David Foote was with the former Prime Minister John Howard in Washington DC the morning of September 11, 2001.
The official photographer for Parliament House was walking with Mr Howard around the White House moments before a plane flew into the Twin Towers. It was one of Mr Foote’s 70 overseas trips with seven different prime ministers in 28 years.
Not just politicians and their guests, Mr Foote was responsible for capturing Parliament House’s iconic building throughout the year.
He captured the world’s attention earlier this year with a photo of giant hailstones on the hill out the front of Parliament House.
It is one of 12 photos selected from 1,400 entries to feature in next year’s 2021 Bureau of Meteorology Calendar — all depicting Australia’s diverse weather events.
Putting your body on the line for the perfect shot
Mr Foote was in his office when he heard the roof rocked by turbulent rain. He grabbed his cameras and headed outside to face the following dilemma.
“I didn’t have a raincoat, I didn’t have protection for the cameras, and I didn’t even have a hat to protect my head from the hail that was falling at the time,” Mr Foote said.
He is not the only photographer featured in the calendar to put himself in weather’s harm’s way for an epic shot.
Despite growing up with dust storms in Mildura, Robert Klarich had never seen anything like one in November 2019.
The photographer was on the phone to his mum at the time when she suggested he look out the window.
“There wasn’t much of a breeze around but there was this sort of silent, eerie cloud coming in and it gave this kind of false sense of security,” Mr Klarich said.
When the phone photos failed to do it justice, he grabbed the drone.
“By the time I got … flying it was about five minutes away, so I had to work pretty fast,” Mr Klarich said.
Crazy clouds, circular rainbows, and the aurora australis
In a year of big weather events across Australia, dust storms were not the only storms to feature in the calendar.
Port Macquarie’s Ivan Sajko set up camp at one of his favourite vantage points — Tacking Point Lighthouse — to capture this thunderstorm.
The local photographer had been following storms since 2013 and said this was by far the biggest one he had seen.
“There was a crowd building at the lighthouse, and I decided to try and get a different shot … Luckily I chose the perfect location to get the whole structure of the cloud. If I’d been in town the storm would have passed overhead and it would have told a completely different story.”
This year’s theme, ‘Weather, climate, water and ocean services’ — attracted many photographs of wonderful cloud formations.
A winning entry of a mammatus cloud at Oberne Creek, New South Wales, reflected a deep connection with the land for local cattle farmer Robert Ellis.
“My father bought this property just after the Second World War in 1949, and this is the only life I’ve ever known,” Mr Ellis told the Bureau of Meteorology.
Photos as educational as they are stunning
Senior BOM forecaster Paul Lainio said the calendar was as much about education as entertainment.
“We’re after trying to save lives and property largely,” Mr Lainio said.
“We now have ways to get that information out … to help people understand the weather better and the changes that are happening and the way it affects them.”
For Helen Commens from Queensland’s Ourdel Station, her aerial photo of the local catchment system represented a deep appreciation for the ecosystem there.
“You can drive through Windorah and the Barcoo Shire and lots of places out here and think it’s really hard country,” Ms Commens said.
“It’s not until you see from the aerial perspective how amazing the country is.”
Having a husband as a chopper pilot allowed her to capture the Channel Country from the air.
“Our cattle put on so much weight — equal to a feedlot — when the rivers come.”
Big achievement to be featured
It was third time lucky for Ms Commens, who had entered the calendar competition twice before.
“It’s bloody hard to get on it,” Ms Commens said.
Not just for Australian audiences, the calendar has sold 1.4 million copies in 80 countries since its inception in 1985.