Bernie McGann (c) Bruce HartHere is a name that MANY Australian photographers will tip their hat to.

As a photographer, teacher, mentor, friend and general shit stirrer he has opened doors for so many people. He pops up in so many people’s photographic lives that ‘6 degrees from Bruce’ would be a fun game to get into around the world.

Known as, for want of a title, a social documentary photographer, he has in the past embarked on long term projects photographing individuals in Australia that entered his life at particular points. The saxophonist Bernie McGann probably found himself in front of Bruce’s lens for longer than many careers last.

When I speak to Bruce (well, email is as close as we have got to a conversation for a while) I hear excitement about the Australian landscape. His trip years ago with Murray Fredericks (www.murrayfredericks.com) to Lake Eyre still crops up in his stories.

I’ve only seen a few prints of the Aussie landscape project that he has been working away on for some time. I assume he holds the pictures fairly close to his chest, and I’m probably not someone he would show for early reactions. Still, what I have seen certainly holds promise, and I hope he continues. The distance from the continent that he has might bring an unexpected benefit to the work. Next time I see him I’ll try and pry some more prints out of his files.

Bernie McGann (c) Bruce HartHe is now over the moon happy in Iowa (USA) with his amazing wife Cheryl. I was lucky to visit them in early 2007 not long after they were married, surprising Bruce on a cold, snow-covered day. We sat in their home telling stories, scheming, rubbishing other people and laughing at ourselves. He was finding his way in a very different setting, I was just back from my last trip to Iraq. We were a funny pair, two Australians out of place on the flat plains of middle America giggling away like school kids.

Bruce and Cheryl made a HUGE leap to get to where they are alongside each other. The story of their meeting and the subsequent events is one to be told by them over drinks or a great meal (the tale is definitely owned by them alone). Suffice to say that throwing yourself headlong into something without reservation has been shown to have rewards unimagined. With a new house to make their own the next few years will no doubt be full of excitement and adventure.

So, I tip my hat to Bruce, my friend, mentor, teacher and a general trouble maker. Thanks for getting me into the smelly darkroom. Thanks for showing me Brandt. Thanks for showing me Koudelka. Thanks for introductions that have taken me, camera in hand, across the globe.

Thanks for being a real prick when I needed that kick in the arse.

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