​Penny Lane

1997 Collegian

1997-Penny-Lane

Back in Year 8 I did a media unit that involved a bit of photography. The teacher, Mrs Jack, gave me a good mark and said, "You could be a professional photographer."

I thought: "Awesome, but as if that is ever going to happen."

I would like to bump into Mrs Jack now and tell her she was right!

I started a Fine Arts degree at the University of Western Australia then switched to Fashion and Textile design at Curtin University.

I took photos of student collections and thought it was great fun, so I did a double major in photography.

In 2006 I was photographing naked babies on pumpkins, that sort of thing. It was the hardest job I've ever had. We also did people's pets – we dressed up rats as fairies.

My colleagues encouraged me to set up my own freelance business.

The good thing about Perth is the industry is still quite small and photographers tend to go east to work, leaving a void behind. Perth has a thriving arts scene so it's possible to get good jobs quite early in your career.

One highlight was being asked to photograph the band Empire of the Sun for Q magazine in London on a beach in Lancelin.

I have freelanced across the country, shooting for Australian and international fashion labels, editorials for magazines, commercial campaigns and band and artist portraits.

My big break was winning the photography category in the QANTAS Spirit of Youth Award in 2010. Part of the prize was being mentored by rock photographer Tony Mott.

He told me we all have different ways of seeing the world and it's important to trust your own gut instincts. Be inspired by others but don't try to replicate what they do. It was great advice.

I have moved to Sydney and am in the process of finding an agent and studio space.

For the future I would just like to keep working for designers, artists and musicians who inspire me, and have a solo exhibition.

On MLC: I recently photographed the model Bridget Malcolm who also went to MLC and we bonded over shared memories of our geography teacher, Mr Row, a lovely man.