Meet & Greet is a photography book after my own heart. The book is a group effort from the Melbourne-based collective Precious Memories Club, and is ostensibly a series of street portraits with the stories of how they came about. It's a pleasant change to get the inside story behind these images because it gives them context, rather than the shroud of mystery common to most photography books. I got in touch with Matthew Ware and Timothy Coghlan, two of the photographers behind the book, to get the inside story behind the inside stories.
VICE: What is Precious Memories Club?
Matthew Ware: I don't really know, but it seems to be a group of photographers/people with cameras all from Melbourne. Members range from the ultra-experienced, well-studied photographers to the "don't really give a shit/take my point and shoot wherever I go" to people somewhere in between.
Timothy Coghlan: A good bunch of mates who document the world that we are surrounded and consumed by each day through the lens of a camera. All about saving those precious memories.
I imagine a lot of your photos have a good story behind them, but often that side of it is left as a mystery to the viewer. Was the process of writing the stories behind the images in the book difficult?
Matthew: The whole idea for this book came about because I was walking through the city late one night. I must have been in a good mood or something and I was feeling really inspired. I came across all these unreal characters and for whatever reason had the courage to talk to them. I came across a woman vomiting out the front of the Big 3 Cafe on Swanston Street. Her friends were holding her hair back and stuff. I took a picture and bailed before they knew what happened, and then heard, "HEY DICKHEAD, DELETE THAT!"
I love this stuff. I love the experience and I love talking to weirdos, so I came up with the idea of this book because half those pictures turned out shit but I liked the experience I had taking them and I wanted to share it. So for me it was pretty easy to write, but I think other people found it a little harder. You also have to find the line where the story actually adds to the picture, as opposed to takes away from it.
Timothy: It was really easy. It was nice giving context to each photograph. I feel that it provides proof that an effort was made to understand the moment or the subject that was being photographed.
Do you think it changes the way people look at the photos?
Matthew: For some people it definitely does. Personally I like to know what's going through an artist's head when they make something. If I don't like a piece of art it's usually because I don't know the context. But convince me with interesting or unusual context and I'll probably love it.
For this style of documentary/street photography I don't think it really changes how people see the images, but maybe it changes how they see the photographer.
Timothy: It gives the viewer an understanding of why the photograph was taken. It provides an insight into each photographer's thought process and what they find interesting when photographing.
Tim, your photo of the guy at his funeral is a pretty heavy image. Is there a line when it comes to taking a photo that you won't cross?
Timothy: Whenever I take any photo, no matter what the subject is, I never question whether should I take it or not. I am yet to come to a line that I feel I should not cross when I have a camera/iPhone. I like having a record of what I see and what is going on around me.
My old man was really ill at the start of 2013, he needed major heart surgery and visiting him in the Intensive Care Unit seeing him hooked up to all the machines was real heavy. But I had a camera so I took a photo of him. I really like that photo too. When taking photos that are of heavy subject matter, I think it is best to make sure that the photo respects the situation I'm documenting.
Meet & Greet launches at The Good Copy on Thursday 29 January at 6 PM.
To pre-order your copy click here.
Words by Max Olijnyk. Follow him on Instagram.