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Famed snapper has no boundaries
Famed snapper has no boundaries

Her photographic subjects include the Queen and luminaries such as Cate Blanchett, as well as the hidden subculture of adults who choose to dress up as babies.

But the work of Australian photographer Polly Borland is relatively unknown in her home country.

A documentary launching the new season of Artscape on the ABC gives viewers an insight into this internationally acclaimed artist.

The images captured through Borland's lenses are arresting, unsettling, unforgettable.

"Images have become throwaway because they are so easy to access. It is hard now to be the real deal and have authenticity to one's work," said Borland via phone from her home in Los Angeles. "I don't take photographs with an audience in mind. Any response is a good response. If people are moved or affected, that is a bonus."

The documentary shows Borland shifting between subjects: celebrities, subcultures and strange creatures of her own creation.

"To me they are all interchangeable," she said. "What could be more extreme than a celebrity? They are no more part of the mainstream than society's fringe dwellers. I have a certain amount of empathy for people. I loved the adult babies. There is pathos there and it shows how difficult life can be. I feel comfortable enough in myself to move in and out of different situations."

Except that is, when meeting the Queen. "I was a nervous wreck. I thought I wouldn't be fazed but I was totally fazed. I lost the power of speech."

These days Borland is more interested in her own personal work then taking portraits, but there are a couple of people she would still like to photograph. "I am interested in iconic people like Barack Obama. But the person I would really like to photograph is Shirley Temple Black.

"I would just photograph her as she is, a straightforward portrait. I was a huge fan of hers as a child."

Borland credits another childhood favourite, a book called The Lonely Doll, by Dare Wright, for sparking her interest in photography. The story, told through text and haunting black and white photographs, concerns a friendless doll and the teddy bears that become her companions.

"I loved that book. It had a huge influence on me and was my inspiration."