For the past few years, I have been going to Sideshow Alley at the Perth Royal Show, taking pictures of the people working the ticket booths at night. It's a strange kind of existence, being caged in a box, taking money, handing out tickets, and dealing with all manner of people. On some nights, I've approached the people to talk to them, find out where they're from, and how they got to be sitting where they are. Some seem to enjoy the conversation; others refuse to engage at all. Sometimes, I've simply watched from a short distance away before taking the picture. The results are very, very different.
At first glance, it's a somewhat amusing photo. She's just one of many shrunken, decapitated heads in the booth. She fits right in with the uninspired attempts at decoration. Whoever put them them up had about as much heart in it as she does working there... but there's more to it than that.
In a space like this, people choose how much of themselves they are willing to reveal and this image captured this idea really well. You can see the woman; she is absolutely aware that we are there and she isn't hiding or shying away. In the same way that the window separates her from us, she has her own barriers that keep us from knowing more about her than she is willing to reveal... but despite that, there is a gap, a tiny space where we can glean something real about her. She is, after all, just like us. She's sitting down, tired, but patient; tolerant of us, of the crowds, of the people who want to buy tickets. She's just doing what she always does to get through the night. But once she's done, she will go through the door behind her and leave all this behind. She will lower the shields, drop the barriers, and become herself again... but just like the darkness beyond the door, who that person is, is not revealed to us.
"$8 per Rider"
The PCP Iris Award Winner 2012
Thanks again to the Perth Centre for Photography and the judges for the award.