It’s funny to think that people are enamored with our devices now that we look to them to see the best of the real world. It’s an odd disconnect, but one that countless photographers are starting to fill by via social media. Phenomenons like Humans Of New York don’t just exist because of the romance of the city (though that helps), but because fundamentally, as human beings, we are still seeking connection with one another and our stories. Doing it online helps scrub us of the social awkwardness of actually starting a conversation with someone, and in this uncomplicated world we’re presented online, the brief window’s we see into other people’s lives become like a collection of little pieces of ourselves which we can tag, regram and share.
When was the last time you spent time people-watching in Adelaide? A little while? Thank goodness for the work of Shannon and Matt from @adelaidepeople then. Driven by curiosity; a shared interest in people and their stories, the couple started finding little moments in their everyday to capture the personalities of our streets.
Shannon had done some street photography projects during her travels over years, including the @24HourProject on Instagram while living in London (a project where photographers from all over the world photograph their city for 24 hours, posting one photo every hour for 24 hours). After moving back home to Adelaide, she discovered that finding interesting people or quirky characters to shoot was harder to find – but they were definitely still there. You just had to look a little closer!
“After Matt and I met, we quickly realised our shared interest in photography, and in particular documentary photography. We each had our own Instagram feed with our own street shots taken around Adelaide over time, and it became obvious to us that it really is the people that make our city so interesting. Before long the idea of combining our work and creating @adelaidepeople on Instagram grew.”
Matt shoots with his Leica M or Ricoh GR, and Shannon’s are predominantly taken on iPhone 6 although she’s just starting out with a new Fuji X100T. They take turns to post a set of three shots on our Instagram feed – Matt’s are framed in black and Shannon’s are framed in white.
“We love our city, and really it just is about showcasing Adelaide being Adelaide. We have such a diverse set of people that live here, and if you take a moment to look, there is actually a lot going on amongst the seemingly mundane. We look for the interesting characters, the social exchanges, patterns of behavior or quirky moments that all happen in a fleeting moment before they’re gone. Or sometimes it might be as simple as an elderly man sitting on a bench watching the world go by!”
While Humans Of New York is about telling stories as well as showing people, Matt and Shannon haven’t crossed the bridge of speaking to the people they are shooting directly just yet. “Quite often the best photos are those that are unplanned and spontaneous so the opportunity hasn’t always arisen to stop and chat – but we then always walk away wishing that we could have found out more! We do often talk about how we might incorporate this a little more as we build @adelaidepeople. People are so interesting and you never know what’s sitting behind the seemingly ordinary.”
While people snapped on the Instagram are free to ask for the picture to be removed, so far nobody has done so. The pair adhere to strict guidelines around the pictures they select and take special to to make sure that nobody is caught in a situation that might embarrass them. “Street photography is so important towards documenting the history of our times,” says Shannon. “We would always hope that people understand the sentiment behind we’re doing. But of course if asked we are always happy to remove a photo.”
Documentary photography has been around for a long time. And humans have been fascinated with each other for even longer than that. Sadly though, with the rise of social media, social barriers have become bigger and bigger and people just don’t stop to look, or talk to each other anymore. We’re so isolated with such busy lives, despite being so connected. This is the duality of accounts like @adelaidepoeple, which seek to reconnect us from our isolation through the media which is driving our separation in the first place.
“We’d love to see @adelaidepeople grow more of a following and even start to generate some personal stories from the people we come across,” says Matt. “Down the track we would love to exhibit some of our work, but ultimately our goal is to keep doing what we’re doing and capture Adelaide doing what it does best.”
Follow @adelaidepeople online via Instagram.