About Karin Gottschalk of ‘Unititled’

I was brought up, as so many of my generation were, to be seen and not heard, and preferably not be seen at all. Modesty was considered the supreme virtue. So speaking about achievements does not come easy. Here is an attempt at a list of some of them.

  • Family background is ethnic, rural, uneducated and working class, and I was born in a little hospital in a tiny town beside a river in far north Queensland aka FNQ.
  • Took up documentary photography as a means of coping with extreme culture shock after I was moved at the age of 13 from an eastern states capital city to a tiny west coast town on the edge of the desert and the southern ocean, going from one of the finest senior high schools run on university lines on the east coast to one of the most disadvantaged junior high schools in Australia.
  • Formal secondary schooling effectively ended at the age of 13, following longstanding family tradition.
  • After teaching myself photography with a Kodak Instamatic 33 and staging my first photography exhibition, was offered a job as part-time newspaper photographer and then district correspondent for a newspaper group in regional Western Australia from age 15, later moving to another regional newspaper group closer to Perth.
  • Exhibits officer for a regional museum in southwest of Western Australia producing photographs, artworks and restoring historic farm and industrial machinery, while also working as a wedding photographer to put myself through university.
  • Enrolled in photography, conceptual art, printmaking, painting and art history at Curtin University School of Art and Design in Perth, Western Australia. Denied right to study filmmaking there due to being enrolled in Fine Art and not Design.
  • As a consequence, concurrent to my enrolment at Curtin I studied filmmaking and cinematography at Central College of TAFE, later tutoring there in cinematography and consulting on design of new photography teaching facilities.
  • Winner of tertiary-level Channel 7 Young Filmmakers Festival Award and special cinematography award for a groundbreaking 28-minute science fiction feature film co-produced with Central College of TAFE as a student. The awards were then rescinded by festival board members from Curtin University’s School of Art and Design due to their dispute with Central College of TAFE on its right to tertiary status. “I’m sure you understand the School’s prestige mustn’t be damaged by TAFE college students winning for the very first time,” we were told minutes before curtains-up on Festival Award presentation night. The prizes were apparently to be an all expenses-paid trip to the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in Sydney along with accelerated entry into a degree stream and with a scholarship. I would have chosen the Cinematography degree program. It is easy to forget how tightly access to information and professional training was controlled by powerful men in the era before the World Wide Web, #MeToo and #TimesUp.
  • Production assistant on German telemovie and Canadian television series in Western Australia.
  • Fellowship in Photography at Edith Cowan University where I worked on personal documentary photography projects and consulted on design of new photography teaching facilities.
  • Photography teacher for creative high schools and self-run independent photography workshops.
  • Commercial and corporate photographer on location for mining companies and corporations in Western Australia.
  • Magazine editorial portrait photographer for a range of glossy magazines and broadsheet newspapers in Sydney, specializing in emotive full-face close-up portraits, semi-surreal environmental portraits and documentary reportage about creative and innovative Australians. Discovered my work was being collected by a number of respected Australian art directors and designers.
  • Acquired debilitating photochemical reaction dermatitis leading to permanent photochemical allergy requiring stepping away from analog photography, later taking up digital photography and moviemaking when hardware and software had become sophisticated, accessible and affordable.
  • Conceived, cofounded and worked as European Contributing Editor for (not only) Black+White magazine, based in Sydney then London.
  • Built global networks of photographers and directors twice, once as subjects for magazine stories and once for commissioning and producing for global advertising campaigns for major brands including adidas, BBC, English Heritage, Harrods, Hyundai, Porsche and many others.
  • AMX Studios pioneered e-commerce with some of the first online stores and I worked with them on proofs of concept of new online business models for BT (formerly British Telecom) using the latter’s world-first high-speed fibre broadband network in central London.
  • Conceived processes and technologies for placing photo libraries online in early days of the World Wide Web then set about convincing established London photo agencies and picture libraries to develop online presences.
  • Commissioned, briefed and produced established and up-and-coming photographers and directors for global and national advertising campaigns, scouted talented young photographers to help them get their first step up the advertising photography and directing career ladder, with special emphasis on undervalued female photographers and promising young Australian photographers seeking to build brilliant careers outside Australia.
  • Fortunate enough to have worked with some of the finest copywriters, art directors, photographers and directors in the world, and my partner is one of the finest technical writers/illustrators in the world, one of the rare ones with a combined engineering and advertising agency background.
  • Researched, wrote and pre-produced a documentary TV series on the motivations and methods of notable Australian and foreign photographers. My New Director Program commission to produce and direct the first 50-minute episode of the series for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was cancelled at the very last minute due to demands from the then Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, as he imagined that the first episode based on the experiences in Laos of a war photojournalist might just possibly reveal the illegal actions of past US Presidents during and after the Vietnam War. Consequently the whole TV series and my nascent mainstream documentary directing career has been shelved indefinitely. I was required to hand over my TV project to a selected member of a shortlist I was given of male directors along with all of my rights, in return for a cursory cheque and an “Original idea by…” credit that seems to have vanished altogether now. The male director’s effort ended up telling the very opposite story to my intentions for the movie, and he alienated the subject so much that the project screeched to a halt twice.
  • Independent self-funded media professional working in photography, moviemaking and self-publishing, based in Sydney.

Image Credit

Header image by Carmel D. Morris.