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INSPIRING INDIVIDUALS: Drew Hopper

Drew Hopper’s photography captures the ethereal majesty of Earth’s natural landscapes and transports us to a world we might recognise from The Lorax and Avatar.

It captures movement and stillness equally, and uses natural light as its dominant voice.

A native Australian, his love for his homeland is evident and he spends a lot of time travelling to the country’s coastlines and forest pockets to not only capture the magic, but to spend time connecting, looking inward, and being soothed by nature.

He takes his passion seriously and is always in pursuit of magnificent landscapes, or getting close enough to the Australian lyrebird to photograph it in all its beauty.

We were thrilled to talk to a fellow Earth-lover and understand a bit more about his artistry. 

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Drew, and I’m a freelance documentary photographer from the regional coastal town of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, Australia.

I’m a regular contributor for Australian Geographic covering assignments throughout Australia.

I specialise in documentary photography focusing on ecological themes. I’m committed to documenting social, cultural and environmental stories around the world.

I love to experiment with different genres and techniques, however, I always find myself returning to my roots as a landscape photographer.

Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?

I really don’t like talking about myself from a professional standpoint, it’s not one of my strengths that’s for sure, but here goes. I’m fortunate enough to call myself a professional photographer for over a decade now. I specialise in numerous genres of photography ranging from landscape, street, travel, portraiture and most recently expanding into documentary and conservation.

When I’m home in Australia I spend a great deal of my time working for various publications whether on assignment for Australian Geographic, documenting a feature story or writing a feature article for Australia’s best-selling photography publication Australian Photography magazine.

Over the course of a decade, I’ve been returning to Asia, running photo workshops alongside other photographers focused on travel, street and visual storytelling.

In 2016 I curated the Travel Photographer Society photo awards exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was also part of the jury panel judging the awards and work with various organisations as a judge for photography competitions.

I sell fine art prints and can be contacted via email should you be interested in purchasing a print.

What or who in your life influenced you to pursue this route?

There have been many influences and they’re constantly changing as my vision expands.

My biggest source of inspiration comes from the solitude that nature delivers.

My work is very elemental and I find that various elements of the environment in which I stand have a big influence on how I interpret and document my surrounds.

I try to photograph feelings, whether its the wind roaring through the canopy, the tranquil sound of water as flows gently downstream or the winter mists enveloping the forest, it’s always about evoking a sense of what it felt to be in a place at a particular moment in time.

Currently, what is the inspiration that keeps you motivated and passionate about your work?

Nature continues to be my greatest source of inspiration.

The natural world has so much on offer - often just slowing down to take it in is all you need to do to become inspired. 

What is the most impactful aspect of your work?

The pursuit of exquisite natural light and form of the landscape are probably the two most impactful elements of my photography.

My approach is from a perceptual methodology achieved by expressing the love of things I’m passionate about and allowing my audience to connect and take away something unique to the individual.

I look for a sense of mystery in the landscape that encapsulates how I felt at the time of making the work.

If I can make people feel something, then that to me is an impactful success. 

Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why?

My favourite destination outside of my home country would have to be Vietnam.

I love the hustle and bustle of the cities and the serenity of the rural lifestyle in northern Vietnam. As a whole, it has a lot to offer photographers, ranging from street photography through to nature and landscape opportunities.

I have also made many wonderful friendships so it feels like home whenever I visit. Oh, and the food is incredible! 

Tell us about your strangest experience while traveling?

There are so many weird and wonderful travel moments that it's difficult to pinpoint the strangest experience.

One of the wildest countries I’ve visited would have to be Bangladesh. It’s a place of extreme poverty and riches which make for an intensely diverse sensory overload.

I remember jumping onto a tiny wooden boat and crossing the river in Dhaka while massive ships come within meters of hitting us.

Nothing can really prepare you for the sights, sounds and smells.

It’s an amazing place for travel photography and has very few tourists compared to other Asian countries - I rate it highly for a once in a lifetime trip.

Why do you feel that wildlife conservation is important?

Wildlife conservation is vital in ensuring the survival and diversity of the ecosystems.

Promoting biodiversity is paramount for a healthy and fully functional ecosystem, and as human beings, we have the power to preserve these places for future generations. By doing so, we give the flora and fauna the best opportunity to thrive.

Photography has the power to address the issues and raise awareness about topics such as climate change. 

What is your favorite Wild in Africa bracelet style and why?

The Indonesian lava and brass bracelet for it’s earthy and rustic tones.

I love how the brass compliments the lava to give it a beautiful organic feeling.

Could you share the story behind your favourite landscape photograph you've taken?

There isn’t much of a story to my favourite landscape image other than my love for the rainforest and photographing trees.

This image was captured during one of my first visits to New England National Park, Australia. The park is only an hours drive from home so I spend a lot of time wandering the trails.

The Antarctic Beech forest (Nothofagus Moorei) reminds me of a fictional wonderland, almost like something from the book The Lorax.

The form of the branches draped in green moss is what captivated me at first and since then I’ve always been drawn to shooting just that. 

Do you have a favorite place or subject to photograph?

I have many areas close to home that I spend a lot of my time wandering, photographing and enjoying.

The Antarctic Beech forests are some of my favourite places to photograph. I’m obsessed with winter mist, trees and rolling mountain vistas.

I also enjoy the coastline documenting the elements of the ocean, wind, water and sun but I’m most happy working in the wilderness.

Are there any animals you feel especially passionate about?

Spending a lot of time in the forest, I happen to notice the beauty of the lyrebird, which would be one of my favourite Australian native birds.

I find them mysterious and majestic as they’re quite difficult to get up close with let alone photograph.

The most notable is their ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their environment. The male also has a striking fan-like tail that fans out during courtship display.

I hope one day to capture this majestic bird in its natural habitat. 

 

Can you share your future plans and hopes for yourself?

I live from day to day and don’t really expect too much in life. My main hope is that I’m still as passionate and inspired to create the work I love to make today.

I hope that the world wakes up and starts to realise the importance of conservation so that we can continue to enjoy the natural wonders that our beautiful planet has on offer.

Hopefully my landscape photography acts as a reminder to influence and inspire the change needed to preserve the environment.

My ultimate personal goal is to build my dream home nestled in the forest with my wife so we can live in harmony with nature and continue fulfilling a healthier and environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

Website: www.drewhopper.com
Instagram: @drewhopper (www.instagram.com/drewhopper)
Facebook: www.facebook.com/drewhopperphotography

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