Photographer Mal Austin...Givenworks Publishing...Australian and New Zealand Panoramics

ABOUT US WELCOME to my Givenworks' site. Givenworks was the name I chose to replace the initial company name of 'Mal Austin Photography' under which I ran a general studio in a suburb of Melbourne for 18 years. I was a teacher for my first 7 years of working life and on the interest side was besotted by the steam engine, then in its very last days. As a means to an end cameras were an integral part as we all tried to capture great shots for slide nights and publications. Soon the image became more important and the trains became a means of improving my photography. It is a common story even today to be recognised by family and friends as the amateur photographer who just may be good enough to handle a wedding and save money all in one and even though most of the time we are not as good as thought, my story was the same. By the time I made the momentous decision to resign and begin full-time fotogging I knew a bit of what I was doing and lived half my life in the darkroom. My work consisted of weddings, portraits and all sorts of commercial jobs and by the time I became completely burnt out and sold up to go in the landscape direction I had completed around 650 weddings, hundreds of portraits and had hung from planes, photographed politicians, and a huge range of products - and all on film. My journey away from it all and into landscape necessarily also meant a huge learning curve into computers and the world of commercial CMYK press publishing and of course eventually digital. I have now taught Photoshop, had a stint as a TAFE teacher, design my websites, had 6 books published and live a life of photography which is very challenging and satisfying but never without more portions of learning and discovering there is always someone far more talented than I! I have been a professional since 1983 and had the rare privilege of being one whose hobby is also his profession. In case you are wondering about the name Givenworks it was chosen because of my disbelief that we were not created but are all accidents. I believe our Maker has a purpose for each one of us -most of us never get to find what that is but if we do we find we have been Given Works to achieve, that's why we have the specific talents we do. You can buy my post and greeting cards throughout Melbourne's Dandenong Ranges area and see a lot of my hung and mounted work at "The Wise Possum Nature Shop & Gallery" in Sassafras PHOTO NOTES ONE of the joys of the film era most professionals experienced was the need to use all kinds of different cameras which along with their film size, were better at some tasks than others. I guess it is cheaper to be a pro these days and faster and easier but the interest comes in newer ways than getting the best out of differing films. I rarely used 35mm but when I did I was a Contax fan. For all my weddings I used Bronica 6x4.5 cameras. I had 2 bodies, 4 lenses and 4 magazines. The snobby guys who thought Hasselblad was the only way were forced by their pride and lack of realism to pay double for their hardware with images no better in the clients' eyes! Then along came Rollei with its Hasselblad copy and was hugely expensive and ridiculously unreliable as many disgusted pros. eventually found out - should have been named "Hassleful". For most commercial jobs especially using transparency film I loved my Pentax 67 system - if you want to play around with good quality film, Bronica equipment is absurdly cheap and really good and Pentax is big and bold with wonderful results. Lastly I had a Cambo 5x4inch sheet film monorail camera on hand with all the "stuff" such as Polaroid backs and heaps of double dark slides. It still sits in the cupboard and these days provides me with laughs when I show it to young photography students. I believe digital cameras did not begin to equal or exceed the 120 film cameras until the Nikon D300 arrived. There was no purpose for most professionals in comparing digital with 35mm film as most of us considered that film unusable in quality anyway. Even though the D300 is/was only 12 Megapixels it's quality won me over and I still use one for minor or lo-res purposes. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the D800E which is still my main camera. I am very annoyed with Nikon for putting this - a camera which is essentially flawed - onto the market with such fanfare and then having to put the corrected D810 not long after. There is no doubt that the D800E is a shocker for camera shake with no VR lenses but once you have learnt when it needs a tripod it's quality is such that a D810 replacement is a waste of money. Instead of bringing out new cameras with even more Megapixels what the makers now need to do is to concentrate on producing lenses which are as capable because D800s can bring much disappointment from the best of Nikon lenses but there are no better substitutes! Lastly, the camera which has given me most satisfaction and prodded me into going landscape completely was the old battered "Art Panorama" 6x17 film camera with Nikon f8 90mm lens. I have over 2000 frames of Velvia film from this lovely friend which is now having a new working life in Russia. Soon I will be releasing a 6x17 film only web site of these images.