Joel Pratley doesn't think his photography is exceptionally "groundbreaking", but he does admit he has a knack for making the ordinary remarkably beautiful.
The 31-year-old - who grew up in social housing around Oak Flats - is defying the odds and recently worked on the film Penguin Bloom - a drama starring Naomi Watts, based on the best-selling book of the same name.
Pratley's job was to take still photos during filming for promotional material, with one of his stand-out images chosen to replace the book cover for the Young Readers' edition.
"It's pretty cool working with someone like Naomi Watts - someone quite famous with such stature," he told the Mercury. "She was the utmost professional and so cool."
If he didn't get what he needed during filming takes, he would be allotted a 30 second window to setup a shot with the actors.
"There's a whole production churning along, it's a delicate dance and a lot of trust involved as well," Pratley said. "They want to know you can get a great shot that tells the story that they're trying to share with others, and that you haven't pissed off 50 other people that are also working."
The photographer credits his art and photographer teacher from Oak Flats High School, Mrs Kuit, for helping him discover something he was actually good at.
"She's a total legend, and I'm sure she's inspired many, many kids from there," he said.
It was the only subject he excelled at in the final years of school, but it wasn't enough to get him into university nor a bridging course for tertiary studies.
After a series of "dead end jobs" and a stint travelling the world, Pratley realised his deep passion for photography and sharing people's stories.
At 23 he began his "unofficial apprenticeship" working in an equipment hire store before working his way up to be an assistant to respected photographers and picking up the secrets of the trade.
In 2018 he finally knew he was getting somewhere when a photo of his mother, Lisa, standing in front of a plain red-brick unit block wearing a plain blue tracksuit, was listed as a finalist in the National Portrait Prize and put on exhibition in Canberra.
"I actually joked with mum the other night that 'if there's one thing the Pratley's are good at, it's ... our ability to not take no for an answer," he laughed. "It's hard to beat someone who doesn't really give up."
Pratley enjoys taking portraits of people the most, using a person's environment to share their story in a "gritty" yet "humbling and dignified way".
"Due to the way I grew up in social housing with a single mum, I realised I had the ability to tell stories and connect with people from all walks of life - especially those who were a bit disenchanted or don't have a soap box to stand on," he said.
And he hasn't forgotten his roots. Pratley can still be seen walking along the corridors of Oak Flats High School on the odd occasion, there to inspire others just as Mrs Kuit inspired him.
"It's a really nice sense of duty, it's really meaningful when I can go back and inspire kids to ... do a lot of things and dream a bit bigger with persistence and hard work."