THROUGH HER EYES - How Heidi Morris is capturing the heart of our rural communities
Her images have been captured via chopper in the most outback dusty desert regions of Australia’s vast landscape, they’ve been captured via an open window of a dented working farm ute, they’ve been captured as she shares a laugh and a chat with locals as she travels across the country… however as Lucy Moore discovers, it’s the rawness of a portrait and the resilience and strength of those working in agriculture that inspires Heidi Morris the most.
Glancing through photographer Heidi Morris’s Instagram page @lens.of.rosie, there are hundreds of images telling a special story.
From the giggles of a naked child wearing an Akubra hat, to the excitement of a child riding a sheep, piggybacks, cuddles with dad in a cotton crop, harvest in action at sunset, to the action of a bull catching operation at Wollogorang Station, her images show the heart of the people living in rural Australia.
It was when she was working on Paraway Pastoral Company’s Davenport Downs, west of Jundah in south west Queensland, throughout 2014 and 2015 that she first created the Instagram page to show station life.
“My Instagram page gained more traction than anticipated, so I continued to upload with the hope of educating city friends about life in the desert,” she says.
“A lot of my city friends really had no idea about what went on in the west and loved seeing it all firsthand through my photos.
“My love for the beef industry and the channel country merged with my love of photography and if it weren’t for my time at Davenport I doubt I’d be where I am today.”
Heidi recalls playing with her parents’ digital camera from the age of 8 years and developing a passion for photography then.
“When I was 14, I worked two jobs for six months to save for my first ‘big’ camera and it was after using these new tools I realised I really had the ‘eye’ for photography,” she explains. She has a particular interest in capturing portraits as she says the images conjure so many emotions and feelings.
Heidi’s photography work has since meant she has been selected to photograph campaigns for Akubra, the NBN network and the NSW Government, as well as several other businesses and organisations.
She has travelled to remote landscapes throughout the Northern Territory’s Kimberley, and more local endeavours surrounding her hometown of Moree.
When I chat to Heidi, she’s in the midst of working a demanding harvest – having operated headers throughout Australia and Canada for the past nine seasons.
And now, her passion for the agricultural industry and having been involved in harvest operations prompted Heidi to undertake a new venture, as she saw firsthand how ongoing pressure from COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures then linked to staffing shortages has led to many sleepless nights for grain farmers as the season draws to a close in the Eastern states.
That’s how her new venture and social media pages Seasonal Work Australia (Facebook) and Instagram handle @seasonalwork_oz was established and have taken centre stage to her other commitments.
“The nation-wide shortage of harvest staff and the complex processes in place to get new workers among the current COVID-19 climate made me realise we need to simplify the process to attract people as much as possible,” Heidi explains.
“I knew so many people through my travels who were keen to follow the harvest like I did, they just didn’t know where to start.
“I really wanted to scale the process back to a simple message and phone call scenario, and the response has been better than I ever imagined.”
Australian farmers requiring seasonal work have long relied on overseas workers to get crops off, but with that option all but dried up, Heidi hoped to attract Australians to the job.
“Aussies are here to stay, so what’s to say they can’t come back every year for harvest? I know how rewarding working through harvest is, and I’m hoping others will be involved and experience firsthand how enjoyable it is”
Heidi says hundreds of people have been contacting her looking for opportunities, from university students to school leavers, and those who have been left unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Heidi originally planned a 12-month commitment with Seasonal Work Australia, she says the response received hinted the project could easily become long-term.
“The dream would be to have hundreds of Aussies coming back to our rural areas each year for harvest – I’d find that very rewarding,” she says.
“I just ask what potential workers are looking for and pair them up with farmers I have on my list,” Heidi says.
And while she might be in the driver’s seat of a header in the thick of harvest activity, don’t be surprised if she’s got the camera bag packed and Heidi’s social media pages are filled with images of her experiences during these latest seasonal farm operations.