Renowned photographer Nick Rains has experienced a career that those of us chained to our work desks merely dream about. Frequently skipping across continents, Nick has spent much of his life scouring the globe in search of perfect moments to capture with his lens, all in the name of documentary photography.
Having initially worked within a range of subjects from sport to fashion and even celebrities, today he specialises in travel, cultural and landscape work – a speciality which has seen the talented photographer forge a long, successful career within a tough and demanding industry. Nick’s work can be regularly seen amongst the pages of well-known publications such as Australian Geographic, Australian Photography Magazine and Sports Illustrated.
His latest projects, two hardback books titled Desert Australia and Tropical Australia respectively, are set for release this October. Click by click, together the collection of photographs take us on a journey through the rich diversity of Australia’s outback and tropics.
“They are a celebration of Australia and what there is to see in those outer regions.
“Deserts are mysterious places. Arid and dry, it’s a wonder how they sustain life – and yet they are anything but lifeless.”
Despite achieving success and longevity in his chosen field, a career path in photography was not something Nick had originally planned for. With an undisputed passion for the outdoors and an admitted reluctance to enter the ‘real world’, he initially completed an Honours Degree in Zoology. It was during this time the budding photographer began exploring life behind the lens, although not for the reason you would expect.
“I sort of fell into [photography] at university. I started taking pictures for the local university magazine and at the time I just thought it was a good way of getting in to see free bands perform!” jokes Nick.
Not long after graduating he realised his true passion in photography and undertook a Diploma to harness his skills. Fortunately, despite switching career paths Nick has since found his original degree to not have been entirely in vain.
“My zoology degree actually put me in good stead. I do a lot of work for Australian Geographic and work with scientists out in the field, so it’s nice to be able to talk and actually have a meaningful conversation.”
Skip to present day and the world of photography has undergone a drastic makeover. Developing film has long become a novel practice from the past with the snapping, filtering and uploading of digital images very much a reality. Surprisingly, Nick doesn’t perceive these new technologies as a threat to his industry in any substantial way.
“The influx of smartphones and digital photography tools is something that people with my industry wrestle with. We like to think that we can see a little bit better than your average person photographically, but the spontaneity of iPhone photography is something that you can’t ignore.
“What we see through social media is valid as a creative expression but different to photography as a profession. It is a very, very interesting phenomenon and is something that has to be taken into consideration, but I don’t find it affects my work at the moment.”
For Nick, the art of photography extends far beyond the click of a button or capturing a beautiful landscape. What captivates him is being able to document a unique moment in time and being able to share that experience with others.
“Documentary photography is all about sharing these incredible experiences and documenting people and their lifestyles more than anything else. Landscape photography is definitely secondary to the social and cultural work that I do. Photography is all about people I think, and everything else falls behind that in a supporting role”
The extensive travel also holds a strong appeal for the photographer who couldn’t imagine a life being stationed behind a desk and computer.
“On Friday, I leave for Melbourne, then I’m off to England followed by Germany, Iceland, Botswana and Namibia,” he says spiritedly.
As for the rest of us, his spectacular photographs will have to suffice!
‘Desert Australia’ and ‘Tropical Australia’ are available for purchase from October.