Australian Truck Drivers at Work and at Home in Jonathan Wood’s Project
Born in Papua New Guinea, lives in Brisbane, Australia. Self-taught photographer, started from freelance assignments, worked with Getty Images. Now works for big corporate clients and on his own projects.
My decision to do Overlanders was largely due to contact I have had with trucks drivers in the normal course of commissioned work and also spending my childhood in a rural area of Australia.
Truck drivers in Australia are not held in high esteem and are often viewed as a problem to other vehicles on the road, and people associate them with causing accidents. The general public do not give truck drivers much thought, but the role they play in ensuring the smooth running of Australian society is extremely important. Food, petrol and all other goods are nearly all delivered by road in Australia.
Many of the drivers live a very solitary existence, and spend much of their lives in the small sleeper of their trucks. It is not uncommon for them to travel 7000 km a week (potentially more). This fact fascinated me. I pursued the project to show the characters themselves, and the trucks that they call home.
I spent many hours waiting to meet the right characters, over several months.
My primary focus was on the truck, rather than the driver. I felt that if the truck had character, so would the driver.
I didn’t want to include any trucks which were owned by multi-national or corporate clients, I wanted to showcase the drivers that were old school.
Many of the drivers I approached were very suspicious and did not want to talk to me or be involved. I think many could not grasp why anyone would find them interesting or want to take a picture of them. Some warmed to the idea and we would chat for hours before they allowed me to take their picture. Some only allowed one shot. Only one or two were open to the idea straight away.
Although truck drivers often have rough appearances and demeanors, after chatting with them and digging a little deeper, you see that they are goodhearted, hardworking and simple folk who take life as it comes.
There was one driver, in particular, named “Jock” that I remember well. He grabbed my camera straight after we met and would only let me take his picture if he could take one of me. It was quite interesting because it gave me an insight into how it must feel when I approach people and ask to take their picture. I found it quite unsettling standing there… this made me adjust my approach to the drivers from then on.