Alex’s Epic Battle – a project by Yvette Martinette and Brian Bird

Two photographers, a cast of 30 incredibly creative people and an inspirational young man come together for a post apocalyptic adventure


Having had the pleasure of participating and assisting Karen Alsop on a number of HeART Projects, Yvette Martinette and I were eager to step behind the camera and make our own contribution. Two photographers with different artistic styles and one big idea!

Developing the Theme

Yvette and I had assisted on a few HeART Projects together and we also collaborated on a children’s portrait workshop. So, it seemed quite natural that we would team up to produce our first ‘solo’ project together. As we began to discuss prospective themes, Yvette came up with a wonderful idea that became the core objective of our photoshoot:

“We must do a shoot that represents the massive battles these kids must face when they are told that they are ill.”

Introducing Alex

At the age of 14, in the middle of Year 8,  Alex was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.Alex’s treatment was supposed to last 9 months, but a series of side effects that resulted meant that Alex would have to endure a total of 18 months of treatment and much longer in and out of  hospital. Alex’s battle included hundreds of blood transfusions, 50 platelet transfusions, two hip replacements and two strokes. Our photoshoot would be the perfect metaphor for the challenging battles Alex had to fight.

Bringing the Project to Life

Looking back now its easy to see that we were a little ambitious with our first project. Yvette and I were keen to create a large scale post apocalyptic theme that would incorporate large battle scenes. We reached out to Ken Abbott from Kenaz Concepts, who produces Scavengers of the Scarlet Wastes, a “post apocalyptic, scifi/fantasy webseries jammed full of video game elements and a healthy sprinkle of action and humour”.  Along with Ken came 30 cast and crew from the web series and an assortment of creative costumes props and post apocalyptic weaponry.

The project was set to take place over two days on two different locations, the Cronulla Sand Dunes and Ballast Point Park, with its wonderful backdrop of industrial  elements from the old Caltex refinery that once stood on the site. After weeks of planning and preparation, every thing was finally in place – it was time to shoot! Alex arrived on set and was quite excited to see the scale of the project. Ken sorted Alex’s wardrobe – and the cast of Scavengers were wonderful at making Alex feel part of the ‘tribe’.  It was time for ACTION!

The goal of our project was to bring a bit of joy to Alex and his family as well as to create images that were representative of his real-life epic battle. It was our pleasure getting to know Alex and his family during this process and an absolute privilege to be given this opportunity to help him tell his story.


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