Series of Portraits | People of Melbourne.



For those who have missed the part I, it's here and part II is hereAs promised, here's part III of the OZ trip, dedicated to Melbourne. It is a pretty long post I have to say, but if you have patience, read on friends ! Coz I have met some amazing people.

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One of the highlights of my Australian trip is definitely the city of Melbourne. This city struck me by its amazing diversity. It’s one of those cities where you definitely can’t judge a book by its cover. Everyone is different, everyone has his own style, his own story to tell, a unique background, etc. And you surely won't be able to tell what the person's occupation is by the way he/she looks.


It’s a vibrant city, artistically speaking, it might be the place to be; very inspiring, innovative, cultural mix, old and new can share the same space without it being aesthetically disturbing; it also has this European touch to it with some small alleys and little cafés, some very nice arcades like the ones you can find in Paris.


Royal Arcade on Bourke street


 A lot of street art, fell in love with Hosier Lane, here's a glimpse of it :




Anyways, you got it, I REALLY loved this city where unfortunately, I only stayed 4 days . So on the last day of my stay, I felt I couldn’t leave this city without grabbing a photographic witness of its great vibes. So I decided to go on the streets with my camera, talked to people, asked to share a little bit of their story with me and if I could take their portrait. To my great surprise, NONE of the people I asked refused.
I asked them these three questions: 
What’s your occupation / What do you like about Melbourne / What’s your biggest dream ?
Here are the amazing people I met on that day :

Peter was the first person I talked to for this series of portraits. Because with his own unique look: this big ginger beard and tattooed arms, I was pretty sure that he would have an interesting story to tell. And I wasn’t wrong, he is the typical example of the “can’t judge a book by its cover”-people that Melbourne can offer.

Occupation
: Former cook, now Chaplaincy for the Protestant Church of Melbourne
4 days a week, Peter is working on the streets of Melbourne, with homeless and whoever would need help or just an ear to talk to. (If you ever want to meet him, he’s on Bourke Street every Thursdays). “Everyone has a story to tell” Peter said and most of the time, “our prejudices shape us and the way we interact with others.” Peter wishes that people could realize that we’re all from the same family: the human family; that no one can live in isolation but can only survive through a community. Community doesn’t mean sharing the same religion, community means that “we care for our neighbours like we care for ourselves, as Jesus asked – because can you say that you don’t love your neighbors but love God??” Wise question Peter...

About Melbourne
: “I love Melbourne for its warmth, for the friendliness”

Biggest dream
: “I would like to inspire my grand children to grow up and care not only for others but for the entire creation. To look after the planet we’ve been given because it’s not ours, we’re only takers and must take care of it”





I heard a nice bluesy-jazzy raw voice from the other side of the street and loved it so I crossed to see who was singing. It was John. Feathered hat, small round black shades, and a voice with some notes of Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen. His cover of “Secret Heart” by Feist blew me away.

In between two songs, I just time to chat for 5 mins with him.

Occupation : Singer/Songwriter. Been working in the Australian music industry for nearly 40 years now.
  
Biggest dream : “It’s now kinda impossible but I was close, I always dreamt to play with Miles Davis”



Gary, the Frenchie :) 


For those who know me a little, you might know that I’m a little really obsessed with Caramel Beurre Salé (Salted butter Caramel). So when I saw this little kiosque selling French Crêpes with Salted Caramel then I couldn’t NOT stop. That’s when I met Gary. 26 year-old French man, from Bordeaux. He used to be a croupier in Casinos and decided to travel to Australia under a Working Holiday Visa, just to discover something different, to break the routine. He never really travelled far, so that was the further he could go. He’s been in Melbourne for almost three months now after having visited Fraser Island and the Whit Sundays

About Melbourne : “Open minded-people, cultural events all the time, I never get bored here, it’s very easy to meet new people.”

Biggest dream : “Ermm… be Rich ! No, actually I don’t really know, I just take one day at a time”





In Melbourne, every corner of each street will have something going on. So as I was walking down Bourke Street, I heard this pretty amazing classical music played on the piano, I couldn’t help but walk back up the whole street to see who was playing this. And then again, all I was expecting that is someone pretty mid-aged with a classical look was washed away by this “cant’ judge a book by its cover type of person”. Gareth was here, playing his amazing music, wearing his basic hoody with his ginger hair and earpieces that were probably bigger than any of mine. Nonetheless, the rest of the street was just like me : mesmerized by Gareth’s talent. There was something special about the vibrations of his pieces, something only music can bring, this magical thing that brings everyone on the same level of understanding, the universal language everyone can hear and understand: there were locals, there were tourists, there were a group of  ear-impaired kids, none of us was left indifferent by Gareth’s music. In less than 15mins, the street was filled with magic and Gareth’s hat with more money than it could contain. When Gareth took his break, I went to talk to him and ask him what was his motivations to play on the streets of Melbourne. He told me he came to Australia from Wales and stayed here because he fell in love but the story didn’t work out; however he really want to stay in this amazing city and also go back to studies because “Education is Key”; for that he needs 8,000AU$ per semester ! That sounded amazing to me, but looking at how fast people connected, paid for his music and album, I’m pretty sure he will reach his goal.
If you want to hear his music, head to his website

