One of Australia's leading and most respected photographers, the legendary Merv Bishop.

FLASH BLAK: Merv Bishop's life through words, music and photos

Issue 88

SPECIAL FEATURE: In Flash Blak, Indigenous professional photographer Merv Bishop will take you on a captivating journey through the photos and recollections of his family history and professional life: the big issues, the recognisable front page images, and the stories behind the camera...the ones you have never heard.

Merv worked with the Sydney Morning Herald for 17 years from 1963 capturing historic moments in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous affairs.

He was rewarded with the News Photographer of the Year Award in 1971 for his photograph Life and Death Dash and his 1975 image of Gough Whitlam pouring soil into the hand of Gurindji land owner, Vincent Lingiari is now part of Aboriginal land rights history.

Later, Merv began work for the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs where he captured the mood and conditions of Indigenous Australia throughout the 80s and 90s.

Flash Blak is a significant collaboration between Merv Bishop and one of Australia's most respected artists, William Yang.

William's slide performances have travelled throughout the world impressing audiences with their honesty, wit and compassion.

Flash Blak marks William's debut as a Director and he is without doubt the natural choice to play out Merv's stories and weave them together into a moving and personal tale.

From family snaps through to Merv's extensive professional portfolio of photographs, Flash Blak leads us into the private life of an extraordinary man.

His stories include how his grandmother learned to read and discovered that she was a free woman; how his father became an "honorary white man"; how Merv grew up in Brewarrina and eventually became the first Indigenous person to gain a cadetship with a major daily newspaper.

Recently, William and Merv set out on two road trips around Brewarrina capturing the characters and landscapes from Merv's childhood and writing and editing together his family and personal history.

For anyone who has an interest in the changing conditions of Australian society, a love of photographs or a tale of hope and politics told with humour, Flash Blak promises to capture the spirit of a great family and a great man.

Merv Bishop will perform with an original musical score by Drew Crawford (Eugene and Roie, Taming of the Shrew and Lounge Music).

• Flash Blak will play from Tuesday September 27 to Saturday October 1 at Turbine Rehearsal Room, Brisbane Powerhouse nightly at 7pm. Tickets are $24/$19. For bookings phone 07 3358 8600 or log on to (see link below)


Merv Bishop has worked as a photographer for over 40 years and won numerous awards for his work including news photographer of the year 1971 and the Red Ochre Award 2000.

Merv Bishop worked with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for many years and spent 17 years with the Sydney Morning Herald.

His exhibitions include "In Dreams" at the Australian Centre for Photography and examples of his work are held in numerous collections including the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of NSW.

Merv Bishop is the first and only Indigenous person to have been employed by the Sydney Morning Herald as a photojournalist.