Snapper’s milestone: Weekender photographer clicks up 15 years

Melinda Sanders on the job this week.
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They say a picture tells a thousand words, and for the last 15 years, that job has fallen into the hands of Melinda Sanders.

If you’ve worked on a story or put an advertisement in the Western Weekender, chances are you’ve met Sanders, whose photos have filled the paper’s pages since 2009.

But, she admits that she had no idea photography would turn into her career when she first picked up a camera.

“It’s been a long process,” she said.

“Originally, a friend wanted to do a course in photography, and then I enjoyed it, so I went on to do more studying. It was on and off for years, doing freelance work, and then I heard that [the Weekender] needed a photographer.”

Melinda Sanders.

Sanders was only supposed to be in the position for a short time, but after being asked to stay on, two weeks quickly became 15 years.

According to Sanders, who is often credited as Melinda Jane, there are plenty of aspects of the job that have kept her in it for such a long time.

“I like meeting lots of people – I’ve met a lot of people over the years, in Penrith,” she said.

“There’s also lots of variety. I’m not just sitting in an office, I’m going out in the community to different events and different places.”

Some of these events include the ARIA Awards, where she’s taken photos of bands like One Direction, and NRL Grand Finals.

Sanders has taken photos of just about everyone, from business owners to sports people and prime ministers, and has shot at many locations, including the army barracks, wildlife retreats, and plenty of restaurants.

“We took a journalist and got in the back of a police car one night,” she said.

“We followed the police around for a night to see what they do, and that was interesting.”

But, she said there have been plenty of difficult photos to take, too, including things like car accidents and fires where Sanders is often the first person from the Weekender on the scene.

“There’s been some sad stories over the years as well – it’s not all happy,” she said.

Nonetheless, Sanders has become a significant part of both the paper and the community over the years, with only the changes in familiar faces reminding her of just how long it’s been.

“When I met Albo years ago, I didn’t think he would become Prime Minister, and now he is. Prue Car has come a long way as well,” she said.

“It’s interesting over the years when you think back to when you first meet people. I get to build relationships with people over a long period of time.”

Sanders has also seen first-hand some significant changes in the broader community, and can’t wait to see what the future brings to Penrith.

“Penrith has changed a lot over the last 15 years, I’ve worn a lot of hard hats in that time,” she said.

“I’m excited to see what’s next.”

Cassidy Pearce

Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.

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