Australian photographer Paul Harmon’s series ‘Watermarks’ shows humanity’s stark dependence on water.
These photos were taken along the floodplains traditionally owned by the Barkandji, Ngemba, Euahlayi and Wayilwan Indiginous Nations . I was originally attracted to this subject by the sheer unexpected beauty of the NSW outback from the air – where the drama of water in the landscape was palpable and even more so where the story of man’s dependence on it – both first peoples and post-European settlers – are rendered in such strong hues. However I soon realized the tensions that existed where a superficial beauty from the air hides ugly truths of stolen lands, stolen water, inappropriate land use and environmental degradation.
While in some sense it is a timeless story of feast and famine in a visually stunning but drought-prone land that has supported human occupation for over 65,000 years, it must also be viewed in the context of climate change and an ever expanding demand for water by a profit based agricultural industry which is critically threatening the very existence of a river system upon which indigenous culture so depends.
Methodology: Though apparently shot at a great height, each of these works are actually composites of up to 120 images that are later “stitched” together to produce one image. They were all shot by drone within the legally permissible height of 120 metres.