Hello, I’m Andrew Bertuleit, a passionate photographer based in Nhill, Victoria.
Welcome to my website. The images on this site are a culmination of over 10 years of looking for interesting things to photograph. I've driven many thousands of kilometres, walked a whole lot and flown in a bunch of planes and helicopters to take them, all so I could sell the prints at my gallery in order to pay for those helicopters, plan the next trip and buy one more lens.
My story starts back in 2008, when I decide to buy a digital camera. Knowing practically nothing about cameras or how to use them, I go to the camera store, have a chat to the guy behind the counter about which one to buy. and he gives me some advice.
“They’re all good and they all do pretty much the same things, but one of them is going to instinctively feel better in your hands than the others”. One does, so I buy that one.
I take it home, unbox it and, ignoring the manual, immediately start shooting. The results are terrible, so I read the manual. None of it makes sense and I feel like an idiot for spending $1,500 on a new toy I have no idea how to use. Fast forward a few weeks and I’ve re-read the manual (which still doesn’t make sense) but at least now I can actually take a picture. The pictures are still terrible. This annoys me because, for some reason, I thought this might be something I’d be good at.
Fast forward another few weeks and I feel brave enough to change from ‘Auto’ mode to ‘Manual’. My first shot comes out completely black. I try again, thinking something must be wrong with the camera and I get the same result, so I take it back to the store. The guy behind the counter has a look at it, takes a couple of shots, hands it back and politely suggests I go home with my perfectly fine camera and re-read the manual.
Fast forward another few weeks and I now know what an aperture is and how it ties in with shutter speed and ISO and, because of all this, my pictures no longer look like the bottom of a coal mine at midnight. But they’re still terrible and this bugs me enough that I buy ‘How to’ books, Google endlessly, and watch countless YouTube tutorials.
Finally, I have a basic understanding of how my camera functions and I go nuts and shoot anything and everything. I shoot 200 images of my neighbour’s cat.
Fast forward another year and the moment I had been dreading was upon me. It was time to learn Photoshop. Being that I’m a complete idiot when it comes to computers and technology this was my worst nightmare, but since I had outgrown the free software I was using I have to suck it up.
Fast forward a few weeks and I wish I’d never bought a camera. I understand none of it. Even though I’m an atheist, I pray that God, Allah and Buddha will band together and make me smart enough to understand adjustment layers, the difference between canvas size and image size, why I should process in Bridge first and what a smart object is. They don’t.
Fast forward another few weeks, and I’m at the point where extreme measures are called for: I stop drinking.
A few weeks more and the tiniest sliver of understanding can be glimpsed through a fog of pixels. Months go by, I mostly understand adjustment layers, I have a vague idea of canvas vs image size, I always process in Bridge first and I’ve completely given up on smart objects but I open a beer anyway.
Fast forward another year and by now I’ve spent many thousands of dollars on bodies, lenses, tripods, printers, lights, bags, flashes, software and computers and I start to feel that, because I’ve spent so much money on all this stuff, it should start earning me some back. Soon my partner threatens to leave if she ever hears me say “I just need to find a way to make money with the camera” one more time (“I just need one more lens” is another favourite). So I try doing real estate photography, family portraits, shooting for web designers, shooting for anyone who asks, product photography and, when none of these feel like a good fit, and against all my better judgement, I try weddings. This is enough to convince me that I’m on the wrong path entirely - and that’s when I have an idea.
Instead of shooting for other people and constantly having to look for new jobs, I’ll shoot what I want, how I want, and see if anyone wants to buy a print. The benefits, I think, are many. I can sell the same image more than once, unlike all the other jobs, I don’t have to rely on other people to give me work, I don’t have to chase people for payment and I have complete artistic freedom.
So I apply for a stall at the Queen Victoria Market and spend my days and nights shooting all around Melbourne and everywhere else I can get to. I get accepted and open the world’s worst photography market stall because I have no idea what I’m doing. I figure out what I’m doing and the stall gets better. I buy the biggest printer I can afford and go without a couch or TV, because there’s no room in my tiny new apartment (I said the magic phrase too many times).
I save some money and spend winters away from the market, driving around the country and shooting anything that looks interesting. I do this year after year, driving as many as 40,000 kms a trip. I eat more service station meat pies than is good for anyone. Eventually I tire of living in my car for months at a time and I ask myself, “What’s next?”.
I decide to go global. I plan and book a four month trip overseas, work out roughly how much this will cost, and panic. I go anyway. I come back with lots of images, the ability to recite the in-flight safety lecture in my sleep and an empty bank account. Another year goes by and I ask “What’s next?”.
I buy a motorbike that will take me places even four wheel drives can’t go and ride around half the country, sleeping in a tent by the side of the road, showering infrequently and eating more service station pies. After a few months I come back sore, tired and broke but with many more images. Another year passes and I ask “What’s next?”.
I decide to move from a casual stall to a permanent shop in the market with four walls and a roller shutter. This way I can make it a proper gallery, move the printer in and showcase my best work. I sign a lease, fork over all my money, borrow more money, spend it all on setting up the gallery and hope for enough sales that I won’t have to eat cat food. The plan, as much as I have one, is to employ someone to run the gallery while I’m out on the road shooting. I’ve now been at the market around ten years - I’ve sold many prints to many people, travelled extensively throughout Australia and half the world and, so far, managed to run out of money only a half dozen times. So what’s next?
It's March 2021 and I've closed the gallery and moved from Melbourne to Nhill in country Victoria. Why? To spend more time shooting and less time selling. After so long at the gallery I was becoming a shopkeeper instead of a photographer and I wanted to get back to doing what I like best. So how am I going to make a living in Nhill? Good question. Stay tuned.
Thanks for taking the time. I've enjoyed creating these images and I hope you enjoy them too.
Let me know if you have any questions.