One of Australia’s pioneering contemporary documentary photographers, Jon Lewis, has died.

Lewis died early on Sunday morning in Byron Bay from the progressively debilitating effects of Lewy Body Dementia. For more than four decades, Lewis documented social issues in Australia and the Pacific – from the struggles of Kiribati with global warming to Bougainville attempting to recover from the effects of its ambition for independence.

Lewis was also a founder of Greenpeace Australia and instrumental in bringing an end to coastal whaling during the group’s hazardous West Australian campaign.

One of Jon Lewis's characteristic Sydney street photogrphs.

One of Jon Lewis’s characteristic Sydney street photogrphs.Credit:Jon Lewis

If there was a visual signature to Lewis’s imagery it was his deceptively direct way of seeing. Far from the elegant geometry of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s pioneering Decisive Moment approach, Lewis frequently sought longer moments, especially in his Face to Face portraiture exhibition where his diverse subjects clearly accepted his presence with their intimate gazes to camera, whether it be the weathered, bearded artist Martin Sharp, or the innocent face of a child.

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