21 January 2020

The Kayakcameraman: Photographing Canberra from a different perspective

| Doug Dobing
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Canon Light Awards Photo of the Year Finalist. Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

While most of us are asleep, Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak is already paddling around Lake Burley Griffin in his sea kayak, photographing some of Canberra’s spectacular mornings, from a different perspective.

Canberra is much more than politicians and roundabouts said Mr Jurak.

“We’ve got stunning scenery. We’ve got amazing walks [and] bush on our doorstep,” he said.

Before being diagnosed with testicular cancer, Mr Jurak said that he would drive to work and didn’t really take the time to look at the sunrise.

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

“Looking back I [now] realise I was so wrong, how far off the mark I was,” he said.

“Having cancer has really changed me a lot and changed how I view things. [I] don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.”

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

Mr Jurak said he bought his sea kayak, the “Red Chilli”, in 2012 when he was in the third stage of chemotherapy, recovering from testicular cancer. The whole idea of buying a kayak was not for photography but to rebuild himself physically.

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

When he paddled his maiden voyage with his eldest son, Mr Jurak didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know how to sit in the kayak or even paddle it.

He recalled the very first photograph that he took when kayaking, it was a foggy morning on the Molonglo River, and he turned around to take a back shot of his son on his mobile phone.

“It’s this silhouetted shot of my son, on a kayak, on the water with the sun burning behind him through the mist,” said Mr Jurak.

Canberra is often calm in the morning and every day is different he said.

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

His photographs take you on a journey as if you are sitting on the lake in the kayak.

“The whole idea of my photography is you’ve got to stop. You’ve got to stop. You’ve got to be motionless and you stop for five minutes and watch everything go by.”

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

“When I’m out there, I can see the sun starting to come up, it’s dark and I start to see the lights and the tones.”

“Light and water is a beautiful combination and it’s my meditation. I stop and I disengage and I think of nothing but nothing.”

“It’s all about the imagery in the way of looking and watching it unfold. And I watch it change from early pinks.”

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

“I’ve never seen a place that throws as much colour as it does here. [It’s] unbelievable.”

What started out with a few photographs, on a Canon D30, a point and shoot camera, has casually grown.

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

Last year Mr Jurak’s photograph ‘underneath the bridge’ made it to the Canon Light Awards and was shortlisted to the finalists for the photograph of the year.

His photographs are also archived in the National Library on PANDORA, Australia’s Web Archive.

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

This year, Mr Jurak is invited to participate in the World Photo Day in Canberra on the 19 August. He will have a paddle and show Canberra from a different perspective.

Mr Jurak is a CIT Trade School teacher and Ambassador for ACT Healthy Waterways.

“A lot of us don’t realise what goes down our stormwater drains ultimately ends up into our lakes and our rivers,” he said.

Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

If you would like to see more spectacular photographs by Paul Jurak go to Kyakcameraman on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to Doug Dobing talk with Paul Jurak about testicular cancer on 2XX FM 98.3 on Friday 4 August 2017 at 8:30 am. Doug will talk more with Paul about his kayaking, photography and work as Ambassador for ACT Healthy Waterways on 2XXFM 98.3, Friday 11 August 2017 8:30 am.

Let us know what you think of some of these images? Do you have a favourite?

Doug Dobing is a modern communicator, journalist and content creator with a passion for people, politics and social justice. You can also hear him talking about local current affairs issues on 2XX FM 98.3 SubjectACT. He loves AFL and is an AFL Canberra photographer. You can find him on Twitter @DougDobing.

Running the Gauntlett. Photo: Kayakcameraman Paul Jurak.

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