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Lisa Zhu presents Side Street Sydney

When Lisa Zhu contacted us with her photos way back in October, just a month after we had launched, we immediately thought, YES. It was one of those love at first sight moments, where we seemed to find exactly who we didn’t even know we were looking for. Now, nearly 10 months after Side Street began, we couldn’t really imagine it existing without her. Her images capture everything that Sydney is through our incredibly rose-tinted frames, but unlike such a cliché would leave you to believe, the way we see it is exactly as it is… drenched in light that bathes us in its infectious warmth, spreading through the city with a midas touch that seems to come from a dream than a passing view.

When we started this site, the whole point was to encourage people to look at Sydney with a second glance – past the commercialised watering holes, the harbour bridge and the picture-perfect postcard images that it so flawlessly persuades us to recall. Sure, we want you to remember how lucky you are whenever you’re looking through the bus window at a city surrounded with water, but there are also the other, more subtle moments – walking to the nearest coffee shop and snagging a hit-the-spot, nearly-as-delicious-as-Italy espresso, grabbing the most perfect vintage jacket at one of Sydney’s many fine second-hand stores, and discovering a new suburb just when you thought you knew this city so well. At our very doorstep, we have some of the world’s best creatives, the finest restaurants and, of course, beauty – everywhere. All you have to do is look up – which is exactly what Lisa has been doing with her ever so generous contributions to this site.

Although we’ve been working together for the past few months, we decided to quiz her on exactly how she came to be so bloody talented at what she does – and got a few sneak peeks of her new work for you to view before TOMORROW NIGHT’S EXHIBITION, which we really hope you’ll join us for. All event details can be found here, so please RSVP for yourself and encourage your friends to do the same. And be sure to introduce yourselves to us – I’m brown and Lisa’s Asian. Surely that’ll suffice.

So, Lisa, how long have you been taking pictures for?
Ever since I first smuggeled a camera into a gig I've been hauling a camera with me almost everywhere to document mine and my friends’ various escapades.

What drew you to photography?
I've always been fascinated by my surroundings (I'm one of those strange people who always walks into people because I'm so busy looking up) and I just wanted to translate the moments and images that caught my attention to share with everyone else. I love the challenge of trying to capture the perfect moment when all the different elements come together. Usually, however, the best photos involve spontaneous things, like a dog sprinting through the middle of your shot, a lead singer crowd-surfing into the crowd or the priceless expression on a subject's face.

What is it about Side Street, Sydney that aligns with your aesthetic?
The curiosity and appreciation towards the diverse ways in which Sydney chooses to express itself. Side Street celebrates the contrasting styles and details of our city and I try to express them as best as I can in my photos.

What is it you love about Sydney, both from a personal and visual perspective?
Sydney has a relaxed confidence and wonderful energy which I love. Sydney is visually diverse from the casual beach culture to the evolving industrial landscape which makes it very interesting to photograph. I don't think I'll ever get tired of photographing Sydney's gorgeous blue sky and the extraordinary light we have.

What do you aim to uncover in your images?
Moments or everyday scenes which make you look twice.

How would you define your aesthetic?
Nostalgic, vibrant, sun-soaked.

How have you grown as a photographer since you've been shooting for Side Street?
I am a lot more confident in the technical requirements to get a specific aesthetic for each of my shots. I've grown in my adaptability to shoot in different evironments.

How do you hope to grow? Are there any new techniques you are looking forward to exploring?
I look forward to gaining more technical training and experience in styled shoots. There are a lot of amazing local photographers I would love to work with and learn from. I think like most photographers, it's a joy just to be able to shoot everyday and develop my skills with different subjects, equipment and environments.

Tell us a little bit about the work you have created for the exhibition. Where did you go/how is it different to your other work?
There was a lot more planning involved with organising equipment, timing the lighting and location scouting than I had previously done before.
This exhibition also required more comprehensive exploring around our gorgeous city with numerous roadtrips, from Palm Beach to Cronulla to Campbeltown. Several shots also involved somewhat dubious entries into otherwise inaccessible locations which was actually quite fun.

Hopefully see you tomorrow night xx

interview: Seema Duggal
photos: Lisa Zhu


July 8, 2010 at 2:08 PM Tania said...

These are some really sweet photos!

Speaking of sweet, have you heard about this awesome comp from Optus?

Passionate about music, 16-24 and living in regional Australia? You could be an Optus Sound Scribe, get paid to interview bands and score a massive gig in your town! And if you're voted Optus Sound Scribe of the Year you'll win a trip to LA and an internship at a major Australian music festival. Click the link to find out more and register

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