New Norm Magazine
My name is Webster Cao, an outdoor photographer and landscape architect based in Melbourne. My photography work is mainly about how we experience nature as human beings. I want the viewers to have an emotional connection with my photos as if these digital images were something they could touch and feel.
For me, a photograph is like a fragment and if I wanted to tell the whole story then I will need all the other fragments. That's why most of my works are shown in series, to achieve a sense of storytelling.
Where are you from / call home?
I've been living, studying and working in Melbourne for more than five years now, but I am originally from Dalian - a beautiful coastal city in northeast China, a place I will always call home.
What are some simple pleasures that you’ve rediscovered during the coronavirus pandemic?
As the world was on pause, it allowed me to think and plan my future career. I also have more time for my pets and rediscovered my girlfriend's incredible cooking skills.
Embracing slower living
How have you and your creative process changed?
It does have some impact on me. Due to the city’s lockdown and stay-at-home restriction, I couldn't go out freely for some photo shooting like I used to do. So instead of shooting new works, I decided to sort through my previous work and put a lot of time on my new website. Sometimes it's nice to slow down, recharge and prepare for new challenges.
What are some of the things that have changed in your country as a result of the pandemic? What is the new normal?
How people communicate has changed. No face-to-face activities or handshakes, everyone needs to keep 1.5 meters apart from one another. Most commuters are working from home now, group meetings are held online. As a result, empty streets and public spaces are the new normal.
Travel from home
What was your favourite destination and why?
Honestly, I don't have a favourite destination, because every destination is unique. Most of the places I like are in South Australia, where they the beautiful coasts that I've ever seen, like Port Willunga and Mount Benson. As you move further up north, you will see the desolate red landscape but most people have no interest in it at all. The farthest place I have ever been in South Australia is called Coober Pedy - A place where it's over 40 degrees Celsius every day in the summer, but the surrounding landscapes made me as if I was on Mars.
What are some of your most memorable moments during the trip?
We were on our way to Coober Pedy because the vehicle is too heavy and our planning mistakes. We ran out of gas on the highway in a no man's land. The funniest thing was that we were only ten miles from the next gas station. We started loading the tank with drinking water before the car ran out of gas, thinking that we could save some fuel by losing some extra weight, but that didn't get us to the next gas station. Fortunately, we were still able to get through to the roadside assistance call, and someone brought some petrol over to us a few hours later, right before the sunset.
What does travel give you that everyday life doesn’t?
Some unpredictable experiences which have made me learn more about how we experience nature as human beings. In my opinion, we should explore this beautiful world as much as possible before we leave it. After all, we only live once.
You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours, where would you go?
Iceland, no doubt. To me, it has the most spectacular scenery in the world.