Melbourne Pictures
An Interview With Michael Blamey

Discover Melbourne pictures with Michael Blamey's photography. I live in England and Australia seems like a very far away place and it's lifestyle is completely alien to me. After all they get Sunshine on more than one day a year don't they?

Melbourne Pictures - Photo by Michael Blamey

Enough of the clichés, I have a fascination with all things Australian,perhaps it is because of the weather or perhaps its because distant relatives live there who I never knew existed until recently. Either way being able to see Images of daily life there definitely interests me.

So I was very happy to find Michael Blamey's daily blog as it showed me Melbourne pictures of daily life in a very vivid and intriguing way.

His photography explores many areas of the world but as Melbourne is currently his home town, this is one of his major influences.

I wanted to explore what inspired Michael to take his Melbourne pictures and perhaps in the process get an insight into his world and how he viewed photography as a whole. This interview was the result.

When did you first take up photography and what was it that first attracted you to it?

Like many people I've snapped away over the years but got really involved in the mid 1990s when I studied photography at Melbourne's Photographic studies College. I was interested in it as another (visual) language

Are there other photographers whose work or style you admire and if so who and why?

David Bailey for his simplicity and elegance. Andre Kertesz for his composition and Henri Cartier Bresson for his timing

What camera equipment do you use?

Melbourne Pictures - Photo by Michael Blamey

Canon D5, I mainly use a 24-105mm f4 Canon lens and sometimes a 70-200mm f2.8. I rarely use flash or a tripod. I carry a camera all the time – either my Canon in a small Domke shoulder bag or my pocket Leica D Lux 3. I shoot RAW images and manage the files with Adobe Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 (I use Picasa and Picasa Web Album to manage my blogs). I have an Epson scanner for the film I have shot.

You live in Melbourne, Australia. Could you tell us a little about this area of the world and how it inspires your work? I.e. do you have a specific approach to how you want your Melbourne pictures to depict your environment through your images?

Yes I live in Melbourne now. I lived here as a child but then left and lived in other places in Australia and other parts of the world until recently.

Melbourne Pictures - Photo by Michael Blamey

So Melbourne is familiar but also a curiosity for me. It has the significance of home but in many ways is remote from my life experience. I think this helps me see it the way I do.

I started publishing daily photos on the web when I was living in Port Vila, Vanuatu really as a way of showing friends and relatives a little of daily life in what the travel brochures describe and represent as a "tropical paradise". Of course this representation is mythical. Many of my photos were about this.

There was a good deal of interest in the site from potential visitors and from people who had lived and worked in Vanuatu in the past.

I thought there might be a similar interest in Melbourne - and its proved so - many Australians work overseas and they like to see what's going on in Melbourne through eyes which are not the "News" or the "Australian Tourist Commission".

I notice you have published three photographic books, "Melbourne Today", The Rossi Restaurant" and " St Kilda Today". Can you tell us a little about each of these?

While I do what I do with photographs and to a large extent it's a personal and solitary pursuit with its own rewards, public exposure of work engages in other ways .

Melbourne Pictures - Photo by Michael Blamey

I have had a couple of exhibitions in Melbourne but I am finding the feedback and exposure from the web and books is more interesting. Also people want to buy images and books work well for this. They are books of my work in Melbourne and St Kilda.

The Rossi Restaurant book arose out of me being asked by the National Museum of Vanuatu for some of my photos. The Rossi Hotel has historical significance and they wanted some of my photos for their collection. I thought they might also make an interesting book for the many people who had passed through the restaurant before it closed down.

All the books are available at the Blurb Bookshop on the web. I'm also finishing one on Tokyo that will be available soon

One of your Melbourne pictures on your site is called "To The Potter Gallery". It is a black and white image and is one of my favorites as I am particularly fond of modern architecture.

Is this an area of work that particularly interests you too or do you have another aspect of urban living that you prefer to photograph?

Architecture says quite a lot about a City and its people and the way they live, so it's important to me - and interesting photos often have an architectural quality to them. My favorite shots I think are of people in spaces.

Finally I always like to ask interviewees to pass on a little of their experience of photography to people who are new to this medium and particularly to those exploring the subject of urban photography.

If you could give one piece of advice to a beginner in this area what would it be?

Read good novels. Photography is about you not the pictures.

Don't forget to visit Michaels Photoblog , its Melbourne pictures will open the doors to life in Melbourne and perhaps inspire you to get out there and explore your own neighbourhood using your own photography skills.