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International Women's Day Keynote 2024



Lucinda Presented as the keynote speaker at the 2024 Soroptimist International Geelong IWD breakfast @ GMHBA Stadium. Below is the Keynote.

I’m so grateful to be able to share in celebrating International Women’s Day with you all this year and have the opportunity to reflect on this year’s theme Inspire Inclusion. When I was growing up Women and women’s achievements where not as celebrated as they are becoming today. I never went to an event like this in high school, I assumed that men and women were treated equally, but the older I got the more I learnt that was not the case. A lot of industries, particularly music is faced with the lack of representation of females. When you go to a concert, you often see most roadies, sound engineers and also the band themselves mainly comprise of men.


Throughout my 14 years in a very male dominated industry I’ve had to overcome a lot of hurdles, being knocked back for shows for less qualified male collogues, having to prove myself 110% more than men who produce the same level work as I do, asked “who I’m dating in the band” in order to get my Access all areas pass, or even being told that the artist thought the male photographer would be a “better hang” on the road.

 

I don’t want to make this next half hour about all the negative things I’ve faced over my entire career, however the things that have happened along the way, good or bad has shaped who I am today, how I got to where I am.

In a world where we look at everyone’s lives through curated feeds on social media, I feel its important to paint you the entire authentic picture, but in lighting speed.

 

So, in saying that… we need to start back in high school…



So, this is me all be it 15 years ago, just finished year 12, headed to falls festival over new year’s life is pretty great. Throughout my entire life I was always creative, and throughout high school I was always carrying around a point and shoot camera documenting parts of my life, whether that was the battle of the bands at lunch time, hanging with my friends at the beach, school camps…. everything.I had a few friends in bands and would go to all ages shows to watch them play, taking a camera to document and keep myself entertained.


one of the first life lessons I learn was that the decisions you make in High school seems so life altering at the time, and in some ways they are, but there is also opportunity to change the narrative and change your mind.


I had the opportunity to study studio arts in an accelerated learning program, which meant I finished my year 12 studio arts in year 11. So, when it came to year 12 and choosing subjects, I had stacked my schedule with my other passion, in sport. You see all my friends had dreams of studying close to home, some of those friends wanted to also study sport, or sports management, or PE teaching, the same things I was interested in pursuing at the time. The thought of keeping the same friendships from high school into university, hanging out in the library, having friends on campus. going to all the super cool parties seemed like a perfect situation. So, I set my sights on the same dream. That was until about half way through my final year of high school and I realised that if I was about to do something that didn’t involve being creative for 3 years, and furthermore go on to a career that didn’t require me to use my creativity, I may go a little crazy. I will never forget walking into my careers councillors office that day and telling her I wanted to apply for Photography courses. the response she gave me however took me by surprise, “maybe you should choose something a little bit “more stable”. I mean she was right, job opportunities as a freelancer, weren’t exactly abundant, we were always told to choose teaching, or nursing or something that was always going to be required. but we were also never told about the careers of freelancers, and how exactly that worked. Anyway,  contrary to this careers councilor’s advice I applied to all the photography courses I could find, none in which involved staying close to home, or studying with any one of my friends from high school, I spent every waking hour compiling a folio to show I would be a good fit to my prospective lecturers, I went to Melbourne by myself to attend a folio viewing and interview, and two days before my English exam a letter confirming my position in the course arrived.

 

After graduation I had decided that instead of partaking in the usual Lorne or Gold Coast trip for Schoolies with my friends, I bought tickets to Falls Festival in Lorne over new year’s, and would celebrate the momentous occasion of leaving school by going to my first major music festival. I would end up taking my DSLR and documenting the artist I saw over the 5 days, I didn’t have a press pass, nor did you need one to bring a DSLR along to the festival at the time. So, every day I would make a list of the artist I wanted to see, get to the barrier early and would stand on the crowd side of the barrier and capture the performers on stage. I was totally mesmerised by the artists running around and doing the thing that they loved the most. But the other thing that caught my eye, where the 40 – 50 photographers on the other side of the fence. I turned to my friend at one point and said one day I’m going to be there, pointing in the direction of the 2-meter-wide fenced area that resembled a cattle pen of photographers. 


My First Week of my Photography Course

For the next two years I studied 5 days a week in Melbourne, commuting every day back and forth to Geelong, working part time and I had just landed my first position as a contributor for a music publication, which of course was unpaid. I would attend class till 5pm learning darkroom chemistry, and inverse square law and then head to any number of the Melbourne venues to capture shows. Music photography was my escape, it was my chance to break all the technical rules my lecturers told me not to.


