A physical place can be as small as somewhere you put your favourite book or as large as the Pacific Ocean. Place can be somewhere you visit in your dreams or imaginations. It can be whatever you want it to be.
I believe relationships with places are as important as relationships with people. For more than 10 years I have explored the notions of place within my photography, almost exclusively void of the presence of people. In my final year of studying Photography at the University of Plymouth I made work around the idea of ‘Topophilia’ which can be described as ‘love of place’. I used a 10x8” large format camera to capture images with incredible detail and depth. Using this camera really slowed down my image making and made me pursue a much more considered approach.
For six or so years I resided on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, and made the place my home. The Gold Coast draws people in from all over the world with its incredible climate and miles of pristine sandy beaches. Some may say it is where you can have a dream lifestyle.
As I prepared to leave the Gold Coast for an unknown period, potentially not making it my home again, I wanted to document my time there with my usual style of landscape pictures. Whilst struggling to think about how the landscape shaped my time there, I realised it was people that made the Gold Coast special to me. Close friendships are incredibly important when settling into a new place on the other side of the world. Without them, there is a high chance I wouldn’t have lived there for as long as I did.
It was this simple, potentially obvious fact that made me decide to make portraits of nine close friends on my Intrepid 10x8” camera. I met most of these people within the first couple of months of my time on the Coast. They were the kind of people that made me change my initial six-month plans into something more permanent. They were the kind of friends you can laugh with for hours or call in the middle of the night if you needed to share something. For all of them though, the Gold Coast was a special place in one way or another.
Asking them to choose a spot that meant the most to them, over my last few weeks on the Coast, we went out, one-by-one, to take a portrait and share a moment.
Charlie Jay: 'People Shape Places'
Jimmy, perched next to his faithful Troopie as the sun rose in Northern NSW. F8 1/3 at 1/8. Portra 400
Nick (Naw), standing at Miami Basketball Courts with his favourite 35mm camera at the ready. F11 at 1/125. Portra 400
Dan, sat in front of his pad in Mermaid Beach, beer in hand after checking the surf. F8 at 1/125. Portra 400
Paul (Balfey), standing at Tallebudgera Creek as the sun rose, ready for his morning coffee. F5.6 1/3 at 1/30. Portra 400
Justin (Juice), perched on the bench at the end of Alfred Street, Mermaid Beach. F22 at 1/125. Portra 400
Tommy, sat at the bottom of his fathers driveway, Tallebudgera Valley. F5.6 2/3 at 1/60. Portra 400
Trent (TM), standing on the path to his happy place, the ocean, Bilinga. F8 at 1/60. Portra 400
Nate (Thompo), perched high above North Burleigh headland as the sun set. F5.6 2/3 at 1/125. Portra 400
Lou, leaning against the rock wall at 21st Avenue, Palm Beach, where we first met. F8 at 1/60. Portra 400