About Melbourne : Accessible city with so much diversity

Biggest dream: “I’d like people to hear my music and be touched by it. If it could be used for movies or ads, that would be awesome”
 


Shea and his friend Tania were just having lunch on the grass, with Shea's son : Blythe - the amazing kid I'm talking about just below. Don't ask me why, but I was drawn to them. I felt that those three were sensitive and kind souls. I wasn't wrong. Despite a standout style that made them look charismatic to my eyes (just like so many people in Melbourne though), both were pretty quiet and shy kind of persons. 

Shea is 28 year-old, father of Blythe, an amazing 6 year-old boy (see below). 

Occupation : Artist. 
Shea didn't talk much about what he is doing, just said he was into many stuff like photography, drawings etc then back home I did a little research and found more about his work through his son's website (yes, the 6 year-old Blythe has his own website...yes, he's pretty amazing, read on, you'll see..)
This is how Shea describes his work "Using the the most basic of tools - a humble two dollar 0.5mm mechanical pencil, an eraser or two and some paper. Grandpa Shea creates emotive dark detailed imagery." His work is really cool, the details he can create with his pencil are pretty awesome, visit his website to find out more. Some of his photography work is here.

About Melbourne : "I love this city for the arts scene"

Biggest dream:  Shea simply replied : "To be healthy and Happy". And I quite like this answer :)

Tania, 23 year old. From Indonesia, but has traveled a lot from country to country with her family.

Occupation : Currently studying but not passionate about her studies. She would like to do more artistic stuff like music.

Biggest dream : To travel more, see other cultures, live with the locals , eat their food, dance with them



Well, you must have understood from above, I kinda fell in love with this lil boy. He is a one-of-kind special kid. 
Blythe is 6 and when I asked him what was his occupation, he replied " I'm an artist !". So I was like, "Oh great! what do you do ??". He said : "I draw, I take photos, I do sculptures, I do websites...I'm also a dancer". So like any stupid adults would, I thought to myself  "Oh how cute is this kid, dreaming about being so many things at the same time..." that's when Blythe went into his bag and pulled out a stack of BUSINESS CARDS and handed me one. Then he said "they're all unique because each one has a unqiue drawing at the back"... OK just that, would have sufficed for me to love him and find him utterly clever and cute. That was before I checked his website (www.blythehamlinkirk.com). This kid just blows me away by his creativity, confidence and uniqueness at 6. Go check out, and let me know what you think !

Biggest dream : "explore the world !" ... I mean, how can you not love the kid !!



I couldn't end this amazing day in a better way. I went to an Italian Restaurant (very good by the way. Olio Cucina e trattoria on Block Place), was greeted by this excessively Italian-mannered waiter : Sam ! Turned out that Sam isn't Italian at all, but his Italian façade works really well with the place.
Like any good Italian man would ask, Sam asked what a "beautiful lady" was doing in Melbourne and was my occupation. I said I was a French photographer on holiday in Australia. He then looked at me and said " We were meant to meet ! Wait, I will tell you my story" he then went to serve other customers and came back and told me his story while I was eating. And it goes like this :

Sam is from Lebanon which he left when he was 15 during the war. One day, back in Lebanon, he found in his street a camera bag that probably belonged to a photojournalist who got killed during an assault. He took the bag that contained cameras and thousands of rolls of film. Since then he fell in love with photography, he has at least 35 000 digital photos stored! Some on his phone, on which he showed me beautiful pictures of his wife and kids. As for the bag, he kept it for 35 years and now and then, he still scan some films on his Epson scanner to see some pictures. Bringing back memories of his dear Lebanon and of course crazy moments of war...
So yes, I guess we were meant to meet Sam. It's Mektoub ! ;)

Biggest dream : "Contribute to the Australian society to pay back what they've given me ever since I came from Lebanon"

So this is how my last day in Melbourne was spent, and I must say that this was the most enriching day I ever spent. Thank you Peter, John, Gareth, Gary, Shea, Tania, Blythe and Sam for having taken a bit of your time to talk to a complete stranger who asked you if she could take your portrait ! You made my day and remain one of my highlights on this trip. I hope you're all well and that life is treating you well wherever you are now.

Peace,

Cx