 One day in class my lecturer posed the question of what type of photography we would all like to pursue after the course, my peers listed off commercially viable options, real estate, weddings, portraits, family’s my turn came and I said without hesitation music, I want to document musicians, to which the lecturer replied, “that isn’t a real type of photography”. Now at this point I had faced this sort of dismissive comment before, that careers councilor, some of my former high school friends, but still I was determined to prove this lecturer, and everyone else wrong.


By the 2nd year of my studies, I had started to take on more publications and photographing higher profile bands, and still to my lecturers dismay, music photography was not a genre. My very first day of second year our head lecturer walked in and told us that one of you would make it, the rest of you will go back to your part time jobs.

when this lecturer addressed the group of students, never in their wildest dreams did they think that one person would be me. I was the youngest in the class, and my peers had concluded that I was from a small regional place compared to Brunswick and Collingwood.

 


I captured everything from flowers, to cereal boxes, real estate to close ups of bugs throughout my course, but at any opportunity to photograph our own subject matter I would, many of my self-driven projects showcased music and friends who were musicians.



Images captured at The Pulse - Altitude, Shaun Kirk, Famous Will, Grim Fawkner, RDZJB


Throughout studies I was also building a new little community of people around me. On a weekly basis I was making more and more friends in the music industry in Geelong, the advantage of a small town is that everyone knows everyone. I was volunteering at the Pulse taking photos of live guests on a show on Thursday afternoon, and on a weekly basis I would meet 1,2, 3 more people within the industry, who would introduce me to 2 – 3 more friends who were also in the music industry. By the end of the year, I had met so many incredible musicians, radio presenters, sound engineers, and venue owners. I felt like I was part of this little community of like-minded people, something I didn’t feel like I had in Melbourne. I was very much a small fish in a small pond at home, but in Melbourne I was an even smaller fish in a very very very large pond.

by the end of my 2 years of study I had managed to become a contributor for 10 more publications, and had photographed Matt Corby, Bliss + Eso, Goyte, Good Charlotte,  Bluejuice and more.


In December, my lecturers wished me good luck on my pursuit to make it in the music industry and waved goodbye as I carried my prints and camera out the door.

 

Over the next few years I continued to make friends within my local community, shooting shows for free just to get my skills up and my name out there. There was one venue in Geelong however, that would always make my job difficult. The artist would put me on the door list to gain access to the show, and every time this venue owner would swear, I was not on the list, often resulting in me having to touch base with the band or the management. Every time it was resolved but the interaction was wearing thin.

Kyle Taylor, RDZJB, Alister Turrill, The Run, Rach Brennan


My next life lesson, that when you get too big for the small pond, relocate.


I was sick of having to constantly have this conversation every time I went to shoot a show, so I applied to shoot for bigger publications, and landed positions at both The Music and Beat Magazine, two of the biggest street presses in Melbourne. I started to photograph large bands, international bands, in bigger venues, which in turn had better lighting, which meant I was producing better work.


Pictured Top to bottom, left to right: Florence and the Machine, Hilltop Hoods, James Bay, Bugs, Hilltop Hoods, Mumford and Sons, Bluejuice, Ed Sheeran, Franz Fernahand, Chvrches, Alabama Shakes.


Every week I would scourer Geelong to find copies of The Music and Beat to see if my work had been published. Picking up a physical street press was always a thrill, turning the pages to find the live review section and seeing your name in print.


I was also contributing to a few small blogs at the time as well, one of which was called The Casual Band Blogger. They had a great team and I made friends with the editor Gemma, who was also a mad footy fan. Gemma invited me to come along to a show she was reviewing at the palais some of her friends from Sydney where the support act and she thought I would enjoy them.

 

So, I showed up and shot the show, met the band afterwards and had chat.

 

This band kept coming back and playing shows every couple of months in Melbourne, and they would stay at Gemma’s house when they were in town. They would often offer to put me on the door, and I would take my camera along to shoot. I was always, and still am a little awkward at shows without my camera, it’s like my safety blanket. This band was pretty good, they weren’t selling out shows, but they were always really energetic on stage and a really nice bunch of guys. They would always invite me for dinner or a drink after the show. There was even one show they played here in Geelong where they pulled up in a tour bus and I took them to Mexican graffiti for dinner.

This Band was none other than 4 times ARIA award winning Gang Of Youths.


 But they were just a group of guys I had made friends with over the years.

