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Patrick happy to be here

Tuesday, 8th April, 2008

Patrick happy to be here Patrick happy to be here

When Swiss photographer Patrick Martin was offered a chance to work overseas in any country, the choice of destination was an easy one.

"Some of my colleagues, they have been to Australia seven times and they said 'You have to go.'

"In Europe there are a lot of people dreaming about Australia. You have a very good reputation.

"My goals while I'm here are to see something different, increase my knowledge and improve my English."

Mr Martin travelled from his home in Vevey in the French-speaking Canton (State) of Vaud, to Sydney where he spent two weeks working with photographers and staff of the Sun Herald.

Swiss colleagues had advised the 42-year-old to make sure he visited Broken Hill during his trip, and upon completing his stint with the Sun Herald Mr Martin immediately set off for the Silver City.

On the flight across Australia Mr Martin said he was struck by the vast desert that makes up much of the country - a stark contrast to the glaciers and snow-capped mountains of his home.

"At home everywhere you go, you could go ten or twenty kilometres and there is always something, a town or people. But not here.

"The landscape is very different. At home it is all hills, no matter where you look you see hills, but there is so much space in Australia.

"Australia is 192 times bigger than my country - it's just another dimension."

Mr Martin was met by BDT photographer Gavin Schmidt upon arrival in Broken Hill and has spent the past week taking in both the city's sights and the day to day operations of its daily newspaper.

Like any professional photographer, he was well informed on his subject matter.

"On the internet I saw a lot of pictures. I knew a bit about the history with the mines and the big unions here, the struggles with the workers and the owners," he said.

"And I knew there were a lot of paintings and galleries, and that you mine a very pure silver here. "In the outback it's like a capital... I'm really enjoying it so far." The relaxed way of life is also very appealing, Mr Martin said. "Australians are very friendly and open and, how would do you say it... not stressed? "I appreciate deeply the hospitality I have been shown. I'm feeling like I'm at home. "I'm also really impressed by the food and red wine. I like the Shiraz. "I travel a lot and I've always eaten something good. And when you're travelling alone it's good to eat well."

Long solo trips are part of the job for Mr Martin, whose assignments have ranged from studio shoots with glamourous Swiss actresses to the streets of post-war Bosnia. He said he disliked capturing scenes of pain and sadness, and preferred photography's more subtle subjects. "I like social scenes and portraits - you can really show someone's personality through a good portrait," he said.

"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I always talk to people and respect them, and treat them the way I would like." Mr Martin said he regretted that travel had kept him from wife Irene and children Karl (9) and Lena (10), but added that his profession had brought him all he could have hoped for in life.

"It's a great job, it is good money, and the best thing is my family and my wife," he said. "I met my wife when I was doing photo jobs around 18 years ago - photography has given me everything."

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