From photographing a wedding on a property at Blackall, to speaking on CNN to an audience of 45 million people, wedding photographer Edwina Robertson has spread the plight of drought-stricken Queenslander farmers across the world.
Her photographs of Ross Uebergang and Ingrid Wood’s wedding went viral thanks to a 24-hour social media fundraising campaign kicked off by Edwina in October 2015. Each time someone shared her album of Facebook, she pledged to donate $3 to Tie Up the Black Dog, a not-for-profit organisation supporting mental health problems amongst Queensland’s farming communities. Edwina herself donated $15,000, and an additional $25,000 was raised by members of the public. This is one of the largest donations that the organisation has ever received, and Edwina could not be happier.
Edwina’s wedding photos juxtapose heartbreaking scenes of a family property destocked and turned to dust with all the joy, laughter and emotions of the wedding. A few shots bring the message home – a bouquet next to a cow’s skull; and the beautiful bridal party, dressed in silk and suits, walking down a paddock of dust.
“A lot of things happened that shouldn’t have happened for me to end up photographing Ross and Ingrid’s wedding,” says Edwina Robertson. Through a series of unlikely events Edwina learned Ross and Ingrid were getting married but her prices were out of their range. On a whim, she decided to discount her rates and took on the job. That was just four months out from their wedding.
A country girl herself, Edwina was shocked by the state of the land out at Blackall. “I’m from Glen Innes and I’ve been living out near Goondiwindi for the past few months; I’ve never seen anything like this. I kept wondering, how are they still here? ‘How are they still fighting?’” She decided to make the wedding photographs as true as possible. “I wanted to be real about the environment and the situation; there were bones and cracks everywhere,” she said. “I wanted to make it beautiful but wanted to give them something to show their grandkids.”
The photographs speak for themselves. The sheer happiness that radiates from each and every face is a delight and the drought is so poignantly photographed. It is no surprise that the album has captured the hearts of the nation and further abroad. When CNN called Edwina for an interview, she was surprised but took the opportunity to take the plight further.
Edwina’s fundraising campaign started with these simple words, which have had extraordinary impact: “I was so blessed to travel nine hours to Western Queensland a couple of weeks ago and capture a magnificent wedding in Blackall. But this was far more than just a wedding. This was a community event that touched many. In the same week of this day, Ingrid’s (the bride) family destocked (sold all of their cattle on) their property. A hard and heart-wrenching decision to make based on the brutal realities of financial hardship caused by feeding their stock to keep them alive, and the uncertainty of when a change in season will come. Such a huge down, in a week of huge highs…”
Words by Alice Thompson | Images via Edwina Robertson.