I’m currently going through my archives and see what is there. I spent all yesterday scanning selected negatives from this series. This picture of the two children at 78 Gibson St was a part of the Bowden series, which was done in the 1980s. I haven’t seen this photo since I made the contact sheet in the wet darkroom in the 1980s.
The photograph’s genre would be seen as street photography today, as it resulted from an unmediated chance encounter and a random incident within a public place. I was just strolling along the street from the studio, aimless wandering, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency.
The picture was made with an old Rolleiflex TLR camera, which I used as my carry around camera, when walking around Adelaide’s suburb of Bowden Brompton that I then lived and worked in.
I was a flaneur of sorts–an urban explorer of this industrial, working class inner suburb of Adelaide. The street photographer can seen as one modern extension of the 19th century urban observer before the advent of the hand-held camera. Susan Sontag in On Photography says that the hand held camera has become the tool of the flâneur:
The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world “picturesque.”
Bowden was not picturesque. It was industrial. The working class had long gone from living there. They came to work in the the factories that were left. Bowden had become a place where those living on the margins of society hung on–ie., survived.