A Family Road Trip

  1. life's swell! a family ROAD TRIP WITH PHOTOGRAPHER and father of two, SIMON UPTON, marks THE LAUNCH OF HIS NEW BOOK, tough stock

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  3. When photographer Simon Upton swapped the fashion circuit for Australia’s dusty rodeo trail, he captured a very different kind of elegance. The rawness intrigued him and forms the subplot for his new book, Tough Stock, launching this month. The former Olympic swimmer, who lives on Sydney’s northern beaches with his wife Aneta and two sons, Tyson, 11, and Koby, 8, began the project in the remote town of Narrandera in southern New South Wales, then traveled across four states to capture his compelling photographic essay. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Steve Waugh Foundation and Royal Flying Doctor Service. Here, his inspiration.
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  5. Tell us about the book’s story: I went to a rodeo in Nerrandera and was blown away by the people and the whole grittiness of the place. I met some amazing characters and it was inspiring to be around them. I wanted to work on a project that was out of my comfort zone, something different to what I had been doing. For me, it was about much more than just the riding – there’s an elegance and a craziness to what they do and those layers really drew me in.
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  7. Above: The Kids Are All Right: Simon Upton's sons, Tyson and Koby. Below: the photographer with his wife Aneta; and scenes from the couple's family getaway along the northern coastline, New South Wales.

As the father of two sons, how do you nurture their creativity? I never had that much of a creative upbringing; my interest in fashion came about through my sister Karin [Upton Baker, Managing Director of Hermès Australia]. But my children, on the other hand, see what I do, they take their own pictures, they come with me on photo shoots and we travel a lot. That’s the very best kind of inspiration.

Has your career perspective changed since having a family? Absolutely. I should probably be living in New York – I go there a few times a year and when I'm there the doors open up – but I want to raise my kids in Avalon where I grew up. The boys both surf and lead a good life. Having just returned from India I’m even more set in my mind on that; I know my sons are so fortunate to be growing up by the beach in Australia.

What’s your secret to keeping a work-life-family balance? There is no balance. Aneta and I try to keep to a schedule, more for the kids than anything, but then when the opportunities arise I also try to take my family with me when traveling as much as possible. I recently returned from a month-long visit to California with my son in the school holidays and we had a ball together – the kid from Avalon had eyes as big as dinner plates, it was an incredible experience for both of us.

And the lessons your sons have taught you? When you have children, you start to realise that maybe you were just a little bit self-absorbed before. Kids make you take that focus away from yourself – suddenly it’s about their world, and then you spend the rest of your life making sure that everything is perfect for them. There's nothing better.

Simon Upton's Tough Stock launches February 20. For details visit www.simonuptonfoto.com