The A-List: Life is beautiful through Abigail Varney's lens

July 22, 2014
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Hijacked presents The A-List, a series that delves into the ideas, influences and idiosyncrasies of arty folk.

The world looks delightful through Abigail Varney’s lens. People look even better. Sometimes the Melbourne-based photographer crafts the kind of kooky, quasi-nostalgic images you’d find in Frankie magazine. There’s singers like Lorde, fashionable folk in colourful clothing, suburban wanderings, international adventures and worlds that are at once contemporary and far away in space and time. In more recent times, Abi has also captured Nepal’s transgender in a pretty sweet series called METIS. Hijacked chatted with the Australian creative about life through her lens.

HJCKD: At what point did you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do in for a living’?

Abigail Varney: It was only about two years ago when I couldn't serve another decaf soy latte. I wanted to give photography a real chance. 

Being a photographer is a constant balance that I'm getting better and better at. Sometimes you can't predict when work or creative flow will come up, but that’s the choice you make at the beginning. 
HJCKD: How did you start taking photos and at what point did you learn professionally?

AV: I started talking photos when I went to India. It’s the perfect destination to take your camera everywhere and learn on instinct. There’s a magical scene around every corner. Starting professionally is a bit of a blur. Getting an ABN number helped this process. 

HJCKD: What’s your favourite piece of equipment?

AV: Definitely my 35mm fixed lens. It gets you out of every tight scenario. I prefer digital, just because it's what I know, but I always keep film in the back pocket. 

HJCKD: Do you have to get to know your subject to take good photos of them?

AV: Not necessarily. The biggest thing I've learned for taking a portrait of someone I don't know is to arrive at the shoot positive, open and confident. I also try to match their energy on the day and not to take it too seriously. 

HJCKD: What is one of your favourite photos you’ve taken that has a story behind it?

AV: My most recent favourite photo is a shot I took in Coober Pedy of my friend Ashe. It was the last night of our adventure and we'd climbed up on a hill and watched the sunset. The colours were in perfect sync with her outfit. Pink dirt, pink lighting, and a pink and red jumpsuit. Perfection. 

Every photo will have its challenges. It could be the idea you had in your head is not matching with the outcome, lighting can sometimes be a hurdle or the equipment at hand can sometimes hinder your ideas.  

HJCKD: If you could do a portrait of any person, who would it be and why?

AV: I'd love to shoot Ricky Gervais, just for the jokes really, and because he is such a playful lunatic. 

HJCKD: What are your top 5 A-Listers of the creative world?

AV: Painter Lani Mitchell, all round legend Sarah Trotter, artist Claire Falkiner, writer Ashe Davenport and graphic designer Adelaide Daniell.


You can view Abigail's work on her website.