Being in the city for this shoot was an unnerving experience. In the seven years I’ve lived here, this is the emptiest Melbourne’s ever felt – both figuratively and literally.
These images were shot the day before stage-three restrictions were put in place and Victoria essentially went into lockdown. But it was clear the people of the city had well and truly moved before the government had.
Entire shopping arcades were deserted, and the only people on the street seemed to be Yarra Trams staff cleaning handrails, construction workers waiting for their shifts to end, and the homeless and underprivileged, many of whom have nowhere to go.
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It’s like the city is holding its breath. Waiting for it to happen. But we don’t know when it will hit, for how long, or what it’ll look like.
Enormous spaces such as the NGV and Flinders Street Station feel absurd with no-one in them. Public thoroughfares appear frozen in time, except for the pigeons. With the tourists gone, a pop-up health clinic has appeared in Melbourne’s iconic graffiti-covered Hosier Lane to help those who can’t afford to see a doctor.
It’s hard to see the businesses and restaurants that helped me build my photography career with closed doors and dark windows, but that’s the reality everywhere. It has to be, of course. But I know it is still early days, and I worry about how many of them will reopen after this has passed.
What I do know, is that when we can come out of our houses, and when hugging your friends is okay again, I’m going to double-down on visiting the places that make this city so special.