#1030. Being a photographic Flaneur in your own home town

By Dallas Thomas | Travel Photography

Aug 10

I regard myself as a Flâneur

Sydney University also void of students

Google tells us that a Flâneur is a French noun referring to a person, literally meaning ‘stroller’, ‘lounger’, ‘saunterer’, or ‘loafer’, but with some nuanced additional meanings. Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations. A near-synonym of the noun is boulevardier.

Little Paris in Sydney
George Street, with the newly returned light rail (trams), Sydney
The Strand Arcade

Unable to travel out of our bubble at present has lead me to be become a flâneur in a city that I have lived and worked for the past 44 years.

PWC Building
Four Seasons Hotel
Queen Victoria Building
Queen Victoria Building
The Rocks
Sydney University
Business Prescient, Barangaroo
Queen Victoria Building

Of course I should include some postcard shots of Sydney, some recognisable, others not.

Anzac Bridge
Near Sydney Olympic park
SS Airfield near Sydney Olympic park
Bare Island, La Perouse

Places in the past I would have classed as not photogenic have all of sudden become of interest. It shows me what I have been blind to in the past. The moral of this small article is don’t underestimate your own doorstep.


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  • I agree with the moral of this story more than I can say. Sometimes we grow so accustomed to looking at things that we fail to see them. Since I haven’t been able to get out much for the last two months I have learned to see more when I do get out. I always carry my camera but instead of looking for that one mind-blowing show I now photograph everything of interest. I want to be able to remember the things I saw when I can no longer get out at all.

    • Cliff, “The Art of Seeing” is something I’ve tried to improve at over the years I’m hopeful it will continue.

      Many thanks for your comments


  • John W says:

    Learning to be a tourist in your own town is an eye-opening experience. There’s so much of own own backyard that we don’t notice or simply never “see”. That’s why I came up with the concept of the “Backyard Gem” – that un-noticed, exquisite little piece of beauty that been sitting right beside us all along. There isn’t an image here that I would not be willing to claim as my own … but, alas they are not. If and when sanity ever breaks out in the world again, maybe I’ll get to Sydney and see some of your backyard.

    Beautifully done!!!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Can’t imagine why you travel so much, when you have so many things to capture right there, at your back door!

    My “pick” is the shot of Anzac Bridge – possibly because the last time I was in Sydney was in the 1980s and, of course, that was before this bridge was built. But also because I love night shots – and this one is the stuff that dreams are made of!

    • Pete, Travelling is something Anne & I both enjoy and plan to do as long as our health allows. It also allows me to explore new areas to shoot. Sydney will always be here to meander around. Many thanks for your ANZAC Bridge comment, it got the nod from Philippe also.


      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Janie and I want to keep travelling too, till we drop. Right now, though, any travel might very well MAKE us drop!
        So she’s just given me a new macro lens to add to my collection – I can travel around the garden, instead.

        • Pete, you will love the macro, try stacking images it is fun and provides mega detail.


          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            Thanks Dallas – I’ve had a Zerene stacker for ages. Shot over a hundred photos for a catalogue of jewellery a couple of years back – the mega detail you mentioned almost backfired, the shots showed up even the most minute flaw!

            It’s great with things like flowers, that are stationary – although when I showed my orchid photos to buddies in America, I received some rather tacky, tasteless comment! They need to read more widely!

            It’s not practical, of course, with things like frogs or lizards or insects – they move too often.

            And with Janie away for 2 weeks from tomorrow, I can get back stuck into my monster panorama, and various seaside shots. Busy busy while she’s away! Starting on Sunday with a shot I’ve been planning, using my w/angle tilt shift.

            She’s doing travel – I’ll be doing “un-travel”, all the local stuff most people seem to ignore. Can’t think why – what I CAN think, is that you really DO have to do a bit of thinking, when there’s nothing leaping out at you because you live with it all, and you’ve seen it all before, and you DON’T usually think about it. Till you decide to chuck yourself in at the deep end, with one specification – something really interesting!

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    It’s true that one can become blind to the photogenic wonders in
    one’s hometown. Thanks for inspiring us to give our surroundings a closer look and to spend some time strolling to find the often hidden gems. Lovely images, Dallas! Thanks for sharing.

  • philberphoto says:

    What can I say that hasn’t been said already? Super subject, super shots… Congrats, Dallas! My feeling though is that there is more than one dimension to this. For sure, as so aptly demonstrated, keeping our minds fresh and eyes open in our own backyards. But also the will to visit, and revisit, and visit yet again subjects that we’ve already shot. I had started down that road already when confinement forced me to explore less than 1m²/day of subject material. And it was there to be found and harvested, none of which I’d have shot under “other circumstances”. My guess at this point is that we are merely scraping the suface and picking the low-lying fruit. How to dig deeper?

    • Philippe, many thanks for your kind comments. Revisiting a familiar place with renewed vigour and fresh eyes can yield new material. My takeaway is don’t overlook what you consider to be normal. Retired bankers sometimes can see beyond debts and credits.


    • John W says:

      Phil – I don’t know if you are familiar with the name or work of Freeman Patterson. He’s an icon of Canadian photography and a wonderful teacher. I learned the camera movement technique from him in one of his workshops. One of his standard teaching exercises is to take 10 steps in any direction from your front door and start shooting what you see. Another is to confine yourself to a limited space (mine was the a parking space in the loading dock of a warehouse) for half an hour and photograph what you see. A strange thing happens – you start out generalized and unfocused, but gradually your sense of vision becomes narrower and narrower and details that you never noticed begin to emerge … you begin to “SEE”.

      • Job says:

        It might actually be quite interesting to try that exercise (taking 10 steps from one’s front door), and find out if all places are created equal. If that’d become a challenge, I might even participate 🙂 Don’t expect too much, though. It’d be a total mess in my case.

        • pascaljappy says:

          Deal! And an excellent idea 🙂 After the RAW challenge, in September, let’s do that! A mess can lead to a great photograph 🙂 Cheers and thanks for the idea !!

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