Photojournalism,  Projects

Photographing the Perth Royal Show 2012 and failing miserably…

I can’t tell the screams of my friend apart from the yelling of the others. I’m just glad I have my feet firmly on terra firma, two showbags and a handbag (hers) wedged firmly between them and a camera (mine) in my hands.

She gave me the works last year when the Perth Royal Agricultural Show was on. First, she took me blind as ever (I had to take off my glasses) onto  a ride that took you up, spun you around, held you upside down and dropped you down, over and over again. With a harness that didn’t seem like it wanted to hold on to my petite figure, I was terrified. And not in a thrill-seeking kind of way. Inevitably, the ride was over and I went off to get a massage, only to be dragged back onto a rollercoaster and then to mind the bags while I got a crick in my neck staring up at her waiting for the Mega Drop to live up to part of its name at least and bloody well drop thereby undoing any good the massage had done.

It wasn’t my first time at the Show but it was the first time I had gone with someone who was keen on any of the rides. Most of my meandering around the Show in the last few years had been to see the actual agricultural side of the show – Sideshow Alley as an attraction tends to lose its luster after one has been to major theme parks.

“No way,” I said to her this year, “no bloody way are you getting me to go up with you.”  She had had more beers than I had had at this point so she gave in and all was forgiven when I turned up, camera in hand.

“You can take a picture of me when I go on the ride!”

“That was the idea.”

And so we proceeded to meander, the two of us, looking at teenagers in micro minis, cropped tops and hints of puppy fat and wondering if we were back in the ’70s. I was both wishing I had worn a skirt and gratified that I wasn’t – despite the occasional sunny appearances and the high temperature, there was still a chilly breeze that wafted in over Claremont Showgrounds.

When at the show one follows one’s senses and the very first thing we heard was a loud noise – bagpipes and drums and coming across the source of the noise, we were very pleased to discover, as would you if you were a red-blooded female, that it was a band. Of policemen. In kilts and garters and uniform.

My friend sat down to watch and listen and I sat down to catch my breath. Oh my.

Eventually I was dragged away and we went into some of the exhibition halls where I soothed the hormones by quaffing free wine samples and splurging on a large square of double chocolate fudge. As we wandered through the rows of stalls we realised that we were on the wrong side. We were part of the captive audience and market being sold to and we should have been the sellers – because anything and everything was being sold.

Cats were then in order. And behold it was the foreigner newly arrived to these fair shores (ie, me and not really that new) rather than the born and bred here native (my friend) who expertly guided us past the cattle judging arena, several teenaged cowboys and one far more efficient looking cowgirl and up the Cattle Way/Lane which is an incredibly useful shortcut that brings you right in front of the camels. It certainly wasn’t the free Wi-Fi provided by iiNet or the Show’s very own iPhone app since I have an Android loving species and my hands were full with the camera. Rather an odd choice there since Samsung runs Android and has been so far selling more smartphones this year than Apple – way to not have a technological clue, Perth Royal Show committee.

Turn left for sheep shearing, woodchopping trials and cats (most of whom were asleep as is to be expected from the frustrating feline species). Turn right for main arena, horse riding, cow milking demonstrations and the ever popular but deserted on Tuesday afternoon Dairy Pavilion. Straight ahead and stepping around various things designed for the kiddies to the petting zoo, crafts hall, first aid centre and, a favourite of mine, the sheepdog trials. By the time we got there we had missed the last trial. We did get shots of the sheep getting mustered back into the shed built for them to stay in and a few that were yet to be mustered back. The kelpies were getting a rest in their little kennels.

We then meandered back to Sideshow Alley so that my friend could go not on the ride she had been talking about for the past two days but something quite tamer but no less terrifying to me. I refused to go since someone needed to mind the bags and the camera.

I had been trying to find something interesting to take shots of all day but things were generally too crowded, fast moving or really, well, run of the mill, boring. How many other photographers were out and about at the show? I wanted to find shots that would surprise me as well.

 

I started noticing that a few of the booths in Sideshow Alley were closing. Some people were deliberately popping balloons on their stall because they wouldn’t last overnight for the punters to have a crack at them the next day. and it struck me how much litter there was on the ground, predominantly tickets for various rides and stalls and contests scattered over the pathways. People walked across them not really noticing and I wondered who cleaned it up and if it got recycled – all that paper and cardboard.

Finally, my friend decided on a ride, did a doubletake at the price but handed everything to me and went up. Since the ride revolved and we had to wait quite a bit before she got her turn, by the time she was several hundred feet in the air, I was leisurely zooming in and out and snapping away, focusing on an area of the sky I knew the ride would swing up into in the next few seconds. The light was fading as overcast clouds moved in. And so we moved on, pausing to take a shot of the roller coaster before heading to the cable car ride across the Showground.

I had never been on it and I snapped shots of the show from up above but everything was too shaky to take more than a blurred shot of the ride itself and the people on it.

Musing as to whether we would have more fun if we brought our future kids with us to the Show, my friend said, “But then you don’t get to do what you want to do.”

And it was true. Because on what was ostensibly a work day for both of us, we had taken the afternoon off to see the Show and years of experience had meant we gravitated to what we liked about it – all things cute and fluffy and alive, all things yummy, all things musical and in the case of my friend at least, all things potentially terrifying.

And besides, I had fudge, I had photos. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Note: For more photos, you can go to the album on the Facebook page. IF I get permission, I will add the photos of my friend on the ride to that album.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is usually based in Melbourne but is currently flouncing around in Perth for a week for the Inaugural 2018 KSP - Varuna Foundation Fellowship. She will be at Melbourne's Continuum and online running a Writers' Bloc course in the coming weeks.

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