Locked out in the Backyard


Mandy Zhou


Upper Secondary Category


Although Sydney’s backyard has no shortage of beautiful architecture, rich heritage and vibrant culture, I wanted to draw attention to an area people prefer to overlook. I have gone out on several occasions and found that, in Sydney, there’s also no shortage of people who were sitting out on the streets, alone, on our ruthless 5-degree winter nights. It would be windy, it would be wet and it would be cold, but there they’d still stay – days and nights on end, wrapped in a mere thin blanket – while passers-by either swore or looked away. It was because they had nowhere to go.

When Sydney shuts our doors at night, we are locking them out in the backyard. Australia is my home, and Sydney’s backyard is my backyard. Each person has their own story, which I tried to retell through my shots using various features. I also took the photos at night and in the rain, to show how exposed these people are to the elements. One man was telling me how he had no family left, so I used wide-angle lenses to photograph him in his surroundings, communicating a sense of loneliness.

I used a slow shutter speed to show the movement of cars and people, as the world passes by without a second glance. This proved difficult, as I was photographing moving people; the slow shutter speed meant that it was easy for the model to blur on the photo, especially as it was dark, and it’s difficult to hold perfectly still for extended periods of time.

I desaturated the backgrounds of photos, to emphasise that these people are important and shouldn’t be overlooked. These three images are truly humbling and show the lives of those locked in our backyard.

* All photos taken with written permission from featured people, and edited using Adobe Photoshop.



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