Humans of Western Australia.
Stuart approached this elderly woman on her way to see Dame Myra Hess perform at His Majesty's Theatre. When he asked her what Dame Hess meant to her she said “I’m 93 and it reminds me of a time in World War Two when I was building parts for the Lancaster Bomber. We were on night shift and while we worked they would bomb the factories so we worked in darkness. We had ropes to guide us down the roads in case we got lost. It's a long time ago now but this music....well....it makes me feel closer to my husband.”
It got us thinking that everyone has a story to tell and the most innocuous looking people often have struggles or a story that no one knows about. What is so wonderful about what Stuart does is he takes the time to stop and make people feel special, noticed even. People open up to him and share the most amazing, funny, heartwarming and sometimes confronting and deeply sad stories from their life.
"I'm smiling right now because right now, in this moment, I paused and realised how happy I am."
"I'm from Pakistan, we came here for our children, keep them safe you see?."
"Can I ask why you left Pakistan?"
"The terrorists, too dangerous there. My Uncle ... they ... well ... explosions."
(Stuart behind the scenes)
Stuart himself was driven to start Humans of Western Australia by the sudden death of a close friend, Luke. Ironically Stuart does not have any photos with Luke and other best mate Matt because they were always too busy 'having fun'. This project pays homage to the incredible person Luke was. Stuart says that he picks people he thinks Luke would have liked to have known more about and takes that moment to talk to them about their life. What we noticed was how people reacted to Stuart as he shoots them. Letting a stranger take your portrait is intimidating and brave; but those being photographed seemed to open up and share a moment of pure honesty with someone they hardly knew.
"I'm repping the old school Nintendo!"
If there is anything to take away from this project we think it is to be kind and take the time to speak to people. We are so guilty of rushing around and not taking any time to listen properly but when you stop make the effort the results can be magical.
"That's awesome! How did you two meet?"
"In a mosh pit, it was hectic! haha!"
"How long have you been doing it for?"
"11 Years today!"
"Wow! Congratulations! Do you enjoy doing what you do?"
"Yeah matey, I love it. I get to see lots of people, wave to the children. I keep my gloves on though, I'm missing my forefinger so I don't want to scare them haha"
"What's do you love most about your job?"
"Well, I think if you're going to do a job, do it well, no matter what you do. I'm pretty fussy. I like my city to look clean. I care about the bins. Even if someone comes and puts a ciggie out on the bin I just cleaned ... that's ok ... because I left it spotless and that's the pride in my work showing."
"What do you least like about your job?"
"I guess ... I get more compliments from foreigners about how good the place looks than my bosses give me. The bosses just tell me to stop being so fussy about things ... I don't listen I just do my job. Wave at the kids ... 11 years here now a lot has changed."
"Wait so let me get this straight - you get more compliments of keeping our malls and city clean from visitors to Perth than your bosses at the City of Perth?"
"Yep that's about right matey. Doesn't bother me much though. I just do my job ... get on with it. The bins don't empty themselves!"