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Ivan Gaal


Photographer and filmmaker Ivan Gaal
at his exhibition in Warburton.

Gaal captures ‘soul’ moments

by Jesse Graham

This article was originally published in Mountain View Mail, November 21, 2016..

AN EXHIBITION of photographs from filmmaker and photographer Ivan Gaal’s 40-year career will hang on the walls of Warburton’s Arts Centre until next year, after opening earlier this month.

People, Stories and Dance features 47 works from Mr Gaal’s career as a filmmaker and photographer, based in Melbourne and in the Upper Yarra area.

The exhibition officially opened on Saturday, 12 November, and will run until Tuesday, 31 January, 2017.

Mr Gaal said some of his photographic subjects attended the opening, and some of them gave speeches about his work.

“People wrote stories into the (visitor) book, and everybody was happy, because they know me, they knew me, and they just spoke beautifully, eloquently, about the work that I’ve done,” he said.

The photographs in the exhibition range from black and white film photos taken on a Mamiyaflex camera, through to digital prints taken of the late Ron Howard, one of which was a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize.

When asked what makes a good portrait, Mr Gaal said it was about seeing the subject and capturing “a moment that can express their soul”.


“I’m looking for the soul of a person, you know? I can’t make people look beautiful; I like to get the truth, capture them as they are, get the reality of it all,” he said.

“When you look at the actual purity of some photographers, they just put a person in front of a coloured board. I don’t know. It’s not really my style.”

Pointing out a photograph of his wife, he said the photo wasn’t his best of her, aesthetically, but captured one of those moments.

“She said, ‘You took so many good photos of me’, and I said, ‘Yeah, but the soul wasn’t there – that’s the best photo, because you really look relaxed and you’re enjoying yourself’,” he said.

Along with taking photos, Mr Gaal has produced many films during his career, and cites Zen and the Art of Photography – quotes from which he pinned up around the exhibition – as an inspiration.

“I didn’t know what I was doing it, but I was doing it well – not for money, but for my own satisfaction, and for art,” he said.

“Now, you get older and you become more conscious – the book says that.

“You’ve got to keep that natural instinct that you’re working and taking the photos with, but you’ve also got to be aware of it.”

Entry to the exhibition, at the Upper Yarra Arts Centre, 3409 Warburton Highway, Warburton, is free.

For more information, visit

© Jesse Graham, November 2016.

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Melbourne independent filmmakers is compiled by Bill Mousoulis