretty special one, that one, it was my first award-winning drone shot,’ Craig humbly explains.

After Craig revealed the Migaloo image, Tonga-based Whale Tour Guide and Skipper, Phil Smith spoke of his experiences with Craig during their Tongan trips, praising Craig for his humility, and dedication to the craft.

‘I tell the photographers ‘The shot will come to you, you might think you need to chase the shot, but you’re here for something different. Let it come to you, when it comes to you you’ll know’.

On his first trip, Phil tells us, two days in a row Craig managed two incredible shots, one of a humpback whale leaping from the water in majestic grandeur, and another image on display in the gallery.

Phil continued ‘I don’t like selfies, which seems to be 65% of the photos taken these days. [You have a] beautiful view, beautiful landscape, beautiful animal behind you, and people think ‘I’m going to turn my back on you’. I don’t like that. Probably the only selfie Craig has taken was a great one. As he was swimming back to the boat; he took a shot of a whale swimming behind him.

‘That’s what makes the difference with Craig: He’s capturing a second in time, or less,’ Pointing to the same photo, he reminds us ‘That shows a story … he can tell a whole story about the event that happened there. I’ve seen millions of whale photos in the time of had my business, but this is the best photo ever’.

Craig Parry Photography Gallery is now open in 8 Fletcher Street, Byron Bay.

Information on upcoming photography workshops can be found at https://craigparryphotography.com/
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Monique Hartman is a Writer, Events Manager, and Arts Administrator based in Byron Bay. She has worked in Artist & Tour Management for some of Australia’s most successful exports, and some of the biggest music festivals in the country. Monique is the co-founder and Director of Popped Creative: an events and creative services agency launching in 2017. She is also venue programmer for Park Lane Theatre, Lennox Head, and a freelance writer for both corporate and creative clients. Her first book is currently in production.

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