faces in the sky

Anything that involves the flashing lights, bright colours and hand-painted imperfection of the time-warp Americana carny aesthetic is sure to make me swoon. (You might know this by now.) Carnivals, fairs, fetes, shows, parades, festivals - they all render me weak at the knees. So when September rolled around and the Weekly Times released its annual bumber Royal Melbourne Show guide, it was a no-brainer that I would fork out the hefty entrance fee for the chance to catch all the carnival splendour in its natural habitat.

I took a couple of photos as I navigated my way through the pram parade, but something was amiss. Everywhere I looked - and especially through the claustrophobic maze of eccentric spruikers, dangerous rides and exploitative games - I saw incredible scenes, but still, somehow, felt completely uninspired. At the time I anticipated every photographic mishap I have ever had, and as a result imagined that any photos I took would be failures. And so, after exploring most of the layout on foot, after taking about seven photos between two cameras, after under two hours, I left.

My photography woes continued days and weeks after the Show. As I had only taken three shots on my Holga, I knew I needed to use up the film. Unfortunately I had left the flash switched on for several days and the batteries were dead, meaning I would have to take the remaining nine shots without a flash - a daunting task considering even outdoor shots usually need a fill-in flash. This did not help my lack of enthusiasm. But as I set off to the second of two Grand Finals, a whole two weeks after the Show expedition, I forced myself to take the camera and make the most of the blue sky and sunshine. And so, on the way to and from the dismal game, I finished the film. The following week, I picked up the prints with hopelessly low expectations.

How I wished I took more at the Show. The one at the top of this post is gloriously over-the-top in its colours and layers, and the food stand exhibits all the things I love about the carny look - the typeface, the building shape, the colour combinations. But what really makes this photo worthwhile for me is, of course, that mischievously happy face in the sky.

I do quite like the striking shape and composition of the overwhelmingly imposing church, but it's the intense blue sky that made my heart sing when I saw this photo.

Aah, the mighty MCG. With a lot of post-firework smoke in this instance. I find this shot really interesting with the colours and the smoke - but let's face it, any shot of the 'G is going to be appealing to a Melburnian, if only for sentimental reasons. (And, for the record, much more worthy of worship than the church.)

It's a little overexposed, but the way the flora perfectly parallels the Birrarung Marr Federation Bells is nothing short of lovely.

The fruits of my lomo labour thankfully proved encouraging enough to pull me out of my photographic funk. Which is often the case, with art and otherwise - precisely when you start to lose faith, it pulls itself together and proves itself worthy of your attention. Just in the nick of time.

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