Krystle Wright, who graduated as part of Flinders Class of 2004, shares advice gleaned from her daring career path as an adventure photographer and filmmaker.
What does life hold for you now?
As an adventure photographer, cinematographer and director, I explain to others that I am a transient soul as work keeps me on the road worldwide for approximately 10-11 months out of the year. I still call the Sunshine Coast home, even though my trips are sporadic at best. Right now, I write this email from the Canary Islands where I am about to head to Norway to pursue a free-diving project and swim with Orcas in the Norwegian fjords. Afterwards, I return to Australia to photograph an advertising campaign through Queensland and the Northern Territory before heading to the Antarctic Peninsula to work as a guide for the month of December with Antarctic21.
What was your favourite Flinders moment?
It’s difficult to define a singular moment as I appreciated the numerous opportunities that Flinders offered me. It’s easy to choose the wonderful memories such as winning the Young Endeavour Scholarship or setting records in the athletics. However, a major turning point occurred in my final year. I used to suffer from stage fright as I would constantly put myself under so much pressure to succeed that it ultimately brought me undone every time. I was encouraged to seek guidance where it became obvious that I was so focussed on the end goal that I forgot to enjoy the process and the ‘why’ in the first place. The next time I took the stage during a music extension performance, I could finally enjoy being on stage and remove the nerves that often tormented me. I’ve now taken the stage as a public speaker in numerous countries, including stages such as National Geographic in Washington DC, Canon Australia in Sydney, photography festivals in Israel, UK, Russia and many more.
Do you have a particular role model or inspirational figure from Flinders or now?
J.T. (Mr John Thomas) is my role model from Flinders as I sought much guidance from him in my Secondary School years and still do. I owe a lot to him for creating some of the best memories I had at Flinders as I played in the Concert Band and Stage Band.
Another role model in my life would be photojournalist Daniel Berehulak who works with the New York Times and has the ability to resonate and define history. In a world that is becoming over stimulated and overwhelmed, his work shows how powerful a still image can be and what change it can instigate.
How easy was it to decide what to do in life?
In my Senior years at Flinders, I felt a natural draw to subjects such as music, art and sport. And, unfortunately, it became harder for me to retain focus in other subjects. However, after school, I knew I had to pursue one of these avenues and it was my mother who suggested photography as I was always taking a disposable Kodak camera on camp. (I realise, as I type that sentence, that my age begins to show!) I felt utterly lost when applying to universities as I had no other idea of what to do, and decided to take a gamble on studying photography. Once I was accepted into the degree, I picked up a few specialist photography magazines and came across the work of Adam Pretty. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to be a sports photographer. To experience that type of career clarity can be a rare thing. Most importantly, there is no correct amount of time to figure that out and if there’s any advice I can give here, is never compare yourself to others as it’s a dangerous trap to fall into.
Did your further study or career go exactly as you’d planned?
One of the most important skills in life to be able to evolve. I began my career as a sports photographer and experienced the rush of running the sidelines at the big stadium events such as The Bledisloe Cup, State of Origin, The Ashes and many more. As a casual photographer for News Ltd in Sydney this left me with a lot of spare time in which I would use to go and photograph adventurous sports such as mountain biking, BASE jumping or surfing. Over time, I found my passion shifting and in 2011, I decided to switch and leave the newspaper world to pursue a full-time freelance career as an adventure photographer.
Recently, again, I found myself evolving in to cinematography and most recently, directing short films for brands such as Canon Australia. I think it’s incredibly exciting to evolve and not fully know how my career will continue to develop in the years to come.
What advice do you have for current students?
The word ‘failure’ is often a frightening word but when you step into the world to pursue your dreams, it takes a lot of patience, persistence, and the willingness to try, no matter the outcome. Because, if you fail, the worst thing that can happen is that you come home and simply start again. It is through failure that we learn our greatest lessons.
Thank you Krystle, for your helpful and insightful advice. Your life and work is incredibly inspiring! We look forward to welcoming you back to Flinders in between your projects and jetsetting adventures.
Image by Krystle Wright