Kicking goals to be AFL photographer

Aspiring AFL photographer Dylan Schafter is already kicking goals to realise his dream and has used COVID as an unexpected springboard.

The talented almost 17-year old launched his online photography business, Dyls Photography, three years ago and in his biggest career highlight to date, completed a coveted internship with the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns earlier this year.

He has won several awards for his work and one of his photographs was 11th in the Australian Photography Magazine’s Top 20 Junior Category. Further showcasing his versatility, Dylan has entered a nature photo in the Upper Yarra Community Bank’s 2022 Calendar Competition. His main motivation for entering was to highlight and share the natural beauty of the Upper Yarra.

“It is also a way of showing what I have learned in photography classes at Cire Community School’s Mount Evelyn campus,” said Dylan adding that he would have dropped out of school at Year 9 had he not switched schools to Cire. “The school is incredibly supportive.”

Dylan first developed an interest in photography at just 13, watching his brother race at BMX events and capturing “riders doing their thing”.

“When I held the camera, I saw something, my calling through the lens of photography,” he said, with his passion, willingness, determination, motivation and drive for sports photography fast-tracking him to where he is today.

Even COVID shutdowns and restrictions have failed to de-rail his quest to become an AFL photographer. He has used the time productively by sourcing and undertaking the internship with the Gold Coast Suns media team which saw his supportive family head north for their first holiday in 12 years so he could take up the invaluable opportunity. During COVID he has also explored volunteer gigs, secured a part-time job as a photographer; and further deepen his research and understanding of the profession and the pathways of the top practitioners.

Dylan says the most rewarding part of photography is holding down the shutter button and realising “you’ve captured the perfect photo”.

“Through sports photography, I’ve seen things through the lens that not many people get to see,” said Dylan whose favourite photographers are Chief Photographer of AFL, Michael Wilson and Hayden Pedersen, a freelancer/YouTuber.

“A good sports photo is based on timing, being able to follow the action; a good lens and knowing your camera.”

Dylan’s journey to date has not been without the critics having their say like, “You shouldn’t be doing photography, as you won’t get anywhere in life”.

“These words are jarring to hear,” said Dylan, adding that it was so important to follow and work towards your dreams, “Just go for it, as nothing is impossible if you put your time and mind into it.”

Describing his journey thus far, Dylan explained:

Last year during COVID-19 and lockdowns l contacted Field Of View Sports Photography based in Croydon about volunteering my time learning the ropes on how to take photos at sports events. Obviously, as COVID had hit hard there were no sporting events being played, so no photos were needed at this time. The owner, Jo loved my work but couldn’t take on a volunteer at the time. As soon as that lockdown was lifted l contacted Jo, to ask her when I could start. l have now been working for her for the past eight months. 

My greatest achievement has been my internship with the Gold Coast Suns in July. I was able to experience taking match game photos, team photos, press conferences, Captain’s run, AFLW draft selection, video and edit a team building session with the players, gym sessions and a photoshoot with some players. 

Sam Flanders - Gold Coast SunsI’m proud of all the photos I took at GCS, particularly of resigned key player Sam Flanders. It was the first time l had organised a photoshoot and they came out great…I am now a super keen GCS supporter!

My GCS experience has made me more determined than ever to reach for the stars and one day become a sports photographer for the AFL. Watch this space!!

Note. Voting closes on Sunday for the Upper Yarra Calendar Competition. For more information and to view Dylan’s beautiful On the Top image visit Upper Yarra 2022 Calendar Competition and Online Exhibition


Cire student a highlight of Rotary year

A presentation by Cire Community School student Elise, a Rotary scholarship recipient, was a timely and inspirational morale booster for the Rotary Club of Wandin in 2020, according to immediate past president, Paul Martin.

In reflecting on his term in office, Paul described Elise’s presentation via Zoom as a highlight of the year – COVID shutdowns and restrictions had brought the club’s community service to an abrupt halt and while members felt they were kicking few goals, they were inspired by Elise’s maturity and willingness to share her story and aspirations for the future.

Paul’s report was delivered at the club’s recent annual changeover function where Ben Vallence was inducted as the incoming president. Cire is one of the first organisational members of the club.

Paul said: “It is so rewarding to meet those who benefit from Rotary initiatives, “It gives true meaning to what we aspire to do, to make a positive difference to the lives of others.”

Elise and Wellbeing Coordinator Stephen Duke were special guests at a club Zoom meeting during a COVID lockdown in 2020, to acknowledge the awarding of a $2000 scholarship. Elise, was one of four students from the Community School to each receive $500 from the fund awarded by the club in conjunction with the overarching District 9810 which covers a large portion of Melbourne’s south east extending from Templestowe to Upper Yarra, to Chelsea to Beaumaris.

Stephen explained to the Rotary meeting that Cire Community School focuses on each student as an individual with unique needs; it’s a school of choice for young people who need a positive alternative to mainstream education.

Elise, who has missed many years of formal schooling, explained that Cire understood that challenging behaviour is a reflection of a student’s mental health and wellbeing rather than a desire to ‘act out’.

Elise impressed Rotarians with her maturity and candour and the way she articulated her story, and her determination to pursue a career in social work, drawing on her lived-experience and the challenges she has overcome at such an early age.

In his address at the recent annual changeover function, newly inducted president Ben Vallence emphasised the importance of contributing and giving back to community.

“Giving of yourself is the ultimate gift you can make to another and it’s only through volunteer organisations like Rotary where your giving can have such life changing impact.”

The father of two, he hoped that he and his wife Bridget MP, State Member for Evelyn, were leading by example for their sons with their community involvements:

“To my two beautiful boys, Rory and Emanuel. I know that Rotary might not be the coolest thing in the world for you two, but I want to thank you for your love and support of me undertaking this role. Boys, I know you may not appreciate it now, but I think you know how much your Mum and Dad have tried to set an example of giving back to your community and helping those who most need it.”

In his address, Ben commended Paul Martin, supported by his wife Trish, on his leadership during such a challenging and unprecedented term as president.

“This year’s Rotary message is to ‘Serve to Change Lives’. This message personifies the spirit of our club. Even with all the restrictions and lockdowns that the pandemic brought, our club stayed strong in helping so many in the community,” Ben said.

In 2020, the club:

  • provided more than $3,000 worth of meals as part of a Second Bite program at Wandin for those in need. Warratina Lavender Farm, owned by Rotarian Peter Manders and his wife Annemarie, donated $1500.
  • donated $2,000 to a family whose Wandin home was razed by fire.
  • funded local children to attend Rotary’s Camp Awakenings, and a further six to attend their own school camps and may have otherwise missed out because their families were experiencing financial hardship.
  • provided three children from Woori Yallock with new scooters, to help them get to school and also provide some much needed respite from COVID lockdown and restrictions.
  • delivered books to more than local 400 students as part of the Books in School program.
  • delivered 1,000 bags of apples to local students, donated by Old Oak Orchards, owned by Rotarian Gavan Corbett’s family.
  • Awarded a $2000 scholarship shared by four students at Cire Community School.

Ben said delivering the apples were a highlight for him: “My son Emanuel came running to the car with an apple in one hand yelling, ‘Dad look what Rotary gave us’.

Wandin Rotary welcomes new members. Anyone interested in club membership are invited to contact club president Ben Vallence at

Pictured: Newly inducted president of Wandin Rotary, Ben Vallence, and his wife Bridget and their sons Rory, 13 and Emanuel, 10.

Click here for further information on Cire Community School and education programs.