When I decided on 'classic' Melbourne as the theme for my 2017 calendar, the challenge was never going to be finding subjects. Melbourne is brim full of classic buildings, sites and events.
The bigger challenge, as with any photographic assignment, was always going to be to find a different way to represent my 'subjects', most of which have been photographed hundreds of thousands of times.
The famous water wall at NGV International is a case in point. The 'standard' shot of the wall involves having a child standing close to the wall with their hand in the water. A variation on that theme is to take the picture from inside the gallery looking out, the person against the wall appearing as a silhouette.
I decided to have a look at the wall fairly early in the morning, before the crowds arrived. The first thing that struck me when I arrived was how the morning sun created an 'arch within the arch' against the water. I also loved the way the trees on St Kilda Rd cast interesting shadows on to the paving in front of the gallery. I'm always looking for contrast in my black-and-white pictures so that was perfect.
All good, except that I didn't have the place to myself as I had planned. There was another photographer on the scene taking video of a group of girls doing various dance moves.
At first I thought this group might be the people I'm always looking for to add to my image. However to get them in, along with the arch, meant going back onto the St Kilda Rd median strip, which in turn added a tree to the foreground and a bit of an advertising poster to the wall. As it turned out, that wasn't a bad option, and the picture here was an early candidate for 'the' shot.
But it wasn't the picture I had in my head. After the dancers and their photographer left, I moved closer to isolate the arch of the gallery's entrance. I love the way the light was working, and I thought that if someone would walk across the scene on the inside of the building, hopefully in a light coloured top, I would get my 'person' nicely distorted through the water. Surely there was someone inside setting up for the day?
And so I waited. And waited. I watched the time disappear as I only had 15 minutes before I would have to move on to my next appointment. But no one would oblige by walking across the scene.
I was just about to pack up and go, thinking I'd get by with the 'dancers' shot, when who should arrive on the scene but a window cleaner. Bingo! He was perfect. The sun lit him up nicely, and of course as he worked his way across the glass he made numerous wide, sweeping moves with his squeegee. I got my picture.
I'm not the most patient photographer – far from it. I have great admiration for wildlife photographers who'll wait hours for the right moment. But there are times when just a little bit of patience, and staying for just a few moments longer, can help you get the picture you were hoping for.