If you’ve grown up in Sydney, you know how easy it can be to lose track of what a magnetic place it really is. When you’re stuck in an overlong traffic jam or dodging busy commuters, it can be tricky to see the city’s harbourside antics as anything other than the same old urban groove.
That is until a photographer like 35 year-old Patrick Clelland comes along. Shedding light on a quieter and more intimate side of urban life, Patrick’s semi-reclusive photography feels like peeking behind the curtain to a city that’s been there all along if you were looking hard enough.
It was around 10 years ago when Patrick first began his photography career, debuting with a Nikon Coolpix L110 before further refining his skills in the last five years. Scrolling through his portfolio, it should come as a no-brainer that Patrick is a born-and-bred Sydneysider, with an eye for the city’s ins-and-outs that is unmatched. But while you might expect to see a teeming crowd of urbanites, Patrick’s camera seems fixed on the not-so-distant, unpeopled corners of the big smoke. From an empty Asian eatery to a trafficless retail strip, Patrick’s frames scan the city in search of its slower, sleepier retreats.
“[I’m inspired by] quiet places.. empty places, and people paying no attention to me when I’m taking photos,” Patrick says.
These discrete slivers of inspiration are on full display in Patrick’s portfolio, which reads like a bystanders’ exercise in people-watching. Lit as if by the intimate yellow glow of an inner-city apartment, viewing Patrick’s work feels like hovering on the periphery of some bustling house party- not quite there but just close enough to enjoy all the fun. This keenness for life’s undisturbed corners has led Patrick to his fair share of vacant shoots. Well, mostly vacant.
“I’ve run into some interesting characters in abandoned buildings. One guy sat in a chair far away watching me shoot before I realised he was there…He was actually just there enjoying the peace and quiet of a big empty building,” Patrick says.
With a preference for empty bedrooms and secluded urban backstreets, it seems Patrick has a lot in common with this nameless building visitor. As he said himself, to observe Patrick’s work is to relish in the peace and quiet, even amongst the bustle of a concrete jungle.
Check out Patrick’s uber-intimate shots below, and head here to follow him on Instagram.