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Documenting Darwin – Iona Francis

City of Darwin’s LAUNCHmedia team have been busy of late, popping up at Darwin Pride Festival, Darwin International Film Festival, GeeCon and a multitude of other events. Off The Leash caught up with three team members who are using social media to share their creative talents and tell local stories.

When she’s photographing performers in the excitement of live theatre, Iona Francis must decide whether to hang back and observe, or draw out the individual.

“I’m either a fly on the wall, watching the performers and in the back-ground clicking away, or I spend a long time talking to all these individual characters and really trying to create an image that expresses their personality into my images,” she says.

In the space of just a couple of years, Francis has turned her Instagram account into a documentary album of Darwin’s vibrant youth arts scene, capturing the backstage excitement and on-stage intimacy of theatre.

“It’s always been about the arts,” the 17-year-old Darwin High student says.

“I started my photography through Instagram and it didn’t really become a hobby until maybe two years ago. It’s always been about arts. It brings out the passion in my photography. You’re not only photographing to get a good photo, but to show more of a story behind it.”

Her favourite images are those that show the emotion the performers feel being on stage, especially a black-and-white photo she took of a leaping dancer at a youth ballet production.

“That’s probably the most powerful image I’ve taken, because it’s such a clean image of a lovely girl. She’s only 15, and she’s just leaping through the air and it’s stunning.”

As well as snapping the stage, Francis is working on creative photography and was a finalist in the Head-On Photo Festival with a striking series of pictures of two girls lying among tropical flowers.

“I spent around three months working on these images… It was a really awesome time to dive into my photography and experiment with the lengths that I could go to with my images and how I creative I could be.”

When school winds up, Francis will leave Darwin to pursue a course in Media Arts in Auckland. She’ll have no shortage of photos to remember her time here.

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Images by Iona Francis

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