Rochelle Wong exhibiting at Foto Biennale

SPLASH: Melbourne-based photographer Rochelle Wong gives money made from photography sales back to the villages where she worked. Picture: Rochelle Wong

SPLASH: Melbourne-based photographer Rochelle Wong gives money made from photography sales back to the villages where she worked. Picture: Rochelle Wong

ROCHELLE Wong isn't your typical photographer.

As well as documenting everyday life through her camera lens, she uses her work to give back to the community.

For the last three years, the Melbourne-based photographer has traveled to India, taking photos in villages and cities alike and forging friendships along the way.

Wong said the friendships she made allowed her to return to the visited villages and take back photos as well as the money she made from photo sales.

"I use photography as a means of engaging with the people I photograph," Wong said.

"It's not just about me taking something but also giving something back.

"I go back to each village either the next day or the following year and take back the photos and any sales I make go back to the villagers as well."

Wong is exhibiting at this year's Ballarat International Foto Biennale fringe program.

Her exhibition, entitled Life in India, focuses on everyday life in the villages and cities of India and acts as a counterpoint to the images typically associated with the developing country.

Wong said she loved to focus on people, social issues, documentary and everyday life with her photography providing the means to communicate about these themes.

"My photos focus on things that are loud, colourful and large scale with a large portion on rural life and specific villages and a small portion that focuses on city life as well," she said.

"I wanted to show the beauty of life in India because quite often the media representation of the country is about extreme poverty or extreme numbers and about scale."

The Melbourne-based photographer will exhibit as part of the month-long festival along with her two photographer friends Raquel Betiz and Fran Jorgensen.

Betiz's exhibition Forget Me Not focuses on the experience of losing a loved while Jorgensen's exhibition Childhood focuses on the magic of being a child.

Wong and Jorgensen will both be exhibiting at the Ballarat Trades Hall in Camp Street and Betiz will exhibit at The Lane at The George Hotel in Lydiard Street North.

Wong said this would be the first time the three women would have their work in a solo exhibition.

"The three of us only met a few months ago at a photography workshop in Ballarat and in recent months we have bonded and supported each other as we prepare for our exhibitions," Wong said.

THE INFO:

What: Rochelle Wong: Life in India, Fran Jorgensen: Childhood and Raquel Betiz: Forget Me Not

Why: As part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale fringe program

Where: Ballarat Trades Hall in Camp Street and The Lane at The George, Lydiard Street North

When: Until September 20

Cost: Free

More information: ballaratfoto.org