“Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” Imogen Cunningham 1883 – 1976
“I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.” Ellen Von Unwerth 1954
South | An Australian Journal
Taking in the sights at Kent St. Café, Smith Street
photo: Shirin Laghai 13.04.11
Big country in one short sharp month…
In the months of March & April 2011 I took a trip to Australia for the first time in my life. The largest portion of my family is resident there and having lived in Greece for the last eighteen years; as well as the simple fact that my hugely extended and ever growing family is a veritable self-contained diaspora living on every continent on the planet; meant that I had not seen the large array of cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles, for years. Then there were all the new additions. The innumerable marriages and births meant that there were simply a horde of family members whom I needed to reconnect with or get to know from scratch. My original intent as a photographer was to travel to as many places as I could in that continent and photographically document my journey. But landing in Melbourne, I felt my original plans vaporise and be replaced by something entirely more personal.
I photographed the streets for the first few days, so alien and yet so familiar. Mainly my concentration fell on Smith Street, in the Fitzroy area of Melbourne. The area is known as the bohemian heart of hip and trendy Melbourne. It is a massive collection of all kinds of types. Young designers, photographers, artists, retro fashion shops, environmentally friendly food shops selling vegetarian, vegan and humane, organically grown meats, from every corner of the world. The one spot in all the places I visited on this trip that could honestly lay claim to being a melting pot.
The thrum and lively dynamism of Smith Street aside, the city of Melbourne gave me a strong impression of a place I would love to live in for the rest of my life.
In stark contrast, Perth proved itself a stereotype, the very image of Australia and Aussies held by people the world over. A sprawling, clean, antiseptic collection of vast suburbs, bible belt morality, blonde hair and tanned muscled bodies… Difficult to work up a great deal of visual enthusiasm for.
Adelaide fell somewhere in between the two. Something of the old world British colonial feel, a small well preserved centre, surrounded by suburban comfort and genteel living; that was the strongest impression I carried away with me.
Vishy Moghan, June 2011