(Travel Experiences of WWP Photographer ~ Charles Meacham)
I arrived back in Taipei from Sydney over two weeks ago, and the daze still hasn’t fully worn off. I can still see, hear, and feel Mardi Gras. I close my eyes and find myself back on Oxford Street in the middle of all that sound and color. For me, the best part of being a photographer is coming up with an idea and then making that idea happen. The experience of being exactly where you want to be, at the exact time you want to be there is an incredible feeling. But as any photographer will tell you, not everyday is fun, and Sydney was no exception.
I arrived in Oz the day before one of Mardi Gras biggest events, Fair Day. Over 70,000 people were expected to show up at Sydney’s Victoria Park, and I was looking forward to a day of shooting and getting to meet different members of the community that I had been in contact with via email. But that morning getting to Victoria Park was a bit of a hassle. As I had written before, my hotel, which advertised being a LGBT and Mardi Gras supporter, knew nothing about the event or where it was being held. Going out onto one of the main streets in Sydney, two taxi drivers swore they had never heard of Victoria Park, and that I must have the name wrong. Finally, with the help of the police, I made my way there. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the Aussie sun was out in full force. Jet lagged and sunburnt, I found it hard to focus my attention and get into any kind of rhythm. I took pictures, but not anywhere the number I had hoped.
Two days later, I came across a magazine article that talked about a right-wing christian protest held a few days before the main parade during a church service. The event looked fairly large, so I checked some local maps, found the church, and prepared to go there to photograph the service. Getting there was not as easy as I thought, as I was directed to board the wrong train and missed the whole thing. For me this was 0/2 and you can really start getting down on yourself. It cost a lot of money to get to OZ, and not to produce would be a pretty big blow to the project, and to my morale.
The next event was the actual parade, and the pressure was on.
Sydney’s Mardi Gras is by far the largest, most organized event that I have yet photographed for the WWP project, and having the opportunity to be a part of it all was a truly unforgettable life experience. There were press passes, press meetings, police barricades, lots and lots of other photographers, news channels, etc..etc. The true enormity of it hits you as you look out at the huge crowds gathered.
Let me just say, I felt much better about the trip after my experience photographing the parade and Harbour Day. I’ll write more about these events soon, and check the WWP Flickr account for new photos from Sydney.