Featured Project: Salad Days – A period of inexhaustible brash exuberance by James Grundy
Quiet rural towns offer little in the form of excitement for those stricken with terminal misbehaviour. They are a poor sanctuary to those with a sickening passion to live.
I felt this energy as I moved back to my home town after being away for 4 years, found a new group of friends, and a photography project fell directly into my lap. this was the beginning of Salad Days.
I shot all the photographs on my Canon AE-1 program with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. The film used varied between Kodak T-MAX 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400, always shot at ISO 400. These photographs were taken between 2014 and 2016.
There was something invigorating about hanging out with these guys. With a lust for (mis)adventure, I never knew where the next location was going to be, or what it was going to be. But I knew that it would always be something.
There’s often a sense of pushing things beyond their limits, the undiscovered boundaries kept us in a state of wonder – who would fall first, who would stop first? Keep skating until one’s legs give way. Keep drinking until you can’t stomach any more. These seemed to be the unspoken mantras that the group unanimously shared.
These guys were unnaturally calm and candid in front of the camera. Completely indifferent to its existence. It made photographing the project one of the easiest things I’ve done. The project took me through fields that ran along empty beaches, abandoned houses in deserted seaside towns and trespassing through run-down piers, all the time dreaming of doing more.
The Australian sun in midsummer would beat down with such intensity and heat, it made sweat pour from our foreheads, stinging our eyes and staining our shirts.
Previous to Salad Days, I completed a photography project which aimed to document the different neighborhoods within Manhattan in a street photography style. It covered the southern tip right up to Washington Heights. I’ll never forget the amount of times I’d been yelled at, heckled at, little old grandmothers throwing empty soda cans at me in Chinatown, to a group of guys that stopped playing a basketball to intimidate me. That project helped to develop me as a street photographer, it built a stronger sense of confidence and self-assuredness that what I was doing was worth it, that I should push for the image I wanted to capture.
It’s safe to say that I’m addicted to black and white film photography. 35mm is still reasonably enough priced to make it affordable and as long as it stays that way I’ll be prioritising it over digital. I find shooting 35mm film offers a strange sense of reward. It’s like writing a letter to yourself and locking it away for a few years before reading it.
You find a strong sense of nostalgia because you haven’t had the immediacy of reviewing one’s work like with digital. The shots get locked up and hidden away until you get the scans back. Opening up the files is akin to being a child on Christmas day opening up gifts stacked under the tree.
You still never really know what you’re going to get.
Thanks for reading.
~ James Grundy
More about this project
“BEER, CIGARETTES, TATTOOS AND SCARS. These are the life-bloods of a disheveled youth who wake, one foot in bed, the other on a board. Footpaths sound a rhythmic chink like a freight train coasting into the night. Stoic expressions and taciturn skate sessions – this is their rich tapestry. The skate culture in rural Australia has a strong sense of identity and camaraderie.
Empty fuel tank, skateboards in the back and the last drops of beer drained from the bottle, evening shadows edge across the park, content on another misadventure. Their tendency is to push the body and mind past limits, exploring new ground – this is where they find enjoyment. Insanity lurks around the corner. Beer temporarily unhooks the leash. Professional misbehavers while a dreary town sleeps.
A heightened sense of urgency, the time is now – let me have at it, damn it! Onlookers erupt, adrenaline blasts through the body in an electrified twitch for more. Dopamine and serotonin flood the veins. Do you blame them?
Quiet rural towns offer little in the form of entertainment, a poor man’s sanctuary for those who have the sickening passion to live. Still, the show must go on. And what a time it is to be alive.
THIS IS SALAD DAYS.
Additional photography from this project can be found at: http://www.james-grundy.com/salad-days.
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