ALAN Edgecomb has many virtues as a photographer, but patience would be the top of the list.
Since 2011, Mr Edgecomb has been “a fly on the wall” at some of the Brisbane archdiocese’s most historical events, from grand ordinations, emotional funerals, colourful school milestones, parish gatherings and even Pope Francis himself.
In some cases, he stands and waits for the perfect shot, normally a head to tilt or a face to stare down the barrel of his Canon camera.
Not all his assignments in the past decade have gone smoothly.
He’s had camera failure and even lens failure while on assignment photographing Cardinal George Pell, and he’s missed shots by being on the wrong side of the altar.
But when things do go right, he’s taking snaps in areas where most lay Catholics have never ventured.
A portion of his best shots, which he whittled down from 400 to just 65, was on display at the Francis Rush Centre, Brisbane city, two weeks ago.
The exhibition displayed candid moments at Brisbane archdiocesan events between 2011 to a few days before opening night, all spared a digital retouching and not one of them posed.
“I’m trying to be a fly on the wall,” Mr Edgecomb said.
“I’m trying not to interfere with anything.”
Mr Edgecomb said his long-time stint as a trusty news photographer actually started as a venture for bonus marks at university studying photojournalism.
“One of the subjects was news photography and the lecturer used to do photos for The Catholic Leader in the darkroom days,” he said.
“Part of the assessment of the course is you were given an extra 10 per cent credit if you had anything published, anything editorial published.”
The Sunnybank parishioner contacted one of the newspaper’s journalists, Selina Venier, and with a nod from former editor Peter Bugden, organised a photo shoot with the Queensland seminary.
“That was just when (Bishop) Anthony Randazzo had taken over at the seminary, and I photographed all the seminarians plus one of him and that’s when it started,” Mr Edgecomb said.
“It was a case of, really, searching for an extra 10 per cent of an assessment at a university course.”
And while the High Distinction he received for the class was a delightful bonus for his early career, the greatest highlight over the years has been the invitation to “go where other people don’t”.
“People come to Church and they probably never see the events that I’ve been very lucky to be a part of,” Mr Edgecomb said.
As a Catholic parishioner at Sunnybank, Mr Edgecomb has also used this accessibility to his advantage to portray a positive light on the Church.
He said he has faced cynicism and negativity as a Catholic photographer since his university days.
“There is a lot of negative press for us,” he said.
“A lot of people, I found this at university too, there are a lot of very left wing university lecturers and students as well who would mock Christianity quite heavily, and it’s okay to push your own barrow, but you can’t if it’s a religious barrow.
“But certainly I’d like to see more people who’ve never been in to Church to see the photos, to be able to see what a wonderful atmosphere it is and all the positives.
“I just see so much positive.
“You read on the growth of the Catholic Church around the world – it’s growing tremendously.
“It’s changed my faith quite a bit.
“Everybody that I meet is very nice and very friendly.
“And I think that we want to portray that, we need to be a little more I guess out there in people’s faces, not being scared the put our hand up and say we’re Catholic, we’re a photographer, we’re out there.”
While the exhibition is over, Mr Edgecomb is already curating his next display of magical moments in Brisbane and beyond.
“I’m forever looking forward to the next photograph,” he said.
Find more about Alan and his business, Purple Moon Photography, at their website.
By Emilie Ng