 

I had photographed shows with 50 people in the room, and then saw them sell out Rod Laver Arena twice. I recall moments where Dave was about to walk on stage at laneway and spotted me walking towards the stage, he stopped everything ran down the stairs and sprinted across the car park to give me a hug, or the time

where I was in a crowd of 200 photographers at the aria awards and the band spotted me and where pointing and carrying on, that same night I was at the bar and Dave spear tackled me in front of all of the most important music execs and labels. Or at laneway 2019 when Dave walked on stage and spotted me in the photo pit, he waved and was trying to ask how I was, the girls behind me in the crowd thought he was waving to them.

 

Relationships like this with artists was something I held so close, being trusted to be in their inner sanctum and documenting everything, but most of all genuinely being friends with these people and celebrating their wins.





Gemma also was a big fan of Boy and Bear, and one day she had asked me if I was available to come to Melbourne to shoot some portraits of them to go with a interview she was doing. We were one of only 2 publications allowed to take photos of the guys and had 10 minutes to do so. We arrived to Sony Head office, a stark white office building in South Melbourne. at this point I wasn’t sure what I was going to be able to do in terms of interesting backgrounds, Em the PR representative asked if we would like to see the back-alley way that had some cool textures and I said YES PLEASE!

 

The guys where at the end of a long press day, talking to 100s of people about the release of their album, so making this as painless as possible was high on the agenda. I directed them and got thru the shoot with 3 minutes to spare, the very last thing I did was take a polaroid of the band and handed it to them, they were so appreciative, and Jon a very good photographer in his own right was asking all about the camera.


I sent the photos to Em the next day and got a phone call within moments, she wanted to use the photos for lead press images for their campaign as they were better than what they currently had. A few weeks went by and when I went scouring Geelong for a copy of beat magazine there, I found a A3 glossy cover with my image of boy and bear on the front. I think I cried for a good 10 minute when I picked it up off the street, my first cover image on a publication.



Many years later I got a cold email from a manager that was looking for a last minute photographer to capture boy and bear at a festival, I of course agreed and headed along. I had photographed the boys a few times since, but never directly for them. Instantly upon being introduced, they remembered me from the shoot and asked all about what had been going on, there was an instant level of trust and I went on to work with them a few more times since.

Over the years I’ve been able to photograph so many incredible artists, but the pivotal moment in my career was in 2014, 4 years after I went to Falls for Schoolies, I attended as a photographer for the very first time.  I could not believe that in 4 years, I had achieved the goal I had set myself. At festivals like this there are media rooms, where reviewers and photographers hang out.

 


This year was the first year of many that I went to falls with a little team, at the time they where

friends I had made over the years shooting shows, Gemma who was the editor of the Casual Band Blogger and now analyst/journalist at the AFL, Expert Commentator for the ABC and founder of Siren: A women in sport collective, Bridget Hustwaite a reviewer and interviewer for AU review now  former Triple J Host, TV Presenter and  Author, Sose Fuamoli music journalist at the AU Review now, broadcaster , journalist for Triple J and Rolling Stone just to name a few. What I didn’t know back then was that I was surrounded by some of now the most powerful and incredible females in the industry.

 

The lesson: the leap of faith to pursue bigger opportunities paid off.

 

For years I was consistently shooting big shows at large venues, getting to go to the biggest festivals like Bluesfest, Falls and A Day On The Green. I was being booked by local artists to cover small shows and take press work every now and again but not consistently. I was feeling a little stuck, publications where shutting given the lack of payment for anyone, venues where closing and bands were moving to Melbourne or disbanding. I was feeling a little apprehensive about continuing in the industry, often you hear people in the industry say they are doing it for the love of it and for many including my self was true, I was considering taking a step back and re assessing what I was doing. Then COVID hit. For 3 years I had to take a step back because no shows where happening, musicians didn’t need me or my services and everyone was contained in their houses. I didn’t know if this would be the end of my career in music. I started a personal project recording live performances of musicians in their homes to learn some video skills, and to keep me active. Throughout those 3 or so years I had beaten myself up for ever taking the opportunities I had been given for granted, Slowly things started to open back up and the very last thing to come back was music.

My first show was the Foo Fighters in Geelong right here.



I remember having to Covid test in front of the touring companies rep to prove we where well enough to shoot, the show was amazing the rain started just before their set, and every piece of very expensive camera equipment was getting soaked, but I did not care. We were back, I was back doing what I loved and I was never going to take that for granted again.

 

The next few months I became busier than I had ever been, jobs and cool opportunities kept rolling in and i kept taking on everything I could.

Portraits of Seth Sentry at his house for Rolling Stone and Yamaha yes, a band from Nashville are doing 2 shows and your sound engineer friend can get you an opportunity to photograph, sure, backstage portraits and show at Margaret Court Arena, I’m there, I thought that at some point it would die down but to this day it hasn’t, Covid was the hard reset I needed, and possibly saved my career.


