Melbourne is well known for its many lanes and alleyways, and some of those lanes are famous because they have become the preferred places for graffitists to exhibit their art. Of all Melbourne’s lanes the best known is Hosier Lane. It became an informal graffiti “gallery” in the late 1990s and since then has become a popular destination for tourists, art classes and curious sightseers. The works exhibited include spray-painted murals, stencils and installations.
I try to visit Melbourne once or twice a year and always visit Hosier Lane to photograph the works but, more importantly for me, to photograph the Lane’s visitors and its photographers.
Covid restrictions have prevented me visiting since 2019 so I have taken the opportunity to sort five year’s worth of photographs and make this small set showing Some People in Hosier Lane.
These are some of those photographs and are in no particular order but among them you may notice:
- A young woman who is very happy with her result,
- A graffitist at his work,
- A school group with their teacher on an educational visit,
- A graffitist (?) about to throw a spray can. We wonder why,
- A young Asian couple both amazed and baffled by the display,
- A documentary film team wondering what to do next, and
- Many of visitors doing what you do in Hosier Lane: taking photographs.
When doing a project like this you realise very quickly that, being in a location where everyone else is also photographing (be it with a mobile phone, a simple digital or a professional standard DSLR), no one takes much notice of any other person doing the same thing. You may easily take a photograph while standing quite close to the subject without them noticing or objecting. Bear in mind that, in Australia at least, photographing a stranger in a public place is permitted.
Even so, I prefer to use a longer lens and a wide aperture to achieve a lot of out-of-focus detail as a lead-in to the subject.
Because of the conditions (it is a narrow alley with very subdued lighting) you must be prepared to sacrifice some image quality in order to gain a lot in terms of human-interest photographs.
I am hoping that this project will be an on-going one for me, not only in Hosier Lane but in other Melbourne lanes. I look forward to returning when Covid travel restrictions are relaxed.
It is a source of personal pride that one of these photographs, the group of school girls wearing red jackets, has recently been acquired by the State Library of Victoria to add to their permanent photograph collection.