When discussing three of the Region’s most recognisable photographers, locals say it over and over again – “They knew just how to capture my true personality”.

Arguably Bundaberg’s most renowned photographer, Ray Peek created PEEK magazine in 1967, Bundaberg’s 100th Birthday.

In the first edition, Ray Peek described the purpose of the magazine. “PEEK aims to capture photographically the pulse of all the interests and activities of such a vigorous community. It seeks to present not just the result, but the cause. Not just the scene, but the reason for its being – what motivates it and activates the many arterial aspects of life in our city.”

It’s as true then as it is now.

Born in Gin Gin in 1930, Ray spent his early years in El Arish until the threat of the Japanese invasion in the north saw the family return to Bundaberg.

His portraits adorn the walls of Bundaberg homes, many shot in studio in Earls Court. Plenty of locals also featured in Ray’s pics in the NewsMail, having been the chief snapper for decades.

Ray scored fifth place in the US Camera World Competition. In the Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship (MILK) competition, 40,000 pictures from 70 countries were submitted, and his image of Morris Dingle and his grandsons Stuart and Brody mustering cattle was judged the best of Australia.

His photographic career spanned sixty years, well documented in his collection PEEK a peek at life, including Armless Fun, his international Hasselblad Portrait Prize winner of 1985.

Ray is survived by his wife Patricia who bought the mannequin and said of Ray that “his inspiration came from the inner story he brought to life from schoolkids to farmers to the NewsMail Girl of the Week.”

“As a storyteller, I have done a few projects in recent years about people and immigrants. These kinds of projects have always enriched me as a human being and, of course, artistically,” says photographer Sabrina Lauriston of her recent exhibition I Am Woman.

I am Woman explored the lives of the region’s local women and reflects what women have become today as the result of the rights won from the battles of the suffragettes of past generations.

“There is no need to look around, searching for particular people.  I have learned that everyone has a story to tell; something you can learn from. We only have to stop and listen.”

Hailing from Italy 15 years ago, Sabrina said she was grateful for the opportunities that allowed her to create such artistic exhibitions capturing the essence of people in their own space, their true self in their own environment. Sabrina has studied painting and photography at the Institute of Art in Sienna.

If you’ve ever been photographed at an event or featured in a news story, chances are you’ve been snapped by Crush’s own photographer Paul Beutel. Hardly an event has gone by without Paul and his cheeky directorial demeanour capturing the best of life in our part of the world.

Paul has captured some of the biggest news events of the past three decades, including images that have been beamed around the world and capturing the front pages of all the national mastheads, simultaneously.  His images of the Bundaberg floods are iconic.  As well as capturing some of the most memorable images of our generation, he also captures the vulnerability of people with care and respect.

Paul has displayed his work in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. As a finalist in the 2014 National Photographic Portrait Prize for his iconic “The Butchers Daughter” he captured a chapter in the life of Judy Pippen (pictured top).

Of the acclaimed work Paul says, “Judy turned to her Celtic ancestry for the symbols to help her reclaim the space where her breasts once were. ‘I went back to my deep Celtic heritage and found dragons! I have replaced absence with presence. They are my survivor’s badge of courage.’ Wherever she goes, her dragons are with her.”

As said in PEEK, “People who throb – with work, with spirt, with fun, with ambition, with disappointment – with joy, with tension, with belief, with inhibition, with laughter, with tears and with love.”  To capture that is true artistic brilliance.


Michael Dart is an actor, director and member of the Playhouse Theatre.