Andrew Rovenko is an Australian photographer known for his award-winning project, the Rocketgirl Chronicles. The series, featuring his daughter, Mia, began during the pandemic as her parents needed to come up with something to keep her occupied during lockdown.
Combine Andrew’s photographic talent, Mia’s curiosity with all things related to space exploration and her mother’s skill in creating theater costumes and you get a wonderful family project that grew to be known world-wide.
While there’s something special behind all the shots, one of Andrew’s most vivid memories about the Chronicles is the moment captured on the floating dock, from the “Mariner Mission” photo.
“It was a beautiful, quiet night and the sky kept changing colors – turning bright red after I already ran out of film, so we were just standing there soaking in the spectacular view. Then, out of nowhere came this enormous container ship and sailed right past, completely changing the scale of the whole world in front of us.
It was a very surreal moment to be standing at the water level, looking up to this towering giant moving along on the way to some faraway land, and I really felt like a small child myself in a complete awe of the grandeur of this unexpected encounter.”
If you examine Andrew’s photos, both those included in the Chronicles and his previous work, you see that they express his belief in what makes a good photo: “being a portal into a different experience”.
“A really good photo is the one that carries the power to immerse the viewer into its world and take their mind on a journey of imagination, with intriguing places, stories or characters that come alive triggered by that one visual context captured by the artist.
Photography is special because unlike books, songs or movies – it needs to convey a story through a single frozen moment, therefore giving viewers more freedom for interpretation as they create their own narrative from the image. And really good photos tend to use this power to the max.”
Conveying a story is not always easy and in order to create the photographs he does today, Andrew has learnt some important lessons:
- Shoot less and think more
- Focus more on developing original ideas and staying consistent rather than on gear
Digital technology made photography extremely accessible and enabled us to take hundreds of images a day at no real cost, which is a truly remarkable achievement.
However, having to put value on every shot and pay for your mistakes is a great accelerator of learning and improvement, that really forces you to be more thoughtful and selective with every click of a shutter.
It’s natural for new starters to put emphasis on their gear or learning ’tricks’, as those things seem like obvious shortcuts for getting better results. However focusing on these aspects too much can take away from developing original ideas, your own style and consistency, which are the things that actually make a photographic artist.
With the emergence of new digital technology, Andrew sees that AI powered features could be a game changer that bring incredible, science fiction level results. When it comes to NFTs though, he hopes the market and technology keep maturing in a reasonable way, beyond the initial hype.
I see an amazing potential in further evolution of AI tools, from more sophistication in traditional tasks like object replacement or light/color matching all the way to the generative models becoming a part of the photo editing kit.
It’s still very early days in the NFT realm, and there are many things yet to be addressed to allow for wider and more seamless application and adoption of NFTs, however some aspects of what blockchain technology has to offer are absolutely brilliant and provide undoubtful practical value to the creative world in today’s digital age.
Just as one example, provenance proof and smart contracts solve real and important issues related to the authorship and distribution of digital assets, and in my opinion there’s universal need for such functionality way beyond the current NFT scene. And this need will be the driving force behind the next iterations of the technology until it becomes a standard.
Finally, we wanted to know if the Rocketgirl Chronicles will continue and whether we’ll see more of Mia exploring the world.
Our little project has already lasted much longer than I could have ever expected, which really shows that exploring new places rarely gets boring. But all good things must eventually come to an end, and I think that the trusty space suit will have to go into retirement some time in the near future.
I did get quite a few enquiries about a photo book however, so maybe it’ll be the next thing to focus on, as it’d be a nice way to wrap up the series.
Listen to Andrew talking about the future of photography in this episode of the Into the Future Of…podcast!