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Let’s Talk Work: Zoe Kemp at Lyndal Irons Photography

In this series we talk to our students about the work that they do outside College and university to prepare them for the future. Paid jobs, internships, volunteering – St Andrew’s students are enthusiastic and energetic about gaining valuable work experience and improving their skills. 

Meet Zoe Kemp (Fr 2020). Zoe is in her third and final year of a Bachelor of Design in Photography at the University of Technology Sydney and attended Barrenjoey High School. We chatted with her about her recent internship with Lyndal Irons, a widely-exhibited and published Sydney photographer and writer.

Please tell us a bit more about your internship

Storytelling is at the heart of documentary photography, it is the role of the photographer to artfully and honestly capture the stories of different places, people and communities, and this is something I am very passionate about pursuing in the future.

I am studying to be a documentary photographer and artist, and am interested in working with, and learning from photographers in this field to further my understanding of the practice. Through UTS I was able to reach out to Lyndal Irons to undertake an internship with her for six weeks in semester one.

Whilst on placement with Lyndal I was fortunate enough to work with groups from all around Sydney’s South Coast and Western Suburbs. This included volunteers and life members of the Country Women’s Association (CWA) in Wollongong, and Club Weld – facilitated by the Arts and Cultural Exchange (ACE) in Parramatta – an organisation that works with musicians on the autism spectrum to record and produce music, and provide them with a leg-up into the music industry.

I was also very privileged to be able to help in documenting a truth telling panel discussion held at ACE, led by Dharug Knowledge Holders and the Myall Creek Memorial Committee, at which they exchanged stories with members of the National Committee, discussing frontier conflict and ongoing healing, as well as raising awareness of the Myall Creek Massacre and the work that the Memorial Committee have done and continue to do in learning, truth telling and sharing.

Working with each group brought about an entirely different and individual experience within documentary photography, and Lyndal has taught me so much about collaboration and working for and within communities.

What was your role during the internship?

Throughout the internship I worked as an assistant for Lyndal. This involved me collecting, setting up and packing down lighting, audio and camera gear, as well as monitoring a secondary camera or audio setup during filming. This role was fantastic as I was able to practise essential skills needed for any photography work, as well as observe Lyndal’s interactions with the subjects, and creative choices made during shooting.

How do you feel your internship will help you achieve your goals?

Working with Lyndal has given me invaluable insight into what it takes to work as a documentary photographer, and the skills and values I have learnt whilst working with her are things that I will definitely take with me in future. Lyndal taught me what great and equal collaboration looks like and how to work respectfully and honestly with subjects. Having been exposed to more of what I need to incorporate into my practice, I am humbled and hungry to learn, and understand some of the privileges, biases and skills that come with my practice, and plan to actively work to ensure I am creating space for meaningful and respectful collaboration as I move forward with my work.

What was the most memorable moment of working with Lyndal?

In a conversation I had with Lyndal before we began filming the panel at ACE, we spoke about how the discussion could go different ways, there could be anger, contempt, sadness, disagreement or resolution, and there was no way of knowing the exact outcome of the discussion, except that it was going to happen. It was the fact that we were able to witness this, respectfully capture it and learn from the event unfolding before us that was incredibly exciting, and made me proud to be working in a field where I had the opportunity to be welcomed into this space, learn from the people we were lucky to be working with, and record it for future knowledge and growth.

What made you choose St Andrew’s College?

I chose St Andrew’s because I knew it was a place where I could challenge myself, and be surrounded by people who are incredibly driven and passionate about what they do. I love that every success is celebrated, creativity can flourish and support is never in short supply. My time at Andrew’s has been incredible, and has allowed me to throw everything at my degree, all whilst having great fun at college. 

What other extra-curricular activities have you taken part in at College?

Whilst I’ve been at Drew’s I have been a photography secretary, which was a fantastic way to get involved with the college from Palladian performances, to shooting at Rawson and Rosebowl competitions, and doing promotional shoots for Dramsoc productions. Other extra-curricular activities include mentoring during O-week and writing for Drew’s News.

How has St Andrew’s helped you toward achieving your goals?

St Andrew’s have been a great support throughout my degree, and the opportunities and projects I have been given whilst here have enabled me to pursue my passions and goals further than if I were not at College. Alongside their range of prizes and competitions within the creative arts, St Andrew’s have also provided me with an internship role within their Communications team, which has been fantastic in gaining another professional understanding of a part of the industry I am choosing to work in.

What’s the best thing about College?

The people! College is full of such vibrant, passionate and unique people, and I think the community within Andrew’s is amazing, and something I am proud to be a part of.

See Lyndal’s work here:

See more of Zoe’s work here, as well as below:

All images in this article belong to Zoe Kemp.