Mosman Insider: Celebrity Photographer Graham Monro
HE IS FOUNDER OF A LEADING AUSTRALIAN PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO, WHO'S BASED RIGHT HERE IN MOSMAN. AND OVER A THIRTY YEAR CAREER, GRAHAM MONRO HAS CAPTURED SOME AMAZING MOMENTS IN HISTORY. BUT THE CANON MASTER IS NOW FOCUSSED ON DOCUMENTING THE LIVES OF LOCAL FAMILIES, WITH HIS TRADEMARK SHOOTING STYLE, AS ANNA USHER REPORTS.
Taking photographs of iconic celebrities was, at one time, all in a day’s work for Graham Monro.
Over the years he’s been up close and personal with the likes of Elle MacPherson, Brooke Shields and Bob Hawke, but admits he’s only ever been “truly nervous” about a shoot just once, during a stellar career that’s spanned three decades.
The year was 1988, and a young Graham had been commissioned by the Australian Wool Corporation, to take photographs at a gala event being held at the Sydney Opera House.
“But it wasn’t just any occasion,” he tells Mosman Collective.
“I had been sent to the Opera House, to take shots of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, who were making an official appearance at the Bicentennial Wool Collection.
“It was an extravagant event, and the place was heaving with snappers,” he says.
“I’ve never seen so many flashes go off in my life, and when the Royal Couple arrived it was absolutely insane – but I got the photo,” he laughs.
Fast forward to 2018, and Graham Monro has long ago left the argy bargy of press and advertising photography, to concentrate on his first love - family portraits.
“My passion is shooting families on location,” Graham says.
“For me, it is a far more expressive and emotional way to take photographs and the process makes for beautifully natural images.
"Shooting this way is a much more rewarding experience for me. There's no way I could ever go back to those days of covering VIP red carpet events.
“I guess you could say that outdoor photography has become my own unique, trademark style.”
Graham says the backdrops of Balmoral, Chinamans Beach and Bradleys Head are his favourite places to document the lives of our locals, who feel “more comfortable” in familiar surrounds.
“Having your picture taken can be quite a stressful experience, especially for Dads,” Graham says.
“So, I love getting families down to the beach, where they are comfortable. Most of the time they forget I’m there within five minutes.
“And that’s when the most brilliant, unguarded moments happen.”
While it’s true that our prolific use of mobile phone photography and the dreaded “selfie” has put a squeeze on the industry, Graham says family portraits are still hugely popular in the Mosman area.
“I think locals understand the importance of having high quality, professional images in their homes,” he says.
“Yes, there’s some great things about taking a spontaneous photo on your iPhone, but you can’t have them blown up – and most people won’t even bother printing them.
“Locally, there’s recently been a big trend of having a big extended family shoot - and our results have been spectacular,” Graham said.
A single, family portrait; featuring kids, parents, grandparents and even pets is one of the more popular options Graham offers at gmphotographics, now located in the heart of Mosman.
And he's still taking photo's of some of Australia's biggest celebrities, just in a different, more relaxed setting.
"I suppose over the years I have formed a strong bond with a number of prominent identities - but these days I like to shoot in their homes, not on the red carpet!
"Clients know what type of experience they're going to get - and what type of quality result to expect from gmphotographics.
"My reputation is everything - and I've been very blessed to have people who like working with me enough, to keep using me time and time again."
Graham describes his studio move back into the centre of Mosman village as "the best decision" he's made. And after four years in Chowder Bay, he admits the isolated environment, with little foot traffic, took its toll.
"It honestly feels like we’ve moved from the country to the big smoke - and it’s so great to reconnect with local business and residents.
“Our new location is perfect in every way.
"People are popping in to have a look at the work that’s featured on our walls - and then booking their photography sessions on the spot.”