SHAMBALA – By Shelley Carman


SHAMBALA ~ a meeting place of animals and birds, a myth and a narrative fable.

A story of love, grief and a new beginging.

This is my story, my life, my passion, my love.

We have been working on the photographic aspect of the project for over three years, but it started in 1963, the year I was born. The evolving of many experiences over the years came to a point of eruption on all levels after the death of my husband in 1998.

Two years of walking through the emotional roller coaster of this period led me to utilise art to express and resolve all of my life experiences, internal conflict and griefs that had accumulated not from only from this experience but rather of an accumulation of many.

IMG_8567The beginning of this healing process started with a series of hand drawings which I would then write from. This evolved into a myth and I had an experience which I find hard to put into words that I named at the time a “spiritual psychosis.”

From a camping trip and events from that weekend led me to write the backbone of the book that I am currently writing.

Ten years later we started to photograph the story in image form.

There have been ten creative shoots in total.  The book in its written form will be bound and a photographic series will also be part of the end result.

IMG_7655 copy

Our first part of the series was in April 2013.

We shot the Blue Wren, the First Nation Woman, and the ducks. Not sure what the weather was doing…

I do know no matter what I asked her to do Jodie would just do it.

In January 2014 we headed down once again to photograph the cormorant, the owl and the peacock, Mother Nature, whom I thought was not working with me was actually setting a nice moody mist and rain, She also provided us with a fox which is one of the animals in the story.

So having that happen was interesting on a personal level and never have cameras been grabbed so fast! The most intensive final photographic session was on March 5th 2016 and over that weekend the team headed down to Cumberland River for the last time to complete the final main birds that go with this story.


About Jodie:  Jodie who has stayed for the entire journey has been the only model to portray the birds and she is bloody amazing to work with. I will be forever grateful. Jodie has climbed up rocks, muddy embankments that were bloody steep and not to mention slippery, she waded through a flowing river, climbed up to a high cave with tulle shirts that often had 4 metre length tails. For all of us it has often been a long 12 hour day most times. But oh my, it sure has been amazing, challenging and one of the best times of my life ! And yes there have been some funny shots! There has been 10 make-up changes, 10 costume changes, so cool to watch and far exceeded my expectations.


About Kellie Mckay:

Simply a down to earth woman whose amazing creative artistry worked solidly to achieve what I needed as the end result for each bird.

I am looking forward to putting some behind the scene footage together eventually. As a team we worked, laughed and trusted each other’s personal touches.

Em from Lou-Lou Pictures is the main photographer who has captured the images for the final book release.

Luke assisted in portraying the First Nation Man and also played out the Albatross, and helped many times to get Jodie safely across to where she need to be. And last but not least Mark for all the beautiful behind the scenes pics. I bow and thank you all 🙂 thanks to everyone involved in all these session/shoots.

All the props and costumes which, believe it or not is half the fun  were created by me.

” None could have been achieved without the other”

Em268About Shelley:

Born Chelmsford, England

Came to Australia in 1970

Grew up in Torquay

Travelled Australia prior to having a family

Works as a psychiatric nurse

Owner of Seashells Wedding Photography, loves the writings of Carl Jung,

Artistic and creative

Totally fascinated by the power of love in all its layers and depths.

OL Almanac: Why did you choose the Otways to stage your beautiful and powerful images? 

Due to the experience taking place at Cumberland River I could not go anywhere else, something very magical there.

OL Almanac: What do you hope people will see/get/learn from your art?  

I hope that people will be able to relate and work on their own inner healing and create their own story. For some I hope it will inspire and encourage them to explore through narrative therapy.

I hope to one day have the book published and hold an exhibition.

Shambala project: Project design and making of costumes and writer of the book: Shelley Carman

Models: Jodie Thomas and Luke Carman


Main photographer:  Emma Carman

Second photographer: Shelley Carman

Behind the Scenes: Mark Walton

Make up artist: Kellie Mackay

Location: Cumberland River Caravan Park





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