His iconic images of major world events, world leaders, royalty and Australian Prime Ministers have captured unforgettable moments in history.
For a quarter of a century, more than one and half million clicks have been captured by the lens of the Scottish-born Australian photographer, David Foote, Photographer for the Australian Government Photographic Service (Auspic).
To celebrate 25 years of service, ‘The Official Observer’ exhibition at Parliament House will display fascinating and historic photographs captured in Australia and during official visits overseas.
The more than forty framed images and over a hundred PowerPoint scrolling slides include the 14th Dalai Lama with former leader of the Opposition Kim Beazley sharing a ‘laughing fit’ moment, Barack Obama getting an AFL football lesson from Julia Gillard in the Oval Office of the White House, and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, scaring her husband Prince Charles with a knife during an official visit to the Barossa Valley.
‘Some images just come together with a smile, a flower or something totally unexpected, like the Duchess of Cornwall showing her “playful” personality by frightening Prince Charles,’ David said.
‘It’s these small casual human acts that tell the biggest story in a single frame.
‘The biggest challenge for any photographer is catching that perfect moment. One of my favourite images on display is of the former Prime Minister Julia Gillard when she visited the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul.
‘Ms Gillard wore a blue scarf. She looked up at the mosaic ceiling for a split second and I took the photo. Some images just fall into place, expression, location, and this one did.’
Some of the other images on display capture intimate moments during royal visits by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Crown Princess of Denmark. Other photographs chronicle significant historical events including John Howard’s Washington visit which coincided with the fateful events of September 11, 2001.
‘I often feel like Cinderella being a photographer. There’s lots of waiting for a few seconds of time but once these moments are captured they need to be shown otherwise they’re forgotten,’ David said.
‘My passion for photography started when I was interested in aviation, building model aircraft kits. Living near Sydney airport, I would ride around photographing planes. People were the last thing I wanted to photograph.
‘I wrote to the premier British aviation magazine Flight asking for a job as a photographer. They suggested I try working for a newspaper instead. I ended up working for a religious newspaper in Adelaide, and covered Pope John Paul’s visit to Australia, which was my first exposure to the media.
‘I later moved to Canberra and a position in the Government Photographic Service was available and I thought this would be different and new, and would be great for six months. Twenty-five years later, it’s been the best journey through moments in time that I’m pleased to share with the rest of Australia.’
The Official Observer is on display at Australian Parliament House until May 14, 2017.
Top image: Prime Minister Julia Gillard visits the Blue Mosque in Istanbul in 2012 on her official visit to Turkey.