“Golden Glory” taken on the Burnett River by Rose Hamilton-Barr.
“Golden Glory” taken on the Burnett River by Rose Hamilton-Barr.

Inside a local photographer’s fascinating life

GIVEN a camera at the age of seven, Rose Hamilton-Barr has lived and breathed photography her whole life.

Growing up in New Zealand and moving to Australia in the late 70s, Ms Hamilton-Barr said she learnt how to photograph through watching her artist mother, who she says is her inspiration.

“I grew up with an artist mother who taught me what beautiful looked like,” Ms Hamilton-Barr said.

“I really understood composition from her.”

Later in life, Ms Hamilton-Barr developed her photography skills through her day-job as a photojournalist.

Now, she photographs everything from people to birds and stunning sunsets, but loves the most when she can be alone with nature.

“The truth is that I am an introverted extrovert, I know how to deal with people, I just don’t really want to,” Ms Hamilton-Barr said.

“Leave me home alone with a book and I’ll be happy.”

Rose Hamilton-Barr in her element.
Rose Hamilton-Barr in her element.

Being a single mum and raising five children for 31 years, Ms Hamilton-Barr is now a grandmother to seven.

“They grew up and I still liked them and they still liked me and that was a good thing,” she said.

“They make me behave myself, they used to have a swear jar for me.”

Ms Hamilton-Barr has lived in Australia since she was 18 and in Gayndah for 26 years now, but still calls herself a kiwi.

“When I arrived in Brisbane, I got off the plane and it was 21 degrees, it was Spring and I thought yes, this is it,” she said.

“You can be in somewhere but not of somewhere, that's how I am.”

Living and working in the North Burnett, Ms Hamilton-Barr has made lifelong friendships and captured breathtaking photographs.

She takes pictures of school-leavers for their formal and has flown all over country for weddings, but has a soft spot for the beauty of her surroundings.

Ms Hamilton-Barr’s garden is her sanctuary and the place where most of her photos of birds are taken.

“My specialty is little birds cause they’re harder than bigger birds,” she said

“I go for tiny little ones like fairy wrens and little golden-headed cisticolas.”

Every year, Ms Hamilton-Barr sells two calendar designs filled with her work, one called “Stunning Skies” and the other “Beautiful Birds” for $25.

“Every year I have a competition with myself about which one is going to out sell and it's always the birds – except for last year,” she said.

One of Ms Hamilton-Barr’s favourite places to go “birding” was Ban Ban Springs, before if dried up. This image is called “Fairy Wrens”.
One of Ms Hamilton-Barr’s favourite places to go “birding” was Ban Ban Springs, before if dried up. This image is called “Fairy Wrens”.

Ms Hamilton-Barr’s work is dotted throughout the region in various galleries, many of which are her captures of sunsets and sunrises.

When asked how she takes these images, Ms Hamilton-Barr said she can tell when it's going to be a good sunset by looking at the cloud formations.

“From about 3:15pm I’m cloud watching and if they are looking good around 4pm I might just head out to do some cloud shots and if they’re stormy well I’m watching carefully and I’m ready to go,” she said.

“You’ve gotta have a really fast shutter to get it.”

Ms Hamilton-Barr believes photography is the “study of light” and her three keys to good photography are angles, background and composition.

“If you’re gonna take a photo of a baby or a dog, you get down to their level,” she said.

“The best time of day to take a photo is early morning or late afternoon, end of story.”

Ms Hamilton-Barr takes fortnightly trips to Hervey Bay, where she captured this image called “Serenity”.
Ms Hamilton-Barr takes fortnightly trips to Hervey Bay, where she captured this image called “Serenity”.

Aside from photography, Ms Hamilton-Barr believes her best achievement was being able to take her mother who was 75 at the time, to meet her sister for the first time.

“My mother and her sister saw one another for the first time in 75 years,” she said.

“They had spent three quarters of a century robbed of a life together … it was just tragic and my mother couldn't have done it if I didn't take her.”

Ms Hamilton-Barr is now caring for her mother who is 88-years-old and said she loves every minute.

“I look after my mum, that's my main thing, cause I like her,” she said.

“She’s still painting and she is really pretty good.”

Whenever Ms Hamilton-Barr gets a spare time, she’s back out in nature with her camera.


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