LH Woman : Marley Morgan

LH Woman : Marley Morgan
Meet Marley Morgan; Photographer, mother and proud Wiradjuri / Yuwaalaraay Woman. We had a wonderful chat to Marley about her work, how she got into photography, what inspires her and more. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to let me introduce you to my community. I’d love for you to tell us all a bit more about yourself. Who are you? What you do and what takes up most of your day to day?

My name is Marley Morgan I am a proud Wiradjuri/ Yuwaalaraay woman and mother to three handsome sons. With three boys under the age of six, it goes without saying that most of my time and energy goes into bringing them up happy and strong. I am also the owner and photographer of Barefoot Wandering Photography, my passion project turned business.

You are such a talented photographer; I’d love for you to share a bit about your journey in how you became one.

Ever since I could remember I have always had a love for taking pictures. Growing up I always had some form of a camera whether it was a polaroid or a disposable camera.
I always loved documenting moments such a friend’s birthdays, sleep overs and portraits of my loved ones. I purchased my first DSLR camera after the birth of my first son in 2016. I wanted to capture all of his milestones. My love for photography grew and I began to explore different styles of photography. I began photographing nature and wildlife which then went on to photographing people. I was most interested in capturing the beauty of my culture.  After two years of teaching myself photography and finding my style, I decided I wanted to turn my hobby into a career.

Your photography focuses on the beauty of First Nations Aboriginal families with a heavy focus on Aboriginal women, motherhood, and culture. What is it about these things that inspires you?  

During my pregnancy I noticed there was little to no representation of Aboriginal motherhood, pregnancy, and families in media. I aspire to create imagery that myself and other Aboriginal women can relate to. I have my own story to tell and so many Aboriginal women have similar experiences to my own, so in that sense my work is my way of communicating our communal and individual experiences as Aboriginal people.

You mention the incredible privilege you feel that others entrust you to hear, tell, witness, and share their stories through your photography within communities. What has been one of your favorite moments and stories to share to date?

A recent highlight for me was being able to a travel to a small community in Ashford where I was given permission to photograph a beautiful ceremony for community posterity. The event was quite significant in that remains of a highly regarded Elder over 40000 years old were being returned from an institution to rest back on Country. This is made possible by the advocacy and resilience of our people that fight for the respect that our culture warrants. While events like these are not covered in the mainstream media, for us as a people, it is a momentous moment in history. I feel so honoured to have been invited and to document the ceremony for the Kwiambal people of the Gamilaraay nation. It is something that will stick with me for years to come. 

You come from such an incredibly strong and ancient culture while also working in a modern space such as digital photography. How do you find it when these two worlds collide?

My old people had an advanced system of communication but is often misunderstood by western society due to not having a written language outside of glyphs and art. Knowledge connected to land, seas, stars and animals, passed down through song, dance and story. Hundreds of language systems both localised and communal. It blows my mind that information has been passed in this way for tens of thousands of years or more. Use of modern digital and print photography provides a contemporary medium for me to capture stories and knowledge passing through traditional practice, on my camera. The beauty of it is that we as a people are reclaiming our storytelling that has been hijacked and told through a western lens for hundreds of years. 

Your culture is so beautifully connected to your landscapes and sacred waters. How do you feel when you are out on country capturing such special moments?

I honestly have the best office in the entire world. As a predominately natural light photographer, listening to and working with the land is essential. Country revitalises and inspires me in my artistry. Country gives me strength and feeds my soul. I am always conscious of protocols and permissions and seek cultural guidance from Elders and traditional families of Country on which I work. This is not just mine, but the responsibility that all of us share to be better connected to place.

What is something you feel non-Indigenous Australians can do to support and give space to Indigenous Australians in an authentic and meaningful way.

This is an interesting question in that I personally feel a lot of well-meaning people extended their hand, especially during the spotlight being on the BLM movement in 2020. I could talk on this for an extended period of time with regard to activism, social issues, structural disadvantage, systemic racism and a whole lot more. But I will speak to the arts as that is the space I operate my business. Supporting Aboriginal creatives is more than a one-off purchase to 'start a conversation.' It's hiring blak creatives who are equally as good as non-Aboriginal people but aren’t afforded the same exposure because of barriers to access to technology and equipment, barriers to access to business supports, barriers to access to branding and PR due to affordability. We as a collective creative group have artistry in our DNA. We don't need to have doors opened for us, we are quite capable of opening them ourselves. What we need are those doors to be unlocked. We need the same opportunities available to us, as anyone else. 

My new range is based around escapism and wanting a holiday to last forever. I’d love for you to share a Holiday or memory that you never wanted to end. A moment you wished went on forever.

Funnily enough my escape, the place I feel most at peace, is back home on Country. Lightning Ridge, Yuwaalaraay Country where my mob are. The red dirt, hot heat, quirks of the town and people. It’s a magic place. Narran Lake is where my children were smoked by their elders through ceremony. Our whole being is in that place, and I love being there.

We highly recommend checking out Marley's incredible work HERE and following her journey on Instagram HERE 

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