May 17, 2021In The Community

A chat with In.Site Awards Community winner Martin Heller

Now that this year’s In.Site Photographic Competition has finished, we thought we would shine a spotlight on our winners to gain a deeper understanding of them and their submissions.

Last week, we interviewed Paul Thomsen, who won the 2021 In.Site Photography Awards’ Environment category.

Now, we’re having a chat with Martin Heller, the winner of the coveted Community category with his submission, ‘Finding a Happy Spot’.

A Perth native, Martin works as a principal adviser at Mitsui, where he deals with environment and regulatory approvals for the Waistia gas project. The photo depicts Mitsui employees, farmers and contractors — joined by a faithful canine companion — meeting at a paddock to discuss a potential well location for the Waitsia project.

Martin says that it was the presence of this dog, which belonged to the farmers to the right side of the photo, that was the deciding factor in his choice of submission.

“It was one of the farmers’ working dogs and he was quite a character,” he tells Brighter.

“I really wanted to call the photo ‘The Magnificent Seven’ to start with. But with regards to ‘Finding a Happy Spot’, the main focus of the photo was the on-ground engagement between farmers, Mitsui employees, and contractors regarding the placement of a future Waitsia well, which is a really important part of gas development in the Perth Basin.

“After 50 years, the paddock is still the grassroots for engagement where energy is being sourced from the region; however today, these energy sources include wind, solar and importantly, gas. Combined, I believe these energy sources will be part of the energy mix as we move towards 2050.”

While not a professional photographer, Martin admits he has a fondness for snapshots. He was previously employed by broadcaster Natural History New Zealand (NHNZ), then a Fox subsidiary, travelling round the world working on natural history documentaries for the likes of National Geographic and Discovery.

‘Part of my role was as a field photographer,” he says. “I took quite a lot of snaps like the normal person and got into photography a fair bit, but nothing ever dramatic; I’ve never really owned a camera – my photo for In.Site was taken with my mobile.”

When not at work, Martin says he loves “anything outdoors” from gardening to sea kayaking. He also plays AFL Masters with the Wembley Veterans Football Club, a passion he discovered in his late forties.

“I really started playing AFL properly about five years ago. For me it’s as much a hobby as a mental and physical outlet. It’s never too late!”