Exposure Pro: Ford Kristo

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Exposure Pro is a series looking at the work of leading professional and artistic photographers.

Exposure Pro is a brand new series looking at the work of Australia's leading professional and artistic photographers.

Ford Kristo

(Credit: Ford Kristo)

Name: Ford Kristo

Speciality: "Almost anything on the sunny side of the front door that doesn't show the hand of man."

Biography: Ford has been a freelance photographer and writer for over 30 years. A recent convert to digital photography, he says, "digital imaging is exciting and inspiring. It's such a very different medium to film. A camera used to be the canvas, now it's moved upstream and become the brush." Ford shoots on Nikon equipment, owns a Gitzo tripod with Markins ballhead, a Metz flash and has a crook back from carrying it all.

Ford's work has appeared in: Australian Natural History, Australian Geographic, Geo (Australia), Penthouse, The Weekend Australian, The Bulletin, This Australia, Australian Photography, Good Weekend, Simply Living, Nature & Health, Das Tier, Your Times, Nikon Professional Services Member Portfolio 2009, various publications by the Australian Conservation Foundation, Wilderness Society, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Environment Australia and the Royal Australian Ornithologists Union. His images are lodged with a number of photo agencies in Australia and overseas.

In his parallel life, Ford is a national park ranger. He was awarded a National Medal for 25 years of bushfire fighting in 2009.


BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year International: First Prize for World in Our Hands Category (1987), High Commendation in the Bird Behaviour Category (1987), High Commendation World in Our Hands Category (1988). Vision Graphics Professional Kodachrome Competition Finalist 1990. ANZANG National Photo Competition Finalist 2009. 2010 Wetland Care National Photo Competition Second Prize Open Category.

Artist's statement

This selection of images represents many of the things that get my attention, namely, the raw power of nature, the moon, the ocean, rocks, water, clouds, feathers, fur, leaves, bark, dendritic form and combinations of all the above. I feel like a chronicler of the end of life on Earth as we knew it. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. It's quite a shame really — it used to be such a cosy little planet and life support system.

I've spent my entire life as a small cog in a machine (trust me, I work for the government) trying to conserve things and places that have no say in what we choose to do to them. It's largely been a waste of time really — humans, as a species are so very, very selfish. But it's been a most fortunate life and I have been privileged to experience and see so many wonderful things.

He who despairs over an event is a coward, but he who holds hope for the human condition is a fool. — Albert Camus, The Rebel, (1951)
Quick Q&A

CNET Australia: what prompted you to pick up a camera over 30 years ago?

Ford Kristo: I was sitting as a stranded captive of the wet season in a mining camp in the Top End in the 1970's. All the blokes in the camp were playing cards and getting pissed. I don't drink or play cards, so I mail ordered a camera and explored the beauty of light in a very majestic setting.

What inspires you?

Elegance and the coexistence of complexity and simplicity. The potential of digital technology is also a significant spur. Art and the work of other photographers does not really inspire me in terms of personal style and execution, but it does demonstrate oppositions of approach in the diversity of creative thought.

For example, the sharp darkness of Albert Tucker and whimsical lightness of Brett Whiteley show a beautiful dichotomy of personal perspective and the manner in which events shape peoples' perceptions. And that is a wonderful thing. I try not be influenced by anyone in a visual sense, but I am very open to the philosophical ideas of writers such as Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad and old mate, Albert Camus. However, I will admit when I shot "Frantic Forest: The Scream", I saw a strong reflection of the work by Edvard Munch.

Ford Kristo Frantic Forest The Scream

"Frantic Forest: The Scream"
(© 2008 Ford Kristo. Used with permission of Ford Kristo. All rights reserved.)

Some of your images have a surreal, almost apocalyptic feel to them. Is your depiction of the natural environment perhaps a way of highlighting the strength of nature in the face of human selfishness?

No. The systems that drive "nature", as we know it, are as frail as they are precious. They need altruistic stewardship based on good science and rational reason. Unfortunately, we are not mature enough as a society to take responsibility for our actions and rein in the greed that is inherent in us. There are still fools who deny that the earth's climate is changing — even in the face of irrefutable data. The science of human ecology is not an optional belief system like religion, it is an evidence-based reflection of the realities that we swim in. My images are an attempt to show the values of the environment that we are laying waste to and the indiscriminate forces we are unleashing in the mad, selectively ignorant race to better our personal circumstances.

Your images are particularly vivid in terms of the palette you use. Do you post-process much in order to convey a particular feeling within the shot?

I shoot both "as it is" and "as I imagine it". It all depends on the end use of the image ... all photography is an illusion. I develop ideas for images and go looking for them in the real world. I have a reasonable notion of what I need to capture and how it will be post-processed to get an image that I have already mentally created before I go into the bush with a camera. Digital photography allows huge creative flexibility and a total involvement for someone who wants to do more than frame up and expose a shot.

What do you hope people will take from your photographs?

Through greater appreciation and understanding I hope that people will take some level of responsibility for the ecosystems that sustain them. This means that beyond expressing an "ooh and ahh" response, people must act — both personally and politically.

More of Ford's work can be viewed on his website, www.fordfoto.com.au, or his Flickr gallery.

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ralph woollcott posted a comment   

hey ford, sorry I missed you on the weekend. Got to the phone too late to get your number...the machine (with it's chintzy little message) didn't record it!! Love to catch up sometime. By the way, great pics...but they always were!


Sos posted a comment   

Great Images!!! Highlights beauty that most eyes would never see. Thanks Ford.


Connie posted a comment   

simply beautiful photos (some a bit scary)


dane posted a comment   

Epic photos and great article


Gerry posted a comment   

I'd love to do night images like these but the night sky in Sydney is hopeless for it. Awesome photos.


Peter Wilding posted a comment   

Great and inspiring Ford. I've been moved by your powerful words and wisdom. Though you don't believe in God you certainly have the nature of somebody who does. This proves that man and our planet is worth saving and we should all do our bit towards fixing things.

Your photograph of the trees is stunning.


lenzeye posted a comment   

Yeah. I agree with you argus. The light painting shots are amazing. Ive never seen it done on such a big scale. Fantastic shots! Love the fire and wildlife stuff too


argus posted a comment   

Although I don’t go for nature images much - these are amazing. This guys work is very different. I think the hdr complaints below are confusing hdr treatment with light painting.


nanny posted a comment   

i've seen them before and i still love them. i suppose family connections bias me. :P

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