WHEN Albany-based photographer Lee Mullen walked into a flea market in Eccles, Manchester in the early 1980s, little did he know the real cost of a five quid camera that he haggled for.
The pistol-grip Super 8 that he brought home would be the first purchase of more cameras and pieces of equipment than he cares to remember.
With his undiluted English accent, it’s hard to tell whether he is joking or deadly serious about contracting Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
He happily admits to having drawers full of both still and video cameras that were bought in the hope of attaining better results than he could manage with the gear he already had.
Prior to moving to Albany two years ago, Mullen lived in Kalgoorlie, and the frustration of having all the tools at his disposal and not quite hitting the mark with his photos led to a light-bulb moment.
“I met with other photographers who were taking stunning images, and I thought how do they do it? I had a Canon 40D and it would be set on ‘auto’ and I just couldn’t get it.”
Rather than throw more money and another expensive camera at the problem, Mullen took a backward step, but a big leap forward.
“I went back to a lower-level camera and learned everything from scratch. It changed everything for me.
“All these things might be nice, but at the end of the day they’re only tools,” he said.
“I used to resist that – when you get older you get wiser – they were using me instead of me using them.”
The passion for photography and videography only grew with Mullen’s confidence, leading him to turn his hobby into a healthy sideline business and the establishment of Gan Eden Media.
One of his first paying jobs was in real estate photography, and he jumped into the deep end.
His first assignment was to photograph a property worth $1.2 million.
“The house sold in a couple of weeks. It really gave me the confidence I needed,” he said.
Although his portfolio is stacked with evidence of his versatile photography, Mullen says his real passion lies in landscape photography.
He says aspects of the scenery along the South Coast have similarities with Britain.
“As for the atmosphere – it’s a photographer’s delight,” he said.
“And there are so many good photographers in the region. It’s a real hotspot for photography.”
While he has simplified the tools in his collection that he uses for jobs for Gan Eden clients, Mullen says he may never be cured of the inquisitive nature to try new things along the way.
He has been bitten by the drone bug – with some stunning results.
“I used to hate them and wanted to shoot them out of the sky,” he said.
“I think the drone revolution is good. There’s good guys trying to do the right thing, then there’s recreational drone users.”
He already has his sights on his next adventure.
“I’d like to have a go at astrophotography,” he said.