Peter Blakeman APP AAIPP - 2016 AIPP Australian Professional Documentary Photographer of the Year

I did not know I had won this prestigious award until a week after the announcement. I was in Nevada, shooting Burning Man when the announcement took place.... I did not have a ride to leave the venue that attracts 70 000 people for the eight-day gathering. I hitch hiked out and to my surprise I was picked up by two photographers. One from Tahoe and one from Mexico. Normally it takes three hours to drive from the desert to Reno but because of the mass exodus we sat in the SUV for 10 hours. I had already found out that I had won 4 awards at the judging on my way into the event just before phone service disappeared. I was pretty happy with that. Every now and then it crossed my mind as to who had won and of course I secretly hoped I had. I certainly didn't expect it to be a reality though. There was nothing I could do sitting in the middle of the Nevada's hot desert partying with a select few of the 70 000 new found friends.

Of course much of the topics spoken about during our long wait, was how I may have a slim chance of winning the category. Once we got to within phone range I was pretty nervous to ask to borrow a phone that had wifi as I wasn't sure I wanted to know just yet. The guys urged me to look at the APPA website and I think my woo hoo's were enough for the guys to realise I had won the category.

I had not expected to win the category as I did not believe I was in the same league of photographers whom have won categories before me. I felt very proud and wished I could let my friends and family know straight away but I still had to wait a few days until I arrived back into Sydney. I arrived back to Sydney with messages and phone calls of congratulations and as I sit here writing this I still can not believe the achievement I have obtained. My late Mother would be so Proud.


Peter is an international award winning Photographer, specialising in Sport, Documentary, Landscapes, Underwater, Fine Art, Adventure, Travel and Editorial with over fifty covers, feature images and his own written articles in some of Australia's well-known publications.

His work is also widely published around the world. Peter pushes his camera to the boundaries….. He knows if his camera is working hard to get a shot then he must be working harder. It is not often he is happy with a picture and he sits there looking and pondering at the best pics from the day and asks himself what can he do better to improve his images. He gets a lot of his inspiration from Natures palette….. Shooting unique images in all types of climates whether they are dust storms in the desert, Snow in the Mountains or simply a wedding.

The moment you press the shutter, you're not only creating an image…. You are capturing a moment in time that can never be replicated. Every image is a document of the past.

Peter Blakeman APP AAIPP- During Burning Man’s annual gathering in Nevada, the biggest dust storms of the festival limits visibility down to only metres at times. Shown here as yet another dust storm passes by, people continue to enjoy the randomness of meeting new people whilst enjoying art instalations or even standing around a welcoming fire as the sun goes down.
Peter Blakeman APP AAIPP - After shooting a wedding, I had decided to have a few drinks myself..... This event was a bring your own cup only event and this guy decided a trophy was to be his way of securing drinks for the night. I came back to the bar to get another drink in the wee hours of the morning to find this guy slumped over the bar asleep..... In this bar anything goes and people just do what they want and don't get judged for doing it. If you wanted a drink, you ordered over the top of him. I loved the way he was slumped over and knew I had to get a pic of him.
Peter Blakeman APP AAIPP - effery, son of Warri and Yutunga, dubbed The Last Nomads, sheds a tear after lighting a controled burn on his country. It had taken us ten days to get to this spot where the mob would camp on route from water hole to water hole. Waking up first in the morning Jeffery decided to light a controled burn next to the claypan where every one was camped. The rest of the mob woke to the crackling sounds of sap burning and trees cracking. I managed to capture this image as Jeffery was admiring his handy work.
Peter Blakeman APP AAIPP - Pushbike is the only mode of transport at this event unless you are fortunate enough to have an Art Car (A motorised mode of transport that can not have any resemblance to a vehicle). Dust is absoulutly relentless at Burning Man. I had no idea what I was in for when I accepted a contract to photograph a wedding. Pre wedding I had a shot in mind but I had only seen it during the middle of the day. I came back later and secured a spot high up. I waited for a small dust storm to come and with the right light, the image presented itself. As soon as I took it I knew I had something special.