Changing career to new focus a bestseller for Alice
SHE is as comfortable on the back of a horse as she is behind a camera and Alice Mabin is living her dream in a world where those two loves collide.
For almost half a year, Alice was battling the elements of outback Australia in a bid to capture the essence of her adoptive home.
Just months after purchasing her first camera, New Zealand-born Alice resigned from her high-paying job and took a chance at making a living out of stock stud photography and marketing.
It was a big risk.
Although she had a raw and natural talent behind the lens of a camera, photography was a new gig for the then-Roma girl.
She knew she would have to put in the hard yards to make it.
When looking for something to fill her first weekend as an unemployed person, Alice learned one of Australia's biggest ever herds of cattle was making its way through Roma, where she was based at the time.
She seized an opportunity to be part of an historic moment in our country's history and approached one of the drovers.
After proving she was a country girl and knew her way around the horse, Alice was allowed to stay and capture the crew's day.
"I took out some bread, milk and beer and I think they looked at that and thought 'this girl understands'," she said.
"I grabbed a swag and stayed the night. Then another night and another night. And then I had to go home because I ran out of clean undies."
Riding the high of her weekend, Alice pitched a plan to follow the nine "mobs" as they drove the 18,000-strong herd to Hay, New South Wales, back in 2013.
Although the drovers agreed, winning over the other stockmen was more of a challenge.
"One guy in particular gave me a really hard time," she said.
"I was like, just go about your daily life and if you've got a horse I can hop on it and ride and give you a hand, then I am all for that.
"I didn't try to be someone above them, I was just one of the boys - or one of the girls.
"And I guess they worked out I could drink and swear with the best of them - that always helps."
The journey was at times both physically and emotionally taxing for Alice.
"I can't explain how horrible the days were where it was 40-plus degrees and you've gone to bed and you have to have your swag over your head because all you can hear is mosquitos buzzing around you," she said. "You're going to bed just sweating. There is no cool part of the day.
"One day I burnt a quarter tank of fuel just sitting in my car in the air-conditioning on but it was so worth it."
During the trip, Alice - who is now based in Warwick - developed a plan to turn her images into a coffee table book.
After about six months of capturing the mobs' movements, Alice whittled 10,000 images down to 200 and backed herself to produce a bestseller.
And she did.
Leaving herself with less than a tank of fuel and $20 in her wallet, Alice used what was left of her savings to have 1000 copies of her book, The Drover, printed last June.
It sold out within a week.
Since then she has sold more than 10,000 copies, making it an Australian bestseller.
Alice attributes its success to physical features, such as its size and elegance, but also to the truth captured in the striking images.
"It's not dressed up, it's not dressed down. They're filthy and there's smokes and there's beer and it's their life," she said.
The Drover is $59.95 and is available at Hynes Newsagency at the Rodeo Heritage Centre in Alice St.
See more of Alice's work at almabinphotography.com.