A Year’s Worth of Street Photography Captures the Bustle of a CBD Lunch Hour


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A Year’s Worth of Street Photography Captures the Bustle of a CBD Lunch Hour

Sam Wong spent 12 months photographing the same inner city intersection at precisely 1:15PM.

In any city's central business district, lunch hour provides a brief sense of frantic freedom as suits mingle with street buskers, tourists, and shoppers while grabbing their food and heading back to the office. Standing on a busy Melbourne street corner at 1:15PM one day, photographer Sam Wong found himself beguiled by the atmosphere of it all. So he picked up his camera and started to shoot.

"At a quarter past one, everything occurred spontaneously—with the warm sun shining, pedestrians passing by, noisy surroundings," he explains to Creators. He's since taken his camera to that very same spot, on the corner of Melbourne's Swanston Street and Flinders Lane, for the past year. The photographs, always taken at approximately the same time, will be exhibited in a new show at No Vacancy Gallery—aptly titled Quarter Past One.


Wong's wider art practice has long embraced the magic of the inner city. The seeds of the Quarter Past One project were actually sown when he used to perform as a dancing busker on CBD street corners himself.

"I had a conversation two years ago in a bar with a friend who I used to dance with on the street when I was younger," he recalls. "We were talking about all the weird things we use to see on at this street corner where we busked at on a weekly basis. I guess I was trying to reflect that experience in a completely different way."

To compile images for the exhibition and its accompanying photo book, Wong regularly visited the same street spot and attempted to find new ways of seeing it. "I always started at 1:15PM and tried to visit every week or month depending on how busy I was with work," he says. The subjects he capture vary from endearingly mundane to delightfully zany.

"The exciting part about this project was that every day it was different," Wong says. "Somedays it was raining and moody and others it was humid, sunny and sweaty. I loved the diaristic aspect of it all, I think that's what kept me going back. I experimented with a bunch of different shots, some days I would get up close and others I'd step back. It just depended on the mood of the day and how busy the corner was."

Wong experienced his share of odd and confronting moments over the course of the project. A large mirror, seen in the background of many of the images in the series, makes the location particularly visually compelling—and sometimes a little spooky.


"There was one time on a hot afternoon when a blind man was walking pass the mirror just as I was taking the picture, and then all of a sudden he paused. As soon as the shot was done, he continued passing through," he recalls.

Wong probably won't revisit the site as a photographer, but it's impossible to sever the connection he formed with it over time. "I feel a strange connection to this street corner, the mirror, and the energy the place holds. It's exciting and mysterious in so many ways," he says.

Quarter Past One opens on March 7 and continues until March 12 at Melbourne's No Vacancy Gallery, with a book launch on the evening of March 9. You can find out more about the show here and Sam Wong here.


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