I first met John Francis Carroll when he was busking at the Queen Victoria Market in North Melbourne last year.
His guitar playing was superb and I sat on a bench nearby for quite some time (lost in his music). I approached him during a break in his playing and asked if he minded me making some photos of him as he played and if it would be ok to share them online. I can’t remember that I did share them online at the time, but I certainly emailed him several images a few days later and said he could use them in any way he wished. I bought a couple of his CDs – Salmon Tails Up The Water (Celtic music, of which I am a big fan) and Musica Dalla Corsia (an even better collection of his talents) which I have listened to many times and thoroughly enjoyed.
He plays guitar, harmonium, bodhran, keyboard and Mandolin.
You can imagine my surprise and delight to get an email from him last week saying he loved one of the images so much, he’d used it on the back cover of his latest CD; Blues Instrumentals (of which I received several copies in the mail today but haven’t had a chance to play the CD yet, having been in the city half the afternoon for an appointment and some street photography).
As an amateur photographer, I must admit I get a thrill when anyone uses one of my images and credits me as the Photographer.
John plays at various venues in and around Melbourne, together with some function & festival work. He may be contacted on his website.
Keep any eye out for him if you’re a Melburnian – he’s well worth listening to.
It’s rare that I can’t think of a suitable title for a blog post, but Sunday in the City (of Melbourne) left me speechless and with more than a tear in my eye.
I’d been looking forward to my first visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens in about 18 months to do some bird photography.
After getting off the bus in the city centre, I walked down the main north/south street to the tram stop to find notice that there were tram disruptions and delays, so after waiting about 20 minutes, I decided to called the whole photography nature walk off and do a quick walk around the block in search of some street photography.
I had been through the new up-market shopping arcade linking Collins street to Little Collins street before and been quite amazed by the mirrored columns, ceilings and undersides of the escalators. The whole experience is like walking through some distorted hall of mirrors at a fun fair – quite surreal and definitely a unique experience. Many of the high-end ground floor shops are still untenanted.
You need real money to shop here.
The central atrium is filled with a modern ‘chandelier’ of hanging green/aqua light tubes. Both a work of art as well as lighting.
The previous arcade was very beautiful in itself and for the life of me, I can’t think why the current mind-blowing multi-million dollar display of vulgarity, which took 2 years to create, was ever passed by Melbourne City Council (or the town planning department).
I find it offensive. It’s a slap in the face of the homeless. It represents the extreme waste of money that really turns my stomach.
It’s one of modern western societies contradictions……….
(note: the slide show below was mostly made by looking straight up above me, except for one photo which shows a shopper riding an escalator).
When you leave this arcade and walk up to the main north/south thoroughfare linking the northern suburbs to the southern outbound highway (which runs along the west side of the Royal Botanic Gardens), you are confronted by the Bedrooms of the Homeless. Obviously during the winter, when night temperatures can drop to the low single digits, its warmer for the homeless to shift from their summer shelters along the river to the warmer inner streets of Melbourne.
After seeing the 5th makeshift shelter, where the occupant(s) was/were still fast asleep, I saw the 6th Bedroom looming up on the footpath and decided to make a photo.
I didn’t want to invade the occupant’s privacy so made the image from some distance away. An open umbrella was creating a wind break. Possessions and used food containers created a fence surrounding the homeless person and at this stage I was moved to tears.
This was the Home……… of a Homeless person.
I really don’t understand the wave of new multi-million dollar high-rise apartment blocks. Many are for the wave of Asian students who now attend our highly regarded universities at the northern end of the city) and are justified. But there are others which are not.
With some 8,000 homeless in the inner suburbs (32,000 in the whole state) and over 88,000 empty houses, the figures just don’t add up.
Some of the homeless have mental disorders like Schizophrenia. I see many on my bus running along my route to the city centre. Some have addictions – drugs, alcohol, over-the-counter medications – you name it.
There are those who prefer to live in the open without the normal links to jobs, debt and modern trappings and they are homeless by choice.
Then there are the teenage runaways with the pallor of despair etched upon their gaunt young faces. I wonder what drove them from home? Abuse, violence or drugs? Or just plain dysfunctional family relationships which made their home life unbearable? Perhaps even bullying from peers?
Most are just plain……… homeless………with no jobs to pay for affordable rental accommodation and utilities (let alone food and clothing).
Homeless is a Lonely Place in Melbourn’s inner city shopping precinct
I saw this young homeless guy over a period of years. He went from making copies of drawings to being quite a skilled artist and earning enough to pay to have some of his cards printed (to sell on the streets).
Entrance to a dirty cellar which housed a radio, food cartons and a makeshift bed (up a back lane near the university).
Discarded begging box down a side alley.
……and then there are the travellers busking to make some money to advance their travel adventures. This Buddhist traveller was playing a variety of Nepalese singing bowls and from time to time, meditated or gave blessings to the passing shoppers. (the image below was made back in February 2013).
