Alan Boyd is a well-know face around Berwick. He has been a long-serving member of the Berwick fire brigade and runs an accounting firm in Gloucester Avenue. Away from the office, he is a passionate photographer, as Narelle Coulter discovered.
Accountant Alan Boyd’s Berwick office doubles as a gallery for his real passion, photography.
Hanging on the walls of his brick office are prints of some of his favourite photographs.
A grungy view of Hosier Lane with Federation Square in the background shot at dusk as a garbage truck pauses to collect some city rubbish; a shot of Sydney’s Strand Arcade full of shoppers, Uluru at sunset and two photographs Alan took last year on a trip to Norway.
“Every one of my photographs has a story,” he said, looking wistfully at the photographs, as if a mere glance transports him back to the exact time and place they were shot.
“When I took the graffiti lane picture I was in the city with friends. The garbage truck really made that photograph. My friends thought it was just a pooey old garbage truck so they sat out in Flinders Street and waited for me. It ended up being the shot of the night.”
At Uluru he waited two nights until the light was just right.
In Norway he capture the frozen grandeur of remote Eliassen Rorbuer Lofoten islands.
“I loved being there in the middle of winter. The starkness of the landscape, the raw environment. It really was seeing nature at its best,” he said of the islands, which are consistently listed as one of the 10 most beautiful places in the world to photograph.
Later this year Alan is off to Cuba. Also on his wish list are Antarctica, Canada, Alaska and the Scottish Highlands.
Alan discovered his passion for photography during a 2010 trip to Norfolk Island.
He bought himself an “entry level” DSLR camera “got snapping and really enjoyed it”.
He entered a shot of a whaling boat moored at Kington on Norfolk Island in the Berwick Show and took out the prize for Best in Show.
He has since won several national competitions and claimed gold and bronze in his first international competition last year.
“Photography is creative, it’s interesting, it lets you capture a moment in time from your perspective and that moment won’t happen again,” Alan said.
His growing collection of work includes “thousands” of images, which record his extensive travels throughout Australia and the world.
He enjoys getting to some of Australia’s most far flung places in his four-wheel drive and “capturing their beauty in photographs”.
His current companion is a Canon 5DRSR which gives a 50 megapixel resolution, “fantastic for my landscape scenes”.
“I have an approach that I’m always learning. I read many technical magazines and try to make contact with local experts when I travel.
“I am always trying new techniques and I spend a lot of time experimenting with High Dynamic Range shots.”
He said his aim was to capture as much as possible in the initial frame with very little post processing.
Alan grew up on his parents’ Friesian stud farm at Lyndhurst before the family moved to Berwick in 1977 where he has lived ever since.
His passion for travel and the outdoors were hatched in his early days of scouting.
As a teenager he also developed a love of stamp collecting. When Alan was 17 he wrote to the editor of the Weekly Times suggesting a new section on philately.
“He wrote back and said we should talk. He got a bit of a shock seeing how young I was but gave me the gig.”
World of Stamps with Alan Boyd appeared weekly for the next 20 years.
After high school, Alan started an agricultural science degree but couldn’t see a future for himself in primary industry.
He quit university and got a job with Dandy Bacon in Dandenong as an accounts payable clerk.
He studied part time and “made my way up the tree”.
He later worked for James Hardy for eight years before opening his own accounting practice in 1995 in Berwick.
He has been a CFA volunteer with the Berwick brigade for 32 years, including 18 years as captain.
He estimates he has attended more than 5500 call-outs with Berwick and is a veteran of Ash Wednesday, Black Saturday and campaign fires in the alpine regions and NSW.
On the wall of his office reception is a photograph of the mountain ash trees near Falls Creek which have never recovered from the ferocity of Black Saturday.
He says photography and travel are a “reality check” from the pressures of staying abreast of tax law and the demands of running a small business.
“It gives me a bit of perspective. Accounting involves a lot of routine, it is quite serious and mundane.
“Travel is also a great conversation piece. I am always swapping travel stories with my clients.”
He still loves Berwick which has “enormous character”.
“It’s still a communal village and the people are great. When I came to Berwick there was nothing south of the railway line. The Mansfield estate was just started. It has evolved with time but it is still a nice part of the world.”
Leaning back in his chair, his eyes wandering to the gallery on his office wall, he says thoughtfully that photography has taught him patience and how to look at the world differently.
“Patience is the big thing. Sometimes you have to be there for hours to get a shot or you have to go back a number of times. You have to be patient.
“And yes I do see things differently. No matter where you go the mood and light is always changing. You always get a different shot.”