Artists, Influencing Me, Photography

Influencing Me – Max Dupain

Today’s artist is another photographer, he is Australian and worked mainly in the mid 20th century, a time when Australia still retained a lot of its innocence. 

I am not going to lie, I don’t think Max Dupain has influenced me directly, and I don’t think you see his style or approach in my work, but there is something he did that I think we all aspire to.  He is known as an iconic Australian Photographer.  Let me show you what I am talking about.

The SunbakerIf you are Australian and a photographer, then you would have to know this image.  This is the Sunbaker by Max Dupain.  It is an icon of Australian life, it is an iconic image from one of our own.  It is that perfect image that depicted us and who we were.

dupainAs much as we have tried to show that we are a nation of farmers and that rural pastures are meant to define us, the reality is, that we are a nation that didn’t like the country, and Australia has always been one of the most urbanised countries in the world.  Getting people to go and work in the country has always been a struggle.

00193387Max Dupain photographed us as we actually were, and we have always been those that loved the beach, that loved the water and loved the coast.  He photographed people in summer doing what many do.

We have always referred to ourselves as the Sunburnt country and the beach culture was all part of that.

95224When I think about Australian photography and the history, his name always comes up.

For me he is the Australian photographer or the idea of the photographer that I want to be.  Let me show you that image again.

The SunbakerHow many of us want to be known for a particular image, or a series of images.  I would love one of my images to become an iconic image that inspires future generations of photographers.  That would be the ultimate dream.

I have not taken photos like Dupain, and I haven’t taken photos of life as he did, but as I read some information about him, which you can also read here,  I discovered he loved architectural photography and that was his true passion.  Interesting that he loved that, but is know for a man lying on a beach sunbaking.

Down the Back StragihtFor me summer has been synonymous with cycling for the last few years, and this was a scene I took down at a beach in Geelong this past summer, it is one you have seen before, along with this next one.

Keeping GuardDupain lived in Sydney and the beach culture there is very different to us in the south, but a hot day, regardless of where you are always drives us to the water and he captured that so well.  Photographing beaches now has become a lot harder with issues of copyright and privacy.  It is so much harder to just do what he did.

More research needs to be done and I look forward to learning more about Max Dupain and his photography.  I might have to do a second post on him.


  1. I really like these “Influencing Me…” posts. They’re a great idea and a wonderful way to acknowledge those who inspired and influenced your work as an artist. As a student of 20th Century Photography I learned a small bit about Dupain and I have seen the Sunbaker before. But your insight into him and also, your country through his photographs is a much deeper experience. Thank you again for another wonderful post.

  2. I really enjoyed seeing Dupain’s work, and I always like seeing your cycling photos. That was a treat.

  3. Very interesting Leanne!
    I wonder if B/W images, in some way, have become synonymous with a more innocence time.

  4. leo brady says

    Great info Leanne.
    I wonder if B/W images somehow remind us of those innocent times you mentioned.
    B/W seems to strip out the distraction of color and forces us to focus on the subject or what’s the photographer is trying to say.
    Of course color has it’s own strengths as well.

  5. Hanno Phenn says

    It is wonderful to see these pictures here they are a true inspiration for new fresh and fun pictures.

  6. Suzanne says

    Aussie photographers I love. Sue Ford, David Moore, Rennie Ellis and Sam Hood. They all gave us wonderful insight into who we are. Really enjoying your blog as well only being following a short time. Suzanne

  7. So interesting to learn about your country through your photography and ‘predecessors’. It is a point of view I am looking at as a traveler. I will find out more through your posts as I am following…

    • I try and approach my blog as one photographer to another, and to show people visiting here what can be photographed, especially on my weekend posts.

    • That is so good to hear. I have to admit I have been quite surprised at how popular these posts are, it is great that others enjoy them.

  8. Max Dupain is probably THE iconic Aussie photographer for me. I got to see an exhibition of some of his prints a while ago – quite an experience!

  9. I like the idea of you doing “influencing me” posts…I’m not familiar with many great photographers so these posts are shall we say educational…I like his sun bather…I can see why it is famous… :)

  10. The Sunbaker is a wonderful image and I have never heard of Dupain. Oddly for myself (an amateur at that) find people like yourself and your blog an inspiration – your photos – thoughts and ideas inspire and encourage me to that (hopefully) next level.

    • That is great, but I think it is also good to see what inspires me, and they too might inspire you one day. There are some amazing photographers out there and artists.

  11. Love to see where other photographers get their inspiration. You inspire me with your bike/ferris wheel photo.

  12. Leanne, I’m sure you will have a chance at having an iconic work… I love these “who influenced me and how” almost as much as the tutorials. LOL (But that’s another story) I certainly have to say I’m one of your biggest fans and have been ever since I found you on WP. You have inspired me to TRY to start taking better raw pictures and then I an learn how to dramatize them. Thanks, as always, for all your help! :D

    • Thank you Keli, what a lovely thing to say, it is nice to know that influence others, that means a lot.

  13. What I loved about this post was how your thoughts about this iconic image and set of images led you to observations about your national culture. Well done! It’s hard to take pictures that others will see as capturing the essence of a people. Do you think it might often be a matter of accident?

    • I have no idea, to tell you the truth, he really did capture us at a very innocent time. Makes them very special in that perspective.

  14. Ironic that it’s almost impossible to take pictures like Dupain did in todays paranoid Australia. It’s getting harder and harder to get images from every day life, particularly at the beach. Totally love his work.

  15. They do seem halcyon times looking at those images Leanne ! I had not heard of Max Dupain but your examples of his work make me more curious to find out more .
    Iconic Image yes I can see that totally .

  16. Thanks for sharing these. Dupain’s composition is beautiful and enough to inspire anyone to want to improve their photographic eye.

    • I think we all go through that, but then when I think about other things, the way women were treated, for example, I am not so sure. I like the freedom I have, but I have heard it was a golden time. In Australia especially. I don’t know about the states.

      • Yeah I do agree with that, I also think about the wars and that would have been hard to live through all that.. haha! Guess the grass is always greener right?

      • Yes, that is so true, My daughter always thinking she would like to live a hundred or two hundred years ago, she likes the clothes, but she has a phobia about toilets and you point that out to her, she says, mmm maybe not. haha.

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