Craig Gibson tells us about his time photographing Mulletfest, a convention for those with mullets

Taking place in the small town of Kurri Kurri in Australia, Mulletfest is a celebration of the characteristic cut.

31 July 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

Sometimes, something will land in our inbox which just seems so entirely perfect for us, it produces genuine gasps of joy from our editorial team – and Kentucky Waterfalls is one of those projects. A series shot by London-based photographer Craig Gibson, it features a series of portraits of attendees to Mulletfest 2020, which is exactly what you think it is, a convention for people with mullets.

Taking place over three days at The Chelmsford Hotel in Kurri Kurri, New South Wales, Australia, Craig travelled to the other side of the world after stumbling upon the event online. “I’d go on every so often to see if there were any updates on when the next festival was happening,” he recalls, enthralled by the press images and videos, and iPhone snaps he’d seen from previous Mulletfests. A clearly fascinating topic, Craig took “a gamble” and booked a ticket to Mulletfest 2020 with the intention of capturing a more intimate side to the event and its attendees in comparison to the “busy and loud” which already excited. “I chose to wander around the festival and ask people who I thought would make an interesting portrait,” he tells us.

The location of the festival, Kurri Kurri is a small ex-coal mining town which was hit hard when the mines closed in the 60s and has struggled to recover. “The town itself is covered in hand-painted signs and murals, faded by the sun,” Craig describes, “it essentially looks like a William Eggleston photograph.” And the reception Craig received was a warm one, with the people at the venue even giving him his own room to shoot in. In this makeshift studio, Craig photographed more than 50 attendees he estimates, all scouted during his time walking around Mulletfest. “I was spoiled for choice,” he adds.

GalleryCraig Gibson: Kentucky Waterfalls

Aesthetically, the portraits are fairly formal and uniform, shot against a brown backdrop and largely composed as head and shoulder shots. “I wanted to create something quite timeless, more considered and intimate. Leaning towards a more fashion-based portrait or even a beauty series,” Craig explains on this choice. “The festival is loud and busy and there’s a lot of photographers/media there, people are often encouraged to play up to the cameras. I wanted to make it more about the aesthetics of the people and their style rather than the event itself, which was being covered pretty heavily by the guys at Vice, Getty etc.”

There’s one image in particular which jumps out to Craig from the series, depicting a 16-year-old attendee who’s 6ft 6” (above left). “I couldn’t believe it. I was quite intimidated when I went over to ask if he’d be interested in having his portrait taken,” the photographer remembers. “He was at the festival with his dad and his brother and politely agreed. We all went upstairs to my makeshift studio upstairs and he seemed quite entertained by my conversation with his dad (him being Irish and me being Scottish). I guess I was surprised at how shy and gentle he was. I found that with quite a lot of the guys there.”

This is what Craig hopes he’s managed to portray about Mulletfest and those who attend it – a quieter, more intimate side to the spectacle. There’s a lot of expectation in terms of the types of people who attend, particularly in regards to stereotypes surrounding Australia’s bogan culture but that’s exactly what Craig wanted to avoid. In turn, Kentucky Waterfalls, which takes its name from a nickname for the hairstyle, challenges our perceived notions of those who choose to rock this characteristic cut while simultaneously recognising this small town which, once a year, welcomes visitors from around the world to participate and spectate in the celebration of the polarising haircut.

Kentucky Waterfall is now available as a zine on Craig’s website, and ten per cent of the proceeds will be donated to Refuge.

GalleryCraig Gibson: Kentucky Waterfalls

Share Article

About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.