Tosin’s Images & Anecdotes (TIAA) is my self-assigned photography challenge of 2022. The immediate objective is to select one image from my inventory (a cityscape, landscape, portrait, oddity, etc.) each week and write something about it. This “something” could be the story behind the photo, a triggered memory in relation to the photo, or simply a reaction or reflection based on the subject matter featured. The long-term objective is to encourage myself to add more content to “La Vue Atypique”, which celebrates its first decade in publication this year.
What can I say about the photograph above?
Shortly after returning to America from Australia, I started to process the photographs I had accumulated from the voyage, which included adventurous interludes in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Upon review, I remembered a number of humorous, candid moments while waiting at Lavender Bay, anxiously anticipating Sydney’s entry into 2014 given the city’s world-renowned New Year’s fireworks extravaganza.
Here’s the story behind this week’s feature photo challenge:
Aaaah, Sydney in summertime. . .
There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people congregated by the shore of Lavender Bay, adjacent to Sydney Harbour. It was so crowded that the only space I had available was atop some thick, sturdy bushes that were durable enough to hold my weight. I was situated about four feet (1.2 meters) above the ground with my trusty tripod at its full extension of almost eight feet (2.4 meters), considerably higher than most of the people surrounding me.
By nature, I’m fairly quiet and very focused when it comes to my photography. I tend not to start conversations while calculating and composing. Also, given that I had been waiting all my life to visit Sydney and experience a New Year’s there, I was silent because I was so excited and apprehensive that I was about to achieve this objective. However, as human nature dictates, we are social beings, so that didn’t stop my neighbors from striking conversations with me — especially when I was standing only a few centimeters away from them. Dozens of friends and sources had previously informed me how friendly and outgoing Australians were in general. With the exception of a select few individuals, this observation proved to be mostly true. Personally, I often try my best to not come across as a standoffish or impertinent American during my travels. As a result, since I was “smack dab” in a chaotic environment I couldn’t control, I convinced myself this was part of the experience of the event. Why not enjoy the conversation in the process?
As casual chatter continued with my immediate neighbors, a few Aussies approached me from time to time with a peculiar request — they asked me to take their photos! Namely, there were two young women who were. . .hmmm. . .very drunk. (I might as well recall events as they were if I am to tell a good story).
After taking a few glances at my camera setup and at me standing on the bushes, they begged profusely for me to take their photo to commemorate the last day of 2013. I told them that I couldn’t guarantee a clear shot given the poor lighting. It was almost midnight, after all!
The ladies said they didn’t care and asked for me to take the shot. I complied. Afterwards, they asked for my business card so they could email me, thus allowing them to remind me who they were and request copies of the portraits. I thought that was a good idea, so I did just that, temporarily forgetting they were completely intoxicated. Admittedly, it didn’t hurt my ego when one of the girls exclaimed in her charming accent, “Why is it that photographers are always so hot? You’re hot!”
That got a chuckle out of me. I occasionally received playful compliments like this when I traveled but never back at home in Seattle. (I really should be a full-time, professional nomad of the world).
Because the ladies were so loud in their request for a photo, they unwittingly drew the attention of others around us. Funnily, what was supposed to be a quick photo or two of the ladies turned out to be a group photo of a bunch of very friendly, boisterous, and rambunctious revelers who wanted to share the moment as well. You can see the two ladies in the center bottom of this week’s photo at the beginning of the article. Their heads were clipped in the image because my camera was mounted so high on my tripod. Alas, I took a second shot which turned out quite well under the circumstances. A third lady joined as soon as I pressed the shutter the button, so I only managed to capture her as a motion blur. I tried.
Of course, as human nature might have predicted, I never saw or heard from them again.
While I would never deliberately jeopardize anyone’s privacy, I find these photos to be completely random, so if any of you recognize these two, let them know the photos are still waiting for them!
The original title I gave to this week’s photograph was “I Should Be So Tipsy”, a parody of the first single by Australia’s most popular pop singer, Kylie Minogue, but I prefer “Merry Revelry Temporarily”. The reason is all in the title. As fun as the New Year’s fireworks were, and in spite of the joyous camaraderie of complete strangers gathering to celebrate this annual affair, it made me wonder why such revelry is so frequently short-lived.
We all want to be seen as human beings with feelings, goals, and dreams. We don’t want to be discouraged, disrespected, or dismissed. Why does it take a one-off event and some alcohol or drugs to bring people together only for that enjoyment to dissipate or disappear the next day, as though none of it ever happened?
This phenomenon made me think of characters on television sitcoms or dramas who are typically adversaries. Occasionally, there’s an odd episode — an outlier — that forces the adversaries into a predicament or situation in which they must join forces and cooperate in order to resolve their dilemma. Astonishingly, the rivals discover what they have in common and seem to grudgingly display their mutual respect. The viewer of the TV series is led to believe the rivals could become friends. However, by the end of the episode, the characters have resolved their mutual problem and everything is reset — they are enemies again. The fighting and dramatic feuds continue as though the ceasefire and moments of borderline friendship never occurred. Of course, many series would fail or end too soon if the main protagonist and antagonist became friends, but that’s the world of fiction. Ratings insist on everlasting controversy.
Back in Sydney, about an hour after midnight, people were heading home, and I was disappointed in hearing all the arguments, yelling, and swearing all around me. I know a lot of people were drunk, but perhaps there were a lot of “angry drunks” in the crowd. Some of the bickering bordered on verbal abuse and was extremely loud. I couldn’t pass judgement because I did not know the causes of so many audible arguments, but it disheartened me because a little less than an hour before, everyone was cheering, hugging, kissing, and wishing each other well for the new year.
Was it all just lip service and bullshit?
Is it just lip service and bullshit delivered and programmed on a special occasion? Why?
It’s always Merry Revelry Temporarily.
11 articles down for the TIAA challenge. 41 remain!