Karl Monaghan is a boundary pusher of fine art photography. A self-taught pioneer in the field of photography, his name is synonymous with images of the Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia’s incredible Midwest region, and ambitious aerial photogrpahy of the magnificent coastline of Western Australia. Karl’s body of work is expansive, ranging from outback landscape photography in World Heritage Sites to aerial photography over coastal waters, striking shots of urban architecture and inner-city life in cities across the world..

Born in London to Irish migrant parents, Karl had a humble beginning. His father was a keen amateur black-and-white photographer, and he has fond recollections of visits to the local camera shop at the Royal Standard in Blackheath with its permeating smell of film-developing chemicals from their small family bathroom.

“It was a real treat going to the camera shop; the smell, the new shiny cameras, rows of Ilford photo paper boxes, Kodak signs; it was a special childhood memory.” 

By the late 70s, Karl had saved and purchased his first 35mm camera, a Pentax ME Super, and soon began experimenting with London street-scenes. A friends’ small attic dark room provided ample grounding while Karl worked diligently to perfect the craft of developing and printing, for what would become his full-time career some 25 years later.

“I have always had a camera close at hand, documenting life as I went along”

Upon leaving school at 16 Karl spent some time exploring Europe, hitchhiking around working casually in places like Bordeux France grape picking, and tomato picking in Switzerland Busking in Germany, and enjoying European culture. On return to the UK, his parent moved back to their native home of Enniskillen Norther Ireland. They were of course difficult times in the seventies and after a year or so Karl returned to London. Karl found a calling in the caring industry, and in 1981 began training as a registered Nurse, specialising in Mental health.

By the late 80s, Karl together with his wife and young children had emigrated to Melbourne, Australia where he immediately fell in love with the wild and diverse landscapes Australia had to offer. His career in nursing provided employment and wide-ranging opportunities for travel, from Melbourne to the Northern Territory before eventually settling in Western Australia. Attaining a Post-Graduate Diploma in Rural and Remote Health from La Trobe University Bendigo, paved the way for Karl to work in some of the most remote places in Australia. This experience ignited Karl’s desire to use photo imaging to enhance the delivery of healthcare presentations in Australian remote area health, health conferencing and for student nurse training.

The 2000s saw Karl shooting unique landscapes in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, capturing Mount Augustus through to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shark Bay, where the desert meets the sea.

“I had been flying around the Gascoyne region for many years, enjoying the majestic landscape from the air and just decided I need to photograph this”

In 2002, Karl began shooting with medium format film and 35mm transparencies while embracing the emerging digital technologies in image making.

Successful in his endeavours, Karl had all but retired from his decades-long nursing career in 2005 to pursue photography full-time. His first gallery opened in Carnarvon, Western Australia with a broadened scope to include wide format printing on Epson printers. To meet his high standards for quality control and ensure successful production of his own work, Karl purchased a picture framing business, providing an integrated approach for his photography and that of other artists and photographers.

In 2008, Karl moved his gallery and photography lab to Geraldton, the pearl of Western Australia’s Midwest region, where he expanded to deliver fine art printing, picture framing, his own landscape photography and extended photographic services.

Karl became a member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) in 2009, achieving a Master of Photography in 2016. Gaining awards annually including gold, silver-distinction and silver, Karl has also won coveted art awards in the Midwest Art Prize. Notably, the Eastman Poletti Architects Award in 2013 and the Mid West Award 2015.

“I want my photographs to evoke an emotion in people and share with them the natural environment, its extraordinary beauty and vastness”

‘Above + Beyond’, Monaghan’s exhibition, opened on 1st October 2021 in his Geraldton Art Gallery, showcasing a brand-new collection of aerial and landscape photographs of the Midwest. The very best images of the Abrolhos Islands, Pink Lake and Western Australia’s Midwest region are captured in vivid colours and full glory.

Today, Karl continues to push the boundaries of image making with his renowned Gascoyne Collection, demonstrating his talent as one of Australia’s finest landscape photographers.

The Gascoyne Collection showcases fine art aerial photographs and the awe-inspiring landscapes of the outback interior of Mount Augustus and the Kennedy Ranges, culminating in the coastal waters of Quobba Station, Western Australia.

“I enjoy the process and will continue to explore with enthusiasm the endless palette of colour of Western Australia and beyond” 

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