Edited by Jenna E. Garrett. Photos by William Broadhurst.
Australian photographer Will Broadhurst’s empty landscapes act as visual markers for memory and nostalgia. His documentation of the familiar locations we pass by each day attempts to discover the precious in the mundane.
How do the ideas of memory and time play a part in the photos you take?
It’s hard to explain but it does play a big part. I have an obsession to capture daily events in my life or in others’ that I feel will mean something and hold significance in later years. Things like the places where I grew up, summer holidays and roadtrips with friends. It saddens me to think that these moments would potentially pass without some kind of proof that they took place. There’s shortcomings in thinking like this, but I’m afraid of forgetting it all one day and having the photos is important to me.
Are most of the places you photograph personally nostalgic?
The majority are, however the night stuff I’ve been trying recently is less so. It’s forced me to go out and hunt for the images, putting me out of my comfort zone quite a bit. I hope that the separation and lack of emotional sentimentality translates into the images though. It’s the complete opposite of what I’ve ever previously done but it’s been great fun to work on. I’ve always struggled at building a conceptual series, as every other image that I’ve taken has simply been for my own documentation purposes. But I feel I’m getting closer to something more consolidated with these images.
Light has played a very important part in your newer work. You speak about the windows of a home being an avenue to see out, but also a stage for the outside to glimpse the world within. What sorts of emotions do you think of when seeing windows glowing in the darkness?
My fascination with these urban landscapes at night kind of began when I started going on bike rides before bed so I’d fall asleep more easily . Because it was so late and there’d be hardly anyone about, I started to pay attention to all the glowing windows of the houses as I’d cycle past along the street. I found it interesting what people unconsciously displayed to the outside world. You could see the flickering glow of T.V.s in living rooms, smell dinners and hear distant conversations. All this represented a warmth and security that had seemingly been locked off and denied to me (even though I had a perfectly happy home). It was then that these themes of loneliness and isolation became what I wanted to capture in my photographs. The works of Todd Hido are a huge inspiration and I’d like to develop an Australian spin on what he does so well. Long way to go though!
You shoot primarily on film. Tell us why you find that medium significant to your work and the value in general.
I have nothing against digital but I feel I just can’t compete with people who are primarily shooting that way. If I pick up one and take a photo of something, I’m often so unhappy and disappointed with how it looks on the back of the screen that I immediately revert back to what I’m used to. It’s not a question of which is better than the other, it’s more like an artist choosing to paint with oil pastels over watercolours as it is just what they are confident with. Of course there is a huge aesthetic appeal, but I feel it plays to my advantage when time and memory are so important to me. The film negatives age and the colours will fade, giving weight to the notions of a time past that will be no more. It seems silly but I want to show my kids and grandkids in the future that I lived, was young once and had a bit of fun.
Will Broadhurst is 21 years old and living in Sandringham, Melbourne, Australia. He most recently graduated from RMIT with a Bachelors in Photography. Next year he plans to “hit the road”.