Kate Ballis' Infra Realism

Fine-Art Photographer based in Melbourne
kateballis.com @kateballis
Published in Volume Thirteen


It was during her time off work as a lawyer, that Melbourne-based Kate Ballis started to explore the world of photography. Her fiancé, also a photographer, was teaching her everything he knew. She would photograph during her annual leave and during the weekends and would edit at night after work. It was exhausting, and it got to a point where Kate would have so many ideas she wanted to explore that she had to take a leap of faith and decided to change professions. Today, Kate is a full time fine-art photographer, exploring her wish to make the unseen seen.

Perhaps, this series is a way of finally attaining the dream-land we were sold in the 80s.

Infra Realism, Kate’s latest series, is doing exactly that. By converting a digital Sony camera and enabling it to capture infrared images, and playing with numerous colour filters, Ballis not only transformed her artistic muse, Palm Springs, California, into something more than a desert town; it gave her a window into a new world.

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“The infrared spectrum of light emanating from plants sits just beyond the light spectrum visible to humankind. When I started taking photos in infrared, I was able to focus on hidden things in nature that as humans, we’re not equipped to see. Things that lie just outside of our physical perceptions.”

Ballis started the series in February 2017, when she was attending Modernism Week at Palm Springs. It was her 9th visit to the desert, and the landscapes and towns she used to find mesmerising and otherworldly had declined into something ordinary. She wanted to re-enchant the city and the high desert landscapes.

“The colours I settled on for the series allowed me to question reality and create ambiguity in everyday scenes. In addition, the palette is so very 80s American and was perfect for the subject matter. I think I can’t escape the fact that I’m a child of the 80s who was swept up in the hyper colour dream that was marketed to us through pink Barbies driving blue mustangs, MTV, competitions to win a trip to Miami, and in general, the vision of America depicted to us in Australia. Perhaps, this series is a way of finally attaining the dreamland we were sold in the 80s.”