During the past 17 years I’ve worked on 101 issues of OUTBACK magazine. 

Story + Photos Mark Muller

In many ways it feels like the blink of an eye – a click of the lens. These photos are a selection from across those years, as chosen by our art director Peter Pap, with a bit of input from me. We looked for a spread that covers the range of time, space, place, people and subject matters that I’ve been lucky enough to point a camera at thanks to this very rewarding aspect of my professional life. 

I was never much of a photographer prior to joining OUTBACK. I’d trained as a writer, and worked and travelled for years without carrying a camera, let alone concentrating on trying to capture or express elusive moments and emotions with photos. I soon realised that I’d have to lift my game and learn to use a camera properly. There were too many opportunities going begging, and OUTBACK’s photography is a key part of its beauty and resonance. 

This realisation was driven by practical considerations in the first instance. It’s a lot cheaper and logistically simpler to send one person who can write and take photos into remote areas than it is to send two people to do the work. There’s also the physical space you occupy – a ute only has two seats; same for a small chopper. When you’re a guest on a station, or a tourism operation, or spending time with people in their homes and country, you’re only taking up one bed, and eating for one. 

I also like travelling alone. I always have liked it. I can concentrate on what I’m doing and who I’m with, and generally prefer not be distracted by managing or accommodating anything other than the task at hand.

From these practical considerations a broader aesthetic sensibility grew. I developed an enjoyment of the way driving a camera makes me really look at things – at light, at country, at people and places, and the interrelationship between it all. It’s useful: I’m a better writer for being a photographer, and a better photographer for being a writer. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #130

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2020