Never Bite The Hand That Holds The Camera

There’s a large cane basket that sits on the floor in the front room; it’s used to store most of our photo albums. I don’t remember the last time an album was taken from the basket; they sit in the basket as if they were a game of Stack Tower. The basket’s duty these days is to serve as a decorative piece and occupy the negative space in front of the didgeridoo. At one time the albums were kept within easy reach on a bookcase shelf or a side table. They were searched at random, or each page of an album was methodically turned releasing treasured memories of long ago holidays, family gatherings, birthdays, and special events. Most of the albums have plastic pages with six pockets on each side holding the pictures; some have a clear plastic overlay coated with an adhesive to hold the pictures onto the page. And there may be an album where the prints are held in place with decorative photo mounting corners. I remember when the pages of photo albums were always sheets of black paper. You’d carefully put a photo mounting corner onto a black and white photo, lick them, and then hold the photo in place on the page until the glue spit stuff on the photo corners was somewhat dry.

image source:jmcadam

Years ago we licked a lot of stuff. You never worried about where a stamp for an envelope had been; you’d just lick the back of it and stick it onto an envelope. If you collected stamps you’d use a stamp hinge to mount them in your stamp collectors album. The hinge was a small piece of transparent paper with glue on one side. You’d lick the side with the glue and try to put half of the licked sticky side onto the back of the stamp, and then fold the hinge so it would stick onto a page in the stamp album. And you did this all before your spit dried, and the stickiness stopped being sticky. Licking stuff was just second nature. You always licked the icing off a Tic Toc biscuit before eating it, and you always licked you fingers or wherever the sauce and meat had dropped when you were eating eating a pie and sauce, and you always licked the beaters after mum had whipped the cream for her cakes with the Mixmaster.

Back then you never really knew what you had taken a picture of until you picked up your printed photos from the chemist shop. You’d point the camera at something, look down and through the view finder to see what the camera was pointed at, and then push the shutter button on the side of the camera. I think I had a Kodak Brownie Flash II. You got your Kodak black and white film at the chemist shop; 8 pictures to a roll. The film was wound on a spool that would slip into the camera.

image source:skmcadam

You’d take the exposed film back to the chemist to be sent away for processing and printing; it would seem like an eternity, but the next week your photos were in a Kodak envelope waiting to be picked up. Before you left the shop you’d breathlessly reach into the envelope for your black and white memories; most times only half of the eight were in focus, well framed, or properly exposed. And you would carefully put a photo mounting corner onto the corners of each black and white photo, lick them, and then hold the photo in place on the page of a photo album.

I think at one time photo’s were somewhat personal. Photo albums weren’t passed around or given to friends to enjoy; they were personal keepsakes. You never really knew what attractions, buildings, scenes, or destinations your friends had preserved from their holiday’s as personal memories. When relatives or friends did share their albums it was unusual to find two identical photographs; a well known attraction may have been photographed from the same viewing place but there was always a difference in the angle or direction. It’s different today. It seems that images are captured, and then immediately shared on the myriad of social networks, or uploaded and distributed through cloud based databases. A quick search through these online resources shows that most people have photographed the same buildings, attractions, and landmarks from the same viewing place, at the same angle, and from the same direction. Data suggests that 35% of the online photographs of the Eiffel Tower are taken from the same three angles and that 85% of the photos of Machu Picchu are from the same spots; creating nearly half a million identical images on Instagram. It would seem that Instagram and TripAdvisor are not only used for inspiration of where to go for a holiday, but what to photograph and visit.

image source:jmcadam

And so I started musing. Why not provide different images of the same attractions and landmarks for all those bored with seeing the same images; and what if there was an online database of images of the world’s finest beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes and glaciers, rain forests, cultural monuments, heritage sites, important historical and political sites, and architectural structures taken from different perspectives. And to ensure the integrity of “a not the same old images” database an image would be subjected to a content analysis script before it could be uploaded. If the content analysis script determined that a similar image already existed in the database, then the image awaiting uploading would be rejected; no two images would be the same.

The iconic Flinders and Swanston Street intersection could be thought of as Melbourne’s Time Square, Piccadilly Circus, St Mark’s Campanile, or the Fontaine Saint-Michel; there’s always people going places walking up and down the street, and others stopping and waiting to meet under the clocks. On each corner of the vibrant intersection is a quintessential Melbourne building.


Flinders Street Railway Station is Australia’s oldest train station, and the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere. Before Melbourne’s underground was built all suburban trains would finish and start from one of Flinders Street sixteen platforms. The clocks under the main dome have always shown the departure time of the next train; if I was living in Melbourne I would be meeting under the clocks. There’s always an urban myth attached to an iconic building, and Flinders Street is no exception. The firm that won the design competition for Melbourne’s new station was also building the Mumbai station and it’s rumoured that the plans for the two stations were mistakenly switched. India got a Gothic style station, and Melbourne an East-Indian design with a flashy dome, an arched entrance, a tower, and clocks.


Young and Jacksons has welcomed Melbourne drinkers since 1875. It’s not only legendary as a watering hole, but also for a nude painting. Chloe was a 19 year old Parisian artist’s model named Marie, and was painted by French figure painter Jules Joseph Lefebvre. Chloe was showcased at the Paris Salon in 1875; she has graced the walls of Young and Jackson’s since the early nineteen hundreds. Who didn’t have a few pots of the amber in the public bar whilst waiting for their train; looking through the windows, and across the street to the Flinders Street clocks to check their time. There was always time for another couple of pots. Today you can relax with a beer, wine, or a cocktail, and steal a glimpse of Australia’s most famous $5 million nude in Chloe’s Room on the first floor.


The neo- Gothic St Paul’s Cathedral was designed by the British architect William Butterfield. The building’s foundation stone was laid in1880. The church is unique for several reasons. Instead of using the traditional blue-grey Melbourne Bluestone of the time a warm yellow-brown coloured sandstone from Geelong was used. The three spires that were added thirty years later were never part of the original design; they’re a different colour from the rest of the building because a stone from Sydney was used for their construction. Before construction of the church started it was discovered the traditional east west orientation design wouldn’t allow the cathedral to fit into it’s block of land; it was flipped, and the north-south orientation makes it unique from all other Anglican Cathedrals.


In 1967 the Prince’s Bridge railway station was demolished, and the seventeen storey Princes Gate Towers twin towers office buildings were built over the still functioning train platforms. The towers became the headquarters of Victoria’s Gas and Fuel Corporation. When mum and nanna went into town they would start their day at the cooking presentations at the Gas and Fuel’s demonstration kitchen. Thirty years after being built the stark blocks of concrete were flattened, and the railway lines covered over. Federation Square, a modern piazza was created; a civic and cultural space where Melburnians would gather to celebrate, share, learn, and be inspired. Fed Square’s open spaces, galleries, restaurants and bars have become part of Melbourne’s heartbeat.

If you Google Flinders Street Station, Young and Jackson Hotel, St Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square, or Flinders and Swanston Street intersection you’re presented with countless identical images; all taken from the same angle, and the same point of view. The following are the beginning of my “a not the same old images” database for the iconic Flinders and Swanston Street intersection.

image source:jmcadam

image source:jmcadam

The more I mused the concept of “a not the same old images” databases the more I became convinced that

the ones who see things differently; they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. steve jobs 1997

And now I need to put the kettle on, sit back with a cup of tea, and look through the albums to find photo’s of my svelte self.


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