Alex Frayne is first and foremost a filmmaker but over the last few years, in between films, he has successfully expanded his practice to include still photography.
Alex Frayne is first and foremost a filmmaker but over the last few years, in between films, he has successfully expanded his practice to include still photography. “I think of each still as a film, with a story. The more story that ends up being in the picture the more people react to it,” says Frayne. His images of the western suburbs of Adelaide are cinematic and reminiscent of Jeffrey Smart’s iconic urban landscapes. Like Smart, Frayne’s focus is on the mundane, the familiar, the decayed – the noir. While searching for film locations around the Fleurieu Peninsula, Frayne began taking stills focusing on the unseen and the overlooked. His images stretch beyond the city, incorporating rural landscapes and were initially motivated by a desire to show a different side of South Australia to what was being portrayed in the media and in travel brochures. Frayne says: “I started taking shots of locations at night using long exposure – 30 seconds, one minute. I noticed that the subjects take on a completely different feel at night; the urban decay looks stunning.” Rather than capturing an event, Frayne’s photographs depict a hidden moment, as if something has already happened or is about to happen. There is both a tension and ease in these works, perhaps because of the familiar landscapes he portrays from a perspective we are unfamiliar with. For instance Frayne might find himself shooting in an empty supermarket car park late at night. “There is nothing there but you feel the after-effect of human activity. Two hours earlier there would have been cars everywhere,” he explains. “You feel that afterglow of the human condition or the human activity that has been there and if you can capture that, that’s when it translates into a story within a picture.” It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about Frayne’s photographs that draw the audience in but there is something that sets his images apart. Perhaps it’s that he approaches them from a film aesthetic or it’s the familiar scenes of Adelaide that strike a chord. Whatever it is, Frayne is now a name to look out for in the field of photography, as much as in film. Wakefield Press is releasing a 128-page book on his work titled Adelaide Noir. It will be launched at the SA Film Corporation on Thursday, November 6. fusionjazzer.com wakefieldpress.com.au Image credits: Alex Frayne, Marion Council Building, 2012; Alex Frayne, Room 56, 2012