A reminiscence, from a while ago…
In mid-1992, the City of Melbourne organized the ‘Our Melbourne’ community photography project as part of the city’s 150th birthday celebrations. It was open to all residents, including professional photographers, and required two 35mm film slides and a paragraph on what we liked about that part of Melbourne where we took the photos. Before deciding to enter, I was not sure whether I really had any “creative spark” left with my photography as I had not used my camera for some ten years, apart from attending a 2-day Council of Adult Education workshop in late ’91 (I wasn’t pleased with my work during that course). Could I still “produce the goods” that I’d be happy with?
However, I had been getting strong “urges” since early ’92 to pick up my camera again to help me renew some inspiration and a sense of wonder, which I needed to do, desperately, as my life then had become quite mundane and boring (not a good situation to be in when one is a creative person). I saw the advertisement in The Age for this project. My intuition said Yes straight away and I knew instantly what I’d be photographing – trains, and people on trains, as I love train travel. So I decided to go for it – it wasn’t going to cost me anything – free slide film and processing – just my time and input. I sent in my application and waited. Only 600 rolls of film were available, for all of Melbourne! Well…eventually I received the film and guidelines. Wow – what synchronicity! What a good omen! In the meantime, I had worked out my plan of action and content of the shoot, using natural light only. I made arrangements with The Met to go on a few trips in with the train driver (to show the driver’s view), and also to photograph around Flinders St. station. They were very supportive of my endeavours when they knew what it was for.
Of the more than 1,200 slides sent in (everyone sent in two), one of mine was chosen to be printed and framed as an 8×10 inch colour picture and went on exhibition for the month of Oct’92 in the Lower Melbourne Town Hall. Only 126 were printed/framed in varying sizes. Others had been chosen to be part of a dynamic slideshow as part of the exhibition. I was so pleased, as you can imagine! The image of mine that had been chosen by the six judges was the scene on a Flinders Street station platform, just as the train had arrived and people were disembarking. I took it on a slower shutter speed, to show people in blur and some in focus, moving and going along a down ramp to the underground exit tunnel and also moving away along the platform to other exits. One can see in the background the iconic dome we all associate with Flinders Street Station.
The piece I wrote, which was part of the framed photo on show, inadvertently came out as poetry. My aim was to give a sense of movement and affinity with fellow train travellers. It is as follows:
Trains moving people.
Trains moving people…into Melbourne, out of Melbourne.
Surging mass of humanity.
Daily ritual – morning, evening.
What a feeling!
I was told by one of the judges, Peter Hunter, whom I knew as I was a member of his then extant Minolta Camera Club, that a well-known Melbourne photographer called Ponch Hawkes had liked both of my slides – my sense of people and movement. This was great feedback!
As I had felt so positive about my participation, I wrote a letter to the City of Melbourne project’s co-ordinator, Vicki Jones, recommending a scaled-down version of the exhibition go on tour to regional centres of Victoria, as an influence for good about what we have and as a “lifter” to our down mood during that deep recession. I was told they were going to do so – it’s nice to know great minds think alike, I was really happy then.
Unfortunately, I no longer have a copy of the entered image to show you (lost as a result of computer malfunction – what do they say about backing up regularly…). But, if you’re really keen to see it, I’m sure the City of Melbourne would be happy to oblige. Here’s a recent image taken in the CBD using my lovely Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f1.8G lens on my D80…yes, I was breathing down their necks. The three of them are friends.