In case you hadn’t been paying attention, I love Melbourne’s markets. They are such brilliant community spaces that are so much more than about just shopping for food. In my previous blog about the Queen Victoria Summer Night Market, I talked about the amazing atmosphere and energy that was present at this seasonal event. This time, I want to talk more about a market experience that is very close to my heart and my home.
Whilst not as large as some of Melbourne’s produce markets, the Prahran Market offers quality and choice in such a broad and interesting range of food. I think it is the best market in Melbourne and it has been around forever. The market has existed since 1864 when the Prahran area began to boom as a result of the gold rush in Victoria. Add to this the population increase of inner city areas as Melbourne grew. The market previously existed on a different and much smaller site and was moved to its current location in 1891. So there is a lot of history here. A couple of years ago I entered one of my photos taken at the market into a competition as part of its 150th Anniversary event. I didn’t win but it was the first photography event of any kind I had ever taken part in. And they displayed my image along with many other great shots in the main market hall.
I moved into the Prahran area when I was 21 and was attending a design school. And I fell in love with the area. I was in a place that I could be free to express my artistic side. At the time Prahran had a very artistic community and feel to it. It was a little grungy but not intimidating. I had long hair and wore happy pants! True story. I met my beautiful Isobel not long after starting my course and we lived together in this part of Melbourne for 18 years before she passed away. I am still here now with our three children and don’t see any reason to move. This is our community.
The area and its main thoroughfare of Chapel Street have seen lots of transformation over that time but its key attributes have remained. We love the dynamics and energy of Prahran and its immediate neighbours in South Yarra and Windsor. The diversity here is such a mash-up. And everything is within walking distance. The market itself is a short walk from our family home. We frequented this amazing market when we were first a couple, when we had very young children and still today I will stroll down there with my camera and nana-trolley to grab some choice ingredients for a meal or BBQ. And of course now it is the perfect place for me to grab some candid street shots.
It can be a busy and bustling place. Especially on a Saturday or on the eve of a big event such as Australia Day or Christmas. This is a fresh produce market. The main cavernous space is taken up by fruit and vegetable sellers and the outskirts with a mix of stores selling home-made chocolates, fresh flowers, coffee beans, german sausages, ice-cream, nuts and of course good quality coffee to drink there and then. It has such a great hum. Extending off this is the delicatessen area with stores selling the most amazing cheeses, fresh pasta, olives, dips, cold meats, bread and an endless assortment of yummy treats.
Next is the hall where they sell all of the food that carnivores love. Butchers and fish mongers selling the most incredible cuts of flesh. For those that love to cook, then this is a must for your next masterpiece. And on the weekends many of the stores will have a BBQ running out the front for people to try the latest sausage recipe fresh off the grill. Last but not least is the market square. This outdoor space is ringed by cafe’s and food truck style stalls offering fresh meals and refreshments. This is a great public space to sit and let your children run around or visit the animal farm during the week or to meet friends for a meal or a coffee.
Nothing better than travelling around the market and buying a dip here, some olives there, a few hundred grams of mouth-watering ham or some fresh cooked prawns. Then some turkish bread and a few different cheeses. Grab yourself a spot outside in the market square where you can watch the kids being entertained by a musician or magician. And just chill and enjoy everything that the market has to offer.
If I am ever visiting the market I always bring my camera. On this occasion Fujifilm X-T2 combined with the XF 23mm F2 WR lens came along. This seems to be my go-to street kit now. I have mentioned this before but markets are fantastic venues for street photography. I love capturing a busy day here. And with this combination of the Fujifilm X-T2 and the new XF 23mm F2 lens, I don’t feel like I am sticking a camera in people’s faces. Especially when it is a busy day. The compactness of the combination allows for discretion as well as the ability to tuck it into my bag when I need to try some cheese or stroll for a bit with a coffee in hand. Or if I am feeling really cheeky, I will buy a tray of fresh oysters with salt and lemon to devour right there and then.
Some of the inside spaces of the market can be a little low lit. Not extreme but a photographer paints their image with light so it has to be considered. Fortunately I find the ISO capabilities of the Fujifilm X-T2 amazing. And its adaptability as you move from indoors to outdoors is so easy with the ISO dial sitting on top of the camera along with the shutter speed dial and the exposure compensation. A changing environment is no hindrance for this camera.
All of the photos in this particular collection were shot in RAW and later edited in Lightroom. In editing these images I used my much-loved Fujifilm Classic Chrome film simulation and on this occasion dulled down the contrast a bit more than I usually would. Just playing and manipulating the light for an interesting finish and look to my work. If you are ever in the area then I highly recommend you check out the Prahran Market. If you are shopping for an occasion, or the shopping is the occasion, then I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Happy shooting.