Before the small bars legislation was enacted in NSW in 2009, Cafe Lounge in Surry Hills was Sydney’s original small bar. Somehow, it had survived as it was for well over 15 years.
It was a vibrant supporter of the local community, a regular venue for live music and most importantly, had an atmosphere that welcomed everyone. It was the template for the legislation and sat at the epicenter of Sydney’s cultural fabric - the focal point and guiding light of Sydney’s now vibrant small bar scene.
In 2008 it was my local. And, because I became friends with the owners, they offered me an exhibition there. What they meant is that I should stick up a few prints here and there and that was that.
Knowing the critical role of the Lounge, I realised what made the bar so special were the people who worked there at the time, energising the place.
So I turned it around on the owners and asked if I could shoot portraits of the staff. Strangely enough, they said yes.
This series is all about self-perception. Each image was shot within the physical space of the bar, and each is a portrait of a then current staff member – how they perceived themselves in this seminal venue.