Michael Jalaru Torres
I am an Indigenous photographer and media professional from Broome, Western Australia.
As a Djugan and Yawuru man with tribal connections to Jabirr Jabirr and Gooniyandi people, I am inspired by the unique landscapes and people of the Kimberley region, which feature prominently in my work.
My photography draws on my own stories and personal history and explores contemporary social and political issues facing Indigenous people. Much of my work involves conceptual and innovative portraiture and abstract landscape photography.
Through my portraits of people taken ‘on country’ I promote positive and individualised representations of Indigenous people. I also incorporate etching, drawing and other design work into my conceptual photography, combining traditional and iconic Kimberley imagery within a modern aesthetic.
I am a self-taught photographer and was drawn to photography as a visual medium because of its accessibility and the challenge of capturing stories in single images. I experiment regularly with different mediums, and I am interested in expanding my photography into installations and motion work and pushing the boundaries of how conceptual photography can be used in virtual reality.
My photography has appeared in exhibitions in Sydney, Perth and regional Western Australia. In 2017 I held two solo exhibitions in Perth, Scar and Scar II, which explored traditional and contemporary ways of marking bodies, minds and country.
I had a creative spark about me from a young age, from drawing to photography. I have always had a strong pull in my design to showcase the Kimberley, and the colours and texture of the landscape and people of this region have inspired my work.
In the past, most of my time has been taken up with commercial graphic and web design work. This has made it a challenge to express myself creatively but I’ve always added to my design ideas. Now I feel I can come out of the background and express my art in many elements.
Over many years I have seen other artists’ work via the internet and on rare gallery visits. Seeing their work hanging in such amazing spaces has inspired me to create and has given me a sense of drive to showcase my work in the same galleries, but also worldwide. At the same time I want to remain grassroots, doing installations on country and in some remote places to use the amazing rugged landscape as a backdrop to my art.
Since starting to focus on photography three or four years ago, I have been constantly trying new techniques and honing my own style. I am developing ways to express the images, not only as printed work but as projections and narration. I hope to learn from international artists on best practices in these areas.
In my graphic design I have used a lot of line work that reflects the landscape of my country, as well as animal designs which I have used in my commercial work. More recently I have started to work in blending both graphic design elements into my photography.
“Bending Light” is a style that I’ve worked on in the past 12 months and is the basis for my creative photography. The “capture through motion” of this style records the colour and texture of the landscape in a unique way and will be the backdrop for my graphic design work. By using animals and people to showcase the line work designs of the region that were primarily using in pearl shell and boab carving, I hope to introduce these elements to make the artwork localised and bring back the strong history of the designs.
My photography also includes portraits of local people from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. I find that capturing people on country gives a truth to the images and the natural light reflects on the images to give them a unique feel. I hope to learn and develop older film photography to capture the people and landscape on country and also develop the film while on country to add to that authentic feel.
Canon 5D mk4 and One Speedlite