Street photographer Alex Frayne’s new collection Overseers of the Streets focuses on those doing it rough, shining a light on the forgotten or the ignored.
The images that form Frayne’s Overseers of the Streets series emerged from his latest book, Theatre of Life, a collection of street portraits by Frayne, which was released last year by Wakefield Press and followed his book of landscapes, Adelaide Noir.
“In the first half of 2017 I experienced a very creative spurt,” Frayne says. “I was constantly seeking subject material for portraits in the same places that I had earlier shot my industrial landscapes. Those earlier images had depicted factories, carparks and housing, I now wanted to photograph the people that inhabited that landscape.”
This led him to capture people doing it rough throughout the city.
“The images were noticed by Eileen Darley who is heavily involved with the Anti-Poverty Network and whom I have known as an actor for many years,” Frayne says. “She works tirelessly for their cause, which at the moment concerns (among other things) the raising of the Newstart allowance. An entire campaign is now underway to achieve that goal, and I have willingly licensed my images, free-of-charge, to the group for their fundraising purposes.”
Alex Frayne – Sunny
The campaign includes a music video for the song It’s Time to Raise Newstart, which features a 60-person choir and is a rework of Gough Whitlam’s 1972 election theme song. A selection of Frayne’s photographs feature in the video. Frayne wants the viewer to be aware of a “world that exists right now” with his Overseers of the Streets series, as he notices that many people’s heads are buried in their phones when he roams the streets and suburbs as part of his work.
“It’s so bad that I have to constantly watch out that these morons don’t run into me and my precious cameras; they’re like un-moored boats, they’re a real traffic hazard,” he says. “I can’t change their habits and addiction, but I do run a very popular Facebook page of my work. So I figure that I might as well post confronting images of homeless people, which will appear on the various ‘feeds’ that wholly consume them in this screen nether-world; so that maybe, just maybe, members of the public get some insight into a world that exists right now and has existed for thousands of years and will exist when we’re all dead. And that is the world of a person who is in constant, enduring, relentless pain often due to no fault of their own.”
One of Frayne’s images – of Royce Wells who owns the infamous House of Psychedelia – has made a significant impact, as a successful campaign to keep Wells in his house was launched off the back of one of Frayne’s photos.
“I’m chuffed that a single image I took of Royce has led to a major community push along with crowd-funding and worldwide awareness,” he says. “He now has running water and I’d say that the initial problem he had of eviction and demolition is off the agenda. He’ll be there forever, which is a great outcome and shows the zeitgeist power of stills photography to change people’s worlds.”
Frayne hopes to release a new book of portraits that features some images from Overseers of the Streets once his latest book Theatre of Life sells out.