Life lesson: sometimes you need to step away from the thing you love to reevaluate and re fall in love with it

 

The last few years have been some of my most successful I guess from an external view; I have positioned myself as one of the top Music Photographers in Melbourne due to hard work and constantly honing my craft. You see I still work with grass roots and local friends on their shows, press work and social media, it’s just within the same week I am also photographing international artists on multi leg tours. For me I think the reason for this newfound momentum is the fact I’ve stopped constantly comparing myself, and just creating how I want to create. Early on I was so worried about following the trends in the industry, or using the same editing style as someone else who was more successful than me. Trying to keep up with every photographer on social media, or photographing the biggest artist possible who was coming through town that month. But the moment I started not worrying about everyone else around me was the moment I found my place within the music landscape. Making incredible images for local artists was sometimes even more rewarding than making them for huge rockstars, it was building those relationships and working together on everything, investing time in the project and relationship you are building.

 

In the last year I have met and worked with so many incredible artists, I had my image used for a piece of merch for an international band, I filmed my first music video on film and it aired on MTV, I’ve worked on a bunch of different theatre shows , I presented two solo exhibitions, Live! And Retrospect 001, Retrospect being comprised of 250 pieces of my work housed at Platform Arts, I released my first self published Zine, was a finalist in the 2023 Australian Women in Music awards, and received the Ross Lipson Award for recognition of work in the local music industry, something that is one of my most treasured moments in my career.

 


I think a common trend within the spaces I occupied, is the lack of girls, weather that is being the only female within the crew, only female in the pit, or the only girl on the media team. Over the years I have met so many photographers that have the same experience as me, and these girls have become some of my closest and best friends.

I’m headed to Sydney tomorrow to spend the weekend with my best friend who I met at Groovin the Moo, over this time I’ve learnt that we have to support and build each other up, not tear each other down.


I have also over the last year or two been so incredibly lucky to produce work for so many incredible female artists in the community, Hassall, Maddy Jackway, The Sweethearts, Riordan, Nikki Wishart, Libby Steel, Darcy fox, Rose Bassett, Jasmine Matthews, Maddy Petch, Maz Green, Bella Deer, Bec Sykes the list goes on. Photographing big name artists at stadium shows is incredible don’t get me wrong, but being able to be back in the small pond, supporting and documenting the incredible artists and friends around me is something that is so special to me and something I will never cease to do.


I also love working with my industry girls the likes of Bridie at the Barwon club, Tahlia from Forte Magazine, Rach at Sofar Sounds Geelong, Jena from the Real Song Writers of Melbourne. There are so many fierce females within the music industry that I’m so fortunate to call my friends, and I’m so lucky to have them clapping the loudest for all of my accomplishments, as I am for theirs.

 

So what are the lessons I’ve learn, well If the Taylor Swift concert and the concept of being in this girlhood era is anything to go by, we are more powerful together than we are alone. Sharing in this experience, supporting one another, lifting each other up and cheering the loudest for each others achievements is the way to build a community and a strong one at that.

 

For me, the last 14 years have been a rollercoaster, a lot of hard work, and standing up for what I believed in, pushing down barriers, and proving I am good enough to both myself and others, constantly battling the idea that my job is harder because of my gender. But I have also had incredible experiences since I was 17 because I chose this path, I have seen thousands of incredible artists, met some incredible people, been pushed out of my comfort zone, been fortunate enough to travel for work and have a lot of fun doing what I love.

 

 The list of accolades on my resume is a reflection of the things I have achieved on a personal level but the thing that I am most proud of is when I get emails from young girls wanting to chat for a school assignment about my journey in the music industry, or the Instagram DM from the girl who wants to ask how she can do what I’m doing, or the girl who comes up to me at a show and says how much she likes my work and how she’s been following my journey for years. The most rewarding thing to me is inspiring other girls to go out and follow their dreams, to do whatever it is they want to do.

 



Now to touch on all of those negative experiences throughout this story, I’ve never run into the careers councillor again, but I’m sure word got back I did in fact do photography. The lecturer that told me music photography wasn’t a genre invited me back to talk to their current students a few years later to talk about my work, the venue owner since put me on the door for every show they hosted, and ensured I could do my job, the high school friends that told me I wouldn’t make it in photography, well they watched me accept an award on stage last year.

 

So, the lessons I want you to take away from today, and what I learnt over the years, pursue what makes you happy, surround yourself with positive and supportive people, always support your fellow females in any industry, and keep persisting and pursuing what you want, it will always work out in the end.

 

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