How does society justify multi-million dollar expenditure when a few hundred dollars would make all the difference to those living in poverty and homelessness.
Apart from Melbourne’s lane ways, there are an extraordinary number of gifted and highly creative Street Artists who display their craft in the inner suburbs.
Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, dates back to the early 1840s. Originally a working-class area of low rent and cheap shops, it is now home to many students, artists and bohemians.
I walked partway down one small section on the way to the supermarket in that area and made a few images of the Street Art (to share online) on the way.
(I must be the only person who carries a camera and lenses on the back of their shopping trolley to do food shopping 🙂 ).
Shop facades in Brunswick Street and surrounding side streets are usually unkempt and un-restored. Those buildings/shops that are painted, are often done with a ‘distressed‘ effect – I suppose there must be some kind of chemical which makes paint peel as it dries? Some of the shop signs are works of art in themselves and Street Art adorns almost every corner or main building. Even the 1st floor above the shops, which are residential, have the occasional window covered with a painted piece of art.
Even though I’m a Nature Lover at heart, I can’t help but be awed by these outdoor art galleries. Since I moved to the north-eastern side of inner Melbourne 12 months ago, my main bus route to the city centre leads me straight past many of these areas. One of these days, I’ll walk down the main road from the city through Carlton, Brunswick, Fitzroy and Collingwood (which are inner suburbs along the bus route) and photograph some more of this extraordinary Street Art.
NOTE: I have swapped from Canon DSLRs (getting too heavy for my worsening chronic back pain) to Sony a6000 mirror less (much, much smaller and lighter) yesterday, and the ‘weird’ menu configuration is not easy to navigate, so I hope you’ll be patient while I practice.
I’ve often seen this young homeless man making cards on the pavement outside the department store and felt deeply about his plight. He has a backpack and a few drawing pencils to use to make a few dollars. I know he doesn’t like his photo being taken, hence the back view in this image.
I see his tattered old backpack holding his meagre possessions.
I see his take-away drink containers lined up like bored sentries on guard duty.
I see a few coins scattered in his shoebox.
His pencils are few (and his paper sheets even fewer).
But he is proud and likes to make cards to sell, instead of plain sitting in motionless despair (begging for a few coins).
I don’t know where he sleeps at night…whether he is warm in winter, or hot on steamy summer days, but I do care about his well-being.
I DO think about him.
I wonder if the passers-by see his plight OR walk around him intent on their shopping spree?
I’m a great lover of the mundane, (or ordinary), moments I see in Melbourne’s CBD. Somehow, capturing a small space, or person/people going about their everyday lives, in a photo, seems so much more than the sum of the whole street scene before my naked eye. The following 2 photos are of the same little café, but I couldn’t decide which image I liked best. Both look a little soft in focus as I had the shutter speed far too slow for a hand-held shot in the dimly lit arcade. I can’t normally hold the camera still below a shutter speed of about 1/40. The images below were at 1/8.
I love the stillness of the empty café with no human life visible. I love the soft light as Darkness falls. I love the suggestion that the day has ended and everyone has gone home to rest and recover from their activity.
In their own little space.
Feeding their Body.
Calming their Mind.
Replenishing their Soul.
I cannot imagine the internal workings of people who live at a frenetic pace 24/7. If I didn’t have time to Think – sit in Silent Contemplation, or listen to the Wind outside my window, I wouldn’t feel fulfilled or content.
Not many people seem to be comfortable with their own company these days. They are always ‘plugged in’ to a piece of modern technology that ‘talks’ and ‘entertains’ them. Well, in the inner city, anyway.
I’m in the middle of reading Freeman Patterson’s book Photography and the Art of Seeing.
Freeman Patterson writes about Thinking Sideways and Breaking the Rules AND “Chance”. “Give many happy accidents a chance to happen”. So I did!
But it wasn’t until towards the end of this afternoon, just before I left Union Lane in the city centre to go home, that this image suddenly appeared before me and I had to share it with you. I must admit I hit the shutter button pretty quickly and didn’t bother to check the camera settings (or where the focal points were aiming).
I wondered who the legs belonged to and why this young female was standing behind a half-closed roller door in a dark dingy freight loading bay with her teddy bear, baring a generous length of slim shapely legs.
And to give you an idea of where she was standing, here’s an image I made on Monday of the same freight delivery entrance and roller door – this time the roller door was completely open and there were NO legs anywhere to be seen 😀
My theory………..she was making an illicit transaction………. as I could hear a faint male voice nearby. After a few minutes the roller door went right down to the ground and I decided to head for home, none the wiser as to whom the legs belonged to.
I have a few other interesting images to share, but I’d better check them tomorrow morning in the light of day to check their exposure and contrast, as I was shooting with my 50mm f1.4 lens most of the afternoon and “broke a few rules” (as Freeman Patterson puts it).