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From Swan to Snapper – Q&A with Ryan Brabazon catches up with former Sydney player Ryan Brabazon, who recently showcased his photography at his first solo exhibition. You can view his work, and purchase prints, via his website.

What are your memories of your first AFL game?

My first game was against the Bulldogs at Manuka Oval in Canberra. I had been at the club for a couple of years and had to work extremely hard to get a chance to play. It was a huge honour at the time to get a game for Sydney.

You came to the club just after the 2005 premiership and watched your teammates compete in another Grand Final a year later. Did it help your development as a player and a person being surrounded by success?

The culture at the Swans was so strong when I arrived as a draftee. It was a shock to arrive at a club like that on the back of their premiership, as an 18-year-old from country Western Australia. The club was so professional and focused and it took a little while to adjust and fit in.

Arriving at that time made it hard to break into the senior side. Spots in the team were pretty well cemented and they didn’t change much for the next few years.

As the years went on though, I was involved with so many remarkable people that helped me grow as an individual. It was such a professional environment that demanded high standards, on and off the field. The time I spent at the Swans moulded me into who am I now.

Did you have ambitions to make it back to the AFL after being delisted in 2009?

Yeah, absolutely. When I was cut from Sydney, I decided to move back to Perth and play in the WAFL for Claremont. I invested all of my time into getting re-drafted. At the end of my first season at Claremont I did some pre season training with Essendon but that didn’t work out. I ended up playing another year in the WAFL before my priorities changed and I moved back to Sydney to pursue photography.

Where did your interest in photography come from? 

Photography was always a hobby for me. When I was growing up in Albany, W.A. we would always take disposable cameras with us surfing and skating and try to capture those moments. More recently, when I was playing football at the Swans, I was friends with a couple of photographers who I would go along with and assist on shoots. That’s when I realised there’s actually an avenue to make a living out of photography.

How long have you been doing it?

I started to take photography seriously around two and a half years ago. My priorities began to change away from football and I moved back to Sydney from Perth to focus on it. I realised that playing AFL has such a short life-span and it was time to look into life after football.

Photography is something I am really passionate about and enjoy doing. It allows me to travel the world and work.

What type of photos do you take?

I shoot fashion photography for clothing labels and magazines. I also document my travels and take photographs of landscapes. The photos on my website are mainly based around my fashion work in the United States, Europe and Australia.

You recently had your first solo exhibition, can you tell us about that?

I had my first solo exhibition at the beginning of May in Sydney. It was an honour to have it presented by Russh Magazine, which is a really well renowned fashion magazine based in Australia.

I don’t use digital cameras; all of my photographs are taken on 35mm film, including the shots in the exhibition. There were 14 landscape photos exhibited that were taken in the last 12 months across about four road trips in the U.S.

Are you still involved in football?

I am now a Playing/Assistant Coach in the NEAFL for Sydney Uni. This is my second season at the club and it’s really enjoyable. We have a great bunch of guys on our list and on our coaching staff.

It’s the only Sydney club in the NEAFL, apart from the Swans and GWS, and it has been great to help develop this club into a strong NEAFL side. They offer a great chance for players who have been through the AFL system to begin focusing on their studies and look into the next chapter of their lives whilst still being able to compete at a high level.

You can see more of Ryan Brabazon’s photography on his official website –