In the latest edition of Eurobodalla Council's mailout newsletter Living in Eurobodalla Black Summer 2019-2020 the focus is on the bushfires and the recovery with stories that reflect on the time. One featured story is focused on South Coast photographer Josh Burkinshaw.
The photo above went viral around the world as news of the South Coast fires brought the intensity of the fires to the world stage. Photo by Josh Burkinshaw Images
The Living in Eurobodalla newsletter says: When people across the globe think of last summer’s bushfires in the Eurobodalla, many see them through Josh Burkinshaw’s eyes. The young locksmith’s images of the raw and savage beauty of the beast that stalked our shire for months were reproduced across the world. When Josh first started photographing the fires in November 2019, he had no idea he was recording history. He bought his first camera just four years before and says it was more good luck than good management that enabled him to capture the evocative images that later told our story to an international audience. “I took my first photo of the fires on the 26th of November,” Josh said. “I didn’t realise how big it was going to be.” Like many in the Eurobodalla, Josh sporadically fought fires throughout December and into January. His iconic shot of Point Upright ablaze (above) was taken only after a mate told him to get his camera - a Sony A7iii - out. “It was more luck than anything that I even had my camera with me,” he said. “I’d left my car in town and I didn’t want to leave my camera there, so I’d chucked it in the back of my mate’s car.” But even after he captured his stunning images, Josh was reluctant to use them. “When I took the photos, I was aware some people had already been through a firestorm and were living with the aftermath," he said. “I didn’t want to bring back bad memories or create negative feedback but I wanted to capture photos that would let the world know what was happening here. “I took photographs but I made sure I never got in anyone’s way. We all had more important priorities, we had each other to protect.” Some of Josh’s images went on to attract 750,000 views on Facebook and draw the attention of Sydney media, the New York Post and Al Jazeera. But he refused to take photographs of anyone’s burnt home, unless they specifically asked him to. “After the New Year’s Eve fires, I just put the camera down for five days and helped protect my friend’s mum’s house,” he said. In retrospect, Josh is glad he documented the lead-up to the New Year’s Eve disaster and wishes he’d taken more video at the time. “It’s one of those things that I hope we never see again,” he said. “But I think it’s changed our community for the better, and I’m grateful for that.” This article was first published in Living in Eurobodalla Black Summer - 2019-2020