Since March 2019 I’ve been covering the Corona Virus crisis here in Melbourne Australia. If I look back the moment it felt like the impact of Covid-19 and its entrance into our lives started around the time of the Australian Grand Prix or more specifically the cancellation of it, any event I was covering up until it’s cancellation.
Since then I’ve documented the closure of businesses, empty streets that followed, innovations and people adapting to the new realities. With every new restriction added a new way of life needed to be introduced. Thankfully compared to the rest of the world the human toll and adverse health impact anticipated by Covid 19 never arrived. On the 15th of May, restrictions were eased in Melbourne.
As the the impact of the Corona Virus hits Melbourne and our lives change I’ll continue to document and archive the changes and update this Photo Essay, so stayed tuned.
The big multinational swallowing up the local watering hole is a common story all over the modern world, on February 29 in 2016, it was Sri Lanka’s turn. 141 years after its opening, the iconic Castle Hotel and Bar in Colombo, served last drinks.
The colonial building is believed to be over 200 years old and started its life as a printing press. When interviewed by Groundviews.org Hotel manager H.D. Mervyn Wickremesinghe believed the building became the castle hotel in 1875 which catered to international guests. In recent decades, the Castle has become the community bar to the local working-class in the area of Slave Island.
Of all the bars and pubs in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo there are few that match the character, history and working class realities of the emerging Sri Lanka than this iconic venue.
The colonial grand façade, imposing a Y-Shaped staircase at its foyer entrance, gives insight to the Castle Hotel’s ‘hey day’ which would have catered to foreign guests and troops during the World Wars.
Since then, the upkeep of the hotel has been in a decline and its character and charm representative of its predominantly working-class clientele. Loyal customers from snake charmers, tuk tuk drivers, low level office clerks and ironically, even the labourers working on the site that would eventually see the end of the bar, would be found having a drink at the Castle on most nights.
The future of the hotel has been uncertain after Indian multinational conglomerate ‘The Tata Group’ purchased the highly valuable land to develop modern offices and apartment complexes. There were talks the hotel would remain in its current form, however, it was always going to be a matter of time before the last drinks would be served.
Beers were cheap, arrack plentiful and short bites, spicy. The resident stray cat would hunt around for scraps on the floor. Like any good pub, stories were shared, grievances voiced and opinions were made known in the presence of complete strangers. Drunks, alcoholics and general louts would be ushered out with some decorum and respect, when they had one too many.
It recent years, this humble venue gained a reputation online as a ‘dodgy pub’ – though in my experience, you are more likely to find dodgier clientele and shady customers (for lack of better words) in the bars and clubs of Colombo’s 5-star hotels.
The Castle didn’t pretend to be something it wasn’t and it was, by far, more representative of Sri Lanka than the Westernised hotels down the road. Its guests were treated with respect and without the judgement they may experience outside.
As modern Sri Lanka rides the economic wave of a post-war economy, the consequence of gentrification emerges.
At the Castle hotel, what you saw was what you got, it was real and it was gritty, but it was honest.
Every year Australia’s leading magazine for Professional Photographers ‘Capture’ put out their annual edition.
The Annual showcases the best work across by Australian photographers across a number of genres.
This year i managed to get two shots included, one in the Documentary and the other in the Travel section.
Be sure to grab a copy either via the ipad edition or at your local newsagent. So top quality work by a lot of top Australian Photographers. http://www.capturemag.com.au
One of my photographs from the IDP camps in Sittwe was recently picked up for an article in Time.
Whilst getting a photo used by time is something i’m quite happy about, i’m glad that this story is starting to get a bit of traction.
What i witnessed in those camps i can only describe as state sponsored genocide.
This article and Al Jazeera’s expose proves this.
The last Olympics featured 204 nations competing in over 300 events over 19 days; the last Fifa world cup had 32 teams & went for 32 days.
The 2015 Cricket World Cup however, consists of only 14 teams and 49 matches yet it goes on for 49 days….6 weeks!!
To put that into perspective a Pre-Season AFL tournament started & finished during the World Cup.
Some Journalists even went on holiday during the World Cup & came back without missing much.
I still don’t see what justification there is for a major sporting event to go on for so long. As the tournament went on, column inches in the papers shrunk which reflected the interest of the event as a whole. The ICC would argue that this was the most viewed, ‘tweeted’, ‘instagrammed’ & ‘facebooked’ event in the history of the sport. The genius at the ICC who came up with that fact obviously chose to ignore that more people use social media since the last World Cup. It’s like saying “more people travel internationally since the launch of commercial aviation.”
I doubt there would be one person that would argue cricket needs such a long world cup. If the reasoning is logistics & player wellbeing I point to the FIFA world cup; an event which has more teams, more matches & players prone to more fatigue than cricketers, not to mention it’s a much bigger event, yet it goes on for just over 1 month.
How is one-day cricket supposed to sell itself to the masses when a 6 week tournament only has 3 ‘exciting’ matches? One of which featured two countries that are semi-professional at best.
My suggestions are simple; keep the tournament to 14 teams, have the tournament in one country only, ensure every team plays at least twice a week & keep the tournament under 1 month.
I ended up covering 9 matches between Melbourne, Sydney & New Zealand. It was an enjoyable World Cup from a photographer’s point of view; it was great to catch up with colleagues from all over the world, the cricket, whilst not exciting did provide some great images for most photographers. Below are a few of my own selects.
I only found out I was covering the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix three days out from the race. Covering my hometown race for the first time (finally) with little preparation I didn’t have much time to get acquainted with that F1 Paddock lifestyle, instead it was early morning starts & very late finishes.
Considering I’ve driven along the track hundreds of times, I still needed to re-familiarise myself with the track & figure the best angles to shoot from & where the sun would hit at certain times. My ‘Home ground advantage’ counted for little when the whole course is basically fenced like a birdcage.
Unashamedly I spent hours on Thursday night going through archives of Melbourne f1 photos, looking to see what works & what doesn’t. Even though Formula 1 isn’t a sport I specialise in I’m always looking at the work of f1 photographers as inspiration for my own work. Their composition & use of available light is unique when compared to most sports & a lot can be learnt from their work.
Below are a few of my selects from the weekend, now it’s back to covering this never ending Cricket World Cup.