The Long Run #6: Mervyn Bishop on a life of photography


“Black and white photography has always been my…I suppose it’s just kind of my life,” says Mervyn Bishop on his 60-year photography practice.

Bishop is a Murri man and is Australia’s first Aboriginal photojournalist and documentary photographer. In the early 1960s, when he was just 17, he began a four-year cadetship with The Sydney Morning Herald. Later in the 1970s Bishop took a government position as a photographer for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. It was during this time he took one of his most iconic images of prime minister Gough Whitlam and Aboriginal rights activist Vincent Lingiari.

The first solo exhibition of Bishop’s images came about in 1991 and was curated by artist Tracey Moffatt, and he currently has a major survey Mervyn Bishop: The Exhibition at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Bishop began taking photos when he was young, and we talk about the influence of his mother in steering him toward photography, as well as the years at The Sydney Morning Herald. We also discuss the stories behind some of his most iconic images, and the emotional aspects of his work. And as a photographer who’s known for capturing incredibly empathic moments, we talk about how Bishop gets photography to such an intimate place.

This episode of The Long Run is part of an ongoing podcast series, and you can listen back to previous episodes with Suzanne Archer, Robert Owen, Gareth Sansom, Wendy Stavrianos and John Wolseley. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, so you never miss an episode. And don’t forget to rate and follow the podcast.

Mervyn Bishop: The Exhibition
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
Until 1 August

This series is kindly sponsored by Leonard Joel Auctioneers and Valuers, based in Melbourne and Sydney.

Produced and presented by Tiarney Miekus, engineering by Patrick Telfer, and music by Mino Peric.

Podcast Words by Tiarney Miekus