Born in 1963 and raised in the suburbs of Brisbane, David Kelly was, from a young age, drawn close to the raw embers of Australia’s heartland: its sweeping red deserts; its towering rainforests; its lone-store shanty towns pulsing with hidden life, all-too-real death and rich, earthy colour. Perhaps he’s a storyteller first and a photographer second, a true photo-journalist. A seeker is probably a more apt description, a man searching for a source and often finding it: in the serpentine trail of an endless Cape York river; in the gentle hang of a dew-heavy forest fern; in the cheeky smile of an outback Chinese store clerk, proud as punch of the hot tin shack that he calls home. His camera moves slowly, as if he’s giving the lens time to connect with the land; to feel the dirt; to connect with the story; connect with the source. He has spent the latter part of a globe-crossing career immersing himself in the culture and stories of indigenous Australia, a world he has entered with care, respect and a soft footprint. His secret is time. He might spend a full day with his subject before he even clicks a shot off. That’s how he always finds the heart because a heart needs time to open. He tells the story with truth, insight, beauty and wonder. And every now and then his work transcends the story, transcends time and place, and there before you, as the chill reaches the bottom of your spine, are answers. Trent Dalton, journalist.