Sunshine Photo Project - meet the photographers

SBS Learn
19 Oct 2017 - 11:31 AM  UPDATED 19 Oct 2017 - 4:32 PM

To celebrate the launch of SBS’s new drama series, Sunshine, SBS teamed up the Centre for Contemporary Photography and Brimbank City Council to give eight aspiring photographers a chance to tell the story of their community through images. 

‘Vietnam, Sunshine and Me’ by Anh Phan

Anh Phan is a young emerging artist based in Sunshine, in Melbourne’s west.

Her photography explores the diversity in Sunshine, driven by her fascination in exploring and understanding different cultures living and thriving together. Influenced by her Vietnamese heritage, she seeks to document the ways the Vietnamese community is represented in Sunshine – in particular; how it holds on to identity, tradition, food and language.

‘Vietnam, Sunshine and Me’ was captured over a month in various locations in Sunshine, including her family home.

Through the snippets of the Vietnamese community in Sunshine, she aims to show her pride in her bicultural identity. She hopes that her work invokes others to celebrate and embrace their cultural identities.

Anh Phan was born and raised in Sunshine and currently teaches English to newly arrived refugees and migrants. 

‘Perspective’ by Wally Elnour

Wally’s photography explores change and diversity in Sunshine located in Melbourne’s west.

Drawing on Wally’s Sudanese heritage, he uses photography as a way to interrogate the world around him. A newcomer to the medium, experimentation is central to his practice. 

This series captures Sunshine train station. Wally is intrigued by the people that meet, commute and congregate at the station – a microcosm of Sunshine itself. The images were taken over a week at different times of the day.

Wally Elnour is a basketball player and actor who currently stars in the SBS drama series, Sunshine

‘Sunshine #FFFF00’ by Paul Ambler

Paul Ambler has been taking photos for the past decade. He uses photography as a means to document the places that invoke his curiosity, making pictures that bring attention to things that are often overlooked; the ordinary, mundane, strange or quirky. His photography is influenced by urban landscapes, preserving the past and visual representations of subject matters that are often neglected.

His photographs mostly depict urban exploration, with a particular interest in abandoned and derelict buildings and houses, capturing the beauty in the loneliness and often decay.

Ambler also has a keen interest in street photography, natural landscapes, and preserving memories of people and places that will one day be forgotten. His style depicts clean lines and capturing mood through lighting, framing and composition.

His photo series about Sunshine depicts the visual representation of what's in a name in an abstract manner within its local surrounds and the pride residents have in the suburb’s name and the imagery the challenge the preconceptions people may have about Sunshine.

Paul Ambler is tradesman who lives in the suburb next to Sunshine and spends a lot of time in the area. He is based in Ardeer.

‘Shining Stars’ by Shannyn Lee Ducret

Shannyn Lee Ducret grew up in the Sunshine area and is an aspiring filmmaker who stumbled upon photography between projects.

Having specialised in Screenwriting, she enjoys the fact that photography permits the freedom to tell a story within an instant. Her passion is growing for the medium and she would like to further pursue portraiture and sports photography. 

In ‘Shining Stars’, Ducret focuses on the various faces of everyday people in Sunshine. She is interested in capturing the heart of these people and giving them a moment to shine.

“I want the viewer to ‘experience’ my work. I want them to feel something when looking at the piece, whether it be through words, film or still photography… I want to capture truth and share it with the world.” 

‘The natural, the constructed and the in-between’ by Stuart Murdoch

Stuart Murdoch is an artist who has lived in Sunshine for 16 years. His interests lie in how the landscape is moulded and remodelled by humans. Over the course of this project he has seen numerous rabbits, birds, including ‘Stuart’ the local duck, a brown snake, a feral cat and a swarm of bees. He tries to counter the sentimental view that urban living is an anathema to the wild or 'natural'. Nature is energy and struggle, it exists without promise and when its in the mood, it can soothe and heal, other times it can destroy and disrupt.

Stuart believes in photography's capacity for positive change, especially to change our awareness of beauty and hope. Nothing inspires him more than the tenacity of trees. From his work, he hopes to bring about a discussion about who we are in this modern era and how this is reflected in our land use.

In this digital era of high speed transmissions and heavily edited imagery, he believes people have less faith in photography. Stuart's work is never edited in this way, rather his truth is when seeing beauty, to record and share it. Despite only referencing a single vantage point and a fleeting moment in time, Stuart hopes to deliver a sight that is memorable. Nothing delights him more than seeing a beautiful print of the often overlooked parts of Sunshine that make it unique.

‘Kept’ by Rachel Pocock

Rachel moved to Sunshine at 6 months of age and lived there until she was 34 years old. Being if a working class Anglo Saxon decent, the focus of her work is to capture a glimpse the first working class culture of Sunshine created through HV McKay and his wheat harvesting industry.

As Sunshine has now become a cultural melting pot, Rachel felt it important to capture the historical working class roots of Sunshine. Established prior to the migration period experienced in 1950s to the current day. 

Rachel grew up in a home Californian bungalow, these homes were commission homes of wheat workers. Her first bond with the locality. 

Rachel has also worked as a youth worker in the old Harvestor factory, now Sunshine Visy Cares Hub.

‘The Arc of Sunshine’ by Deng Amad

Deng Amad is an emerging photographer who predominantly focuses on portraiture.

In his photo series, he documents Sunshine train station, specifically the architecture of the building.  Amad is fascinated by this structure that has thousands of people commuting there on a daily basis.

Amad regularly visits Sunshine to spend time with friends and family and the station is a constant part of that experience.

Deng Amad is an artist, singer and photographer of South Sudanese heritage based in Melbourne.

‘Out with the old, in with the New’ by Piath Mathiang

Piath’s lived in Braybrook for 12 years and watched Sunshine change dramatically over this time. Whether it is for the best or not, she is certain we will find out down the track.

From her observations, she’s noticed all the changes throughout and around the station have made Sunshine appear more happy and ‘sunny’. There are now more colours and bigger buildings that attract people, the station is much more bigger and can allow more people to come in and out of Sunshine. There is more grass, light and happiness in the new Sunshine so perhaps it is for the better.

In her images she captures moments that show a contrast between 'old Sunshine' and 'new Sunshine'.

Sunshine Photo Project thanks

Huge thanks to the community of Sunshine, Brimbank City Council and the Centre for Contemporary Photography for helping SBS make this photo project possible! As well artists Ben King, Atong Atem and journalist Santilla Chingaipe who helped with the workshops.

Check out the gallery here.

About the series

Sunshine is a four-part drama series set in the working class Melbourne suburb of Sunshine. It is in this humble suburb that our South Sudanese protagonist, Jacob Garang, resides; a star basketballer with dreams of becoming a pro-basketball player.

Running parallel to Jacob’s sporting aspirations and life within Sunshine’s South Sudanese community is a high-stakes criminal investigation. Police are hunting down the perpetrator of a violent assault, which has left a young teenage girl from the prestigious suburb of Templestowe in a coma fighting for her life.

Sunshine is a vibrant, kinetic and compelling hybrid drama that explores a world of contrasts - truth and reconstruction, past and present, hope and heartbreak – felt by those forging a new life in a foreign land.

The series airs over two weeks premiering Wednesday 18 October at 8.30pm and Thursday 19 October, and continues on Wednesday 25 October and Thursday 26 October at 8.30pm on SBS. Missed an episode? Catch it on SBS On Demand.