"But we wouldn't queue for the phone..."

This is one of the few times a photo replicated - exactly - what I had envisaged.
In 1991 I was sent out west on assignment for the Courier Mail newspaper. The story was that the town of Middleton, located in the middle of Queensland and consisting one building - the pub - and with a population that varied between 4 and 6, was going to be getting its first phone, a solar-powered payphone (up until then, they only had two way radio).
Myself and the journo were being to accompany a team of Telecom (now Telstra) technicians who were going to be ceremoniously 'throwing the switch'. We left Winton early one morning and, after a one-and-a-half hour drive, arrived. As I'd imagined, there was virtually nothing there. It was desolate...and hot! Even at 8.30am.
So, the photo I'd imagined was a line of people queuing at the phone box, silhouetted against the morning sun (I knew we were going to be there early).
After saying g'day to the two locals, I ran this idea past them. They looked at me like I was an alien and their response - "But we wouldn't queue for the phone, mate. There's no one here. We wouldn't need to..." - wasn't what I was hoping for. After much cajoling, I finally talked them into standing in the phone box with the Telecom technicians queued outside.
The two locals still didn't know why I was doing this and continued the "you're an alien" looks as they made their way to the phone box and I positioned the technicians.
With that I ran to where I was going to take the photo, got down as low as I could, and fired off a few frames. The sun was still low enough that it snuck into the top of the frame and what I could see looked exactly as I'd imagined it. And I love the fact one of the Telecom guys, without me telling him to do so, put his hand up to his hat, giving the photo a real country feel about it.

Gear used - Nikon FM2 camera, Nikkor 24mm f2.8 lens, HP5 B&W film (400 ISO)


  1. I love the way the sun looks like it's shining down on the phone box. Looks like a gift from above.

  2. I love the concept and execution. What a great idea. The grain of the photo and the light flares add to the whole atmosphere. What did you shoot this with?

  3. Hi Heiko,
    I'm 99% sure I shot it with a 24mm lens on a Nikon F4 body. And I'm pretty certain it was HP5 (400 ISO) B&W film, which had a tendency to go grainy at times.
    It was a very long time ago but it remains one of my favourite photos.
    Thanks for your comment.

  4. I love this, it's so beautifully printed too. So much space and light, it evokes the outback so much to me.

  5. Thanks fotojo. Even after all these years, it's still a favourite of mine - as much for all those reasons you mentioned as anything.