Quietly spoken character Scott Bridle expresses his love and empathy for the Australian outback through his incredible photographic work, and has wowed audiences with his accompanying stories and anecdotes.

After first meeting Scott 18 months ago, it took some rather vigorous encouragement for him to speak at the 2011 Photography Society of Queensland Convention held in Goondiwindi. To appease his nerves and reluctance, I suggested he simply present a slide show of his photographs and maybe answer a few questions from the audience. Well, he had the crowd captivated by his unique, beautifully balanced and vibrantly coloured images. Just add a dry quick wit and easy style, and the crowd was captivated by both Scott’s photos and own blend of fun and adventure.

Originally haling from the Glenmorgan district, Scott’s established mustering career took to the skies in 2002 when he became a helicopter pilot. Recently acquiring his own Robinson R22 Chopper and now working independently also means Scott “can’t complain about the boss anymore”.

Scott credits his mother Jane, a talented artist herself, with influencing his artistic perspective from an early age. She had on her coffee table an aerial photography book by world-renowned photographer Richard Woldendorp, and Scott attributes his dreams to this source of inspiration. It was not until many years later whilst mustering in far outback Australia that he channelled those original Woldendorp images and realised snapping shots while in the skies was possible.

Scott says the magic happened almost straight away when he started photographing from the sky about 10 years ago using film. Three years later he evolved to digital photography, creating immediacy between what he sees and the finished photos. Despite embracing digital technology, Scott still captures colours in all his shots as they appear in real life.

It is not until you see Scott in action that his true talents are revealed. His uniqueness is the rare coupling of talented photographer and skilful pilot.

So when the opportunity arose to accompany Scott and take some shots of him in action I leapt at the chance. I was witness to his phenomenal abilities, his brilliant piloting, and his ability to see the world below and immediately see the image it can become. Scott manipulates the chopper so the shot height is not only perfect, but the light is in exactly the right position to point and shoot.

At 5pm, Scott dropped me back on the front lawn of my own home to the delight and astonishment of my kids, and then took off for western Queensland to muster a huge mob of sheep before sun down. A bit of moonlighting before heading off to work perhaps? A truly astonishing life experience I will long cherish.

The last 12 months have seen a rising interest in many of Scott’s framed photographs, as well as the development of a wonderful book called Outback by publisher Penguin Viking. Outback is a compilation of stunning photos including the Gulf of Carpentaria, Channel Country, The Barkley Tablelands, Victoria River Country and Kakadu. Scott has captured both vivid colours of Australian landscapes and emotional stories of people he has met and worked with through beautiful portraits. To be both amazed and inspired visit www.scottbridle.com.

 Words by Mandie O’Shea  |  Images by Scott Bridle