Something a little bit different from me this time around. Not going to interview anyone. Not going to review any gear. Just going to talk about what was an epic day. A day, for me and I am sure my fellow participants, that was all about community, friendship and of course photography. What more could you want? Oh yes, there was plenty of fine coffee. And of course, a day spent in Melbourne always includes amazing food. And the weather turned out to be not too bad after a drizzly start. So let me tell you all about the most recent Fuji X Aus Melbourne photo walk.
On Saturday, the Fuji X Aus Admin team, met in South Melbourne for what could be considered the inaugural administration team meet up. Our AGM. Most of the admin team are based in Melbourne – Joe, Ian, Antonio, Natalia and myself. Then we have Gustavo in Perth and Charlie in Sydney. So usually our meetings are conducted via chat or video conference. But on this occasion, both Gus and Charlie flew into Melbourne bright and early to spend the day with us. We converged on St.Ali. An amazing coffee house in the back-streets of South Melbourne. Over breakfast, we discussed a great many things about the Fuji X Aus community. We discussed its history and considerable growth from the early days when Joe and Antonio first created the group. We also covered our outlook for 2019. Events, workshops, member benefits, discounts and our relationship with outside organisations such as Fujifilm and retailers. In essence, we created a roadmap for the future of our community.
Once the business was done, we all headed into Melbourne for a photo walk that had been posted as an event on the Fuji X Aus page. Our meeting point was at Federation Square. We were thrilled to have been joined by many Melbourne members of our community. Familiar faces appeared as well as a few new ones. Greetings were made and exchanged. From there Joe led us on a walk with our first stop being Hosier Lane. If you are unaware, Hosier Lane is an iconic Melbourne laneway that runs North to South in the middle of the CBD. The laneway itself only gives access to one or two stores and cafes and also has another alley leading off from it. What makes Hosier Lane so iconic is the amount and scale of the street art on its walls. Giant murals rise to the rooftops and from time to time you will be able to watch an artist do his or her thing. It is very popular with tourists so can become packed on the weekends. Well worth a look especially for those looking for a great background for street photography.
Next, we cut across town via Flinders Lane to another iconic Melbourne location – Centre Place. This is a small strip of cafes, restaurants and shops. The laneway is tight as many of the eating places have small tables that line the tiny footpaths. There is a dark, grungy, aged feeling about Centre Place and you feel like you are boxed in by the canyoning buildings on either side. But it also has a quality unlike any other part of Melbourne. Once again, this is a fantastic location for street photography and those of us on the photo walk spent some time here taking shots. From here we cut across Collins Street and into the building of 260 Collins. We actually stumbled across the brand new Leica store. Feeling dirty from that experience, we made our way upstairs to the food court level for a quick lunch and refreshment break.
Moving on we cut through Union Lane to the Bourke Street Mall. Union Lane is another interesting photography spot as it is a long tight laneway with tall walls covered in graffiti and street art. It is not uncommon to see any number of artists spaying away. Given the time of year, Bourke Street Mall was very busy with Christmas shoppers and tourists. Speaking of shopping…our next stop was the infamous Melbourne DigiDirect store. Keep in mind that DigiDirect in Melbourne is quite a small store and given that they were in the middle of the sale season, they were quite busy. That, of course, did not deter Joe from leading a small force of Fuji X Aus members into the store. It wasn’t long before we were ready to move on and I noticed a number of members coming out of the store with tell-tale orange DigiDirect bags. There were some exceptional bargains.
Next, we moved south along Elizabeth Street and cut through the Flinders Street Station underpass to emerge next to the Yarra River. This is a great part of Melbourne with riverside restaurants and bars on the northern bank. We crossed the river via the Evan Walker Bridge and then made our way East along the Yarra River and Southbank Promenade. This area is really lively and again being the weekend was busy with tourists and locals alike. Once we met the Princess Bridge, adjacent to our starting point at Federation Square, we made our way up from the river and across the Beer Deluxe – a familiar and popular bar within Federation Square. The day had grown a little warmer and we were all ready for some refreshments after our long walk.
During the photo walk, there were lots of discussions going on. I could hear people quizzing Gus and Charlie on their experiences in Perth and Sydney. I heard people getting to know one another. And of course, there was the ever-present gear-talk. People were carrying a broad range of Fujifilm gear. And this naturally generates discussion about what a particular lens is like to use, or if an upgrade is worth it or how you find a certain camera body. I love this part of our community. There is so much experience and knowledge but equally a thirst in others to grow their own knowledge of photography. And, as on this occasion, everyone was willing and happy to be a part of that exchange. It was really rewarding to see.
The day was getting on. A short tram ride and walk from Federation Square and we found ourselves back up on Elizabeth Street. It was dinner time and some of the participants in our photo walk remained with the admin team. We arrived at G2 Korean BBQ and this was another fantastic opportunity to get to know one another over an amazing meal of meats cooking at our table. It was such an incredible meal and the perfect way to end our full day of Fuji X Aus events. It had been a long day but it was worth every minute. I got to meet new people and get to know them as well as catching up with old friends. And of course, it was great for me to finally meet Charlie and Gus who, along with the other admins, do an amazing job of making our community such a strong, open and friendly one. Thanks to everyone who participated in the day. Happy shooting.