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What makes a space a place

Adorning the remote coastline of midwest Western Australia are numerous shacks. The use of the shacks is often the center of controversy as the living arrangements are an entitlement of a professional fishing license. Over time fewer and fewer fishing professionals are using these shacks and local councils have been stirred to remove them, but have been met with local push back from community associations on heritage grounds. So the shacks and their people have become icons of a traditional and unique lifestyle. This series depicts some of the characters that make use of the shacks and shows their connection to their dwelling and how they influence each other.

The images address how people have constructed, furnished and made a livable space by the coast. How they have influenced their surroundings to accommodate their lifestyle, and how their environment has influenced them. All the shacks are totally off grid and have a high level of sustainability. The effort that has been put into their creation often spans over lifetimes, anchoring peoples identity. To see them as temporary can be heartbreaking.
If they can't live here, then where?

James Simmons
Jane Liddon

Jane Liddon, Post Office Island matriarch, Jet Boat crayfishing pioneer, Pearl farmer, Jeweller and Artist in front of her shack.
Image shot on Canon EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM T f8, ISO100 – 1.3sec


Jane inspecting how the glue has dried on some pearl earrings she is making in here art studio.
Image shot on Canon EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f14, ISO 100 – 1/60


Jane sorts out the Oyster Bags. Clearing the panels of shell growth is done by smashing it away with a wooden mallet.
Image shot on Canon EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f8 ISO100 – 1/250
Alan Mitchell

Part time resident in the Cliff Head Camp, Alan sharpens the pencil in his humble bathroom.
Image shot on Canon EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f8, ISO 400 – 1sec


Alan on the porch of one of the few remaining shacks at Cliff Head.
Image shot on EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f8, ISO 200 – 92sec


Alan’s Kitchen, which he doesn’t use any more, as he prefers his open air set up, so he can feed mealworms to the local Willy Wagtails.
Image shot on EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f11, ISO 400 – 1/8sec


While the camps are isolated, there is a small community which can be just enough for some people.
Image shot on EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f11, ISO 400 – 1/6
Kevin Collins

Kevin is a 77 year old Grandfather, proud racehorse owner, Broom racetrack grounds keeper, professional fisher and occupant of a Camp at Knobby Head on the Midwest coastline of WA. Image depicts Kev enjoying the sunset in his “Humpy” where he processes the catch each morning. The old ironing board is the fileting table great for it’s non-slip surface.
Image shot on Canon EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f8, ISO 400 – 1sec


Kev stands at entrance of his shack, where he has engineered a leading fence line to keep the sand from blowing inside.
Image shot on Canon EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f16, ISO 100 – 62sec


Every day Kev makes to journey to a water bore and pumps a tank of water for his garden. He manages to keep some grass and a few gumtrees alive in beach sand.
Image Shot on Canon EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f16, ISO 100 – 30sec


Kevin proudly displays his racehorse achievements and his professional fishing licence on his kitchen wall. His shack was built in the 80’s and he took it over in a state of ruin. He repaired it to a liveable state and continues to maintain and improve the functionality of the off grid structure every day. Since this photo was made, he built a new insulated roof over this room.
Image shot on EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f16 – ISO 400 – 1/13
Jesse Liddon, Michela Boriotti and son Leo

Jesse, Michela and son Leo relaxing at their shack on Post Office Island in the Southern group of the Abrolhos Islands after a hard day of work setting up for their exclusive Island event.
Image shot on EOS R5 & RF 15-35mm F2.8 IS USM at f16 – ISO 100 – 5sec

A behind the scenes look at Coastal – If Not Here, Then Where?
Coastal – If Not Here, Then Where? by James Simmons
How James used his camera to connect
A combination of the Canon EOS R5, RF lenses and the EOS C70 allowed James to connect with his subjects in an intimate and non intimating way, resulting in a series of unique and interesting portraits. James also experimented with his old EOS 3 35mm film SLR for some of the location shots to give a nostalgic feel.
Canon Ambassador James Simmons - Coastal – If Not Here, Then Where? Gallery
“Being able to shoot a series that is connected to a childhood fascination with the coastline has been immensely rewarding. Documenting a slice of history from an area I grew up in and being able to share it with the world is very satisfying and hopefully the work will be meaningful to the area and community. The Canon ambassador program has afforded me the opportunity to take on the project and helped push me out of my comfort zone to find the characters to work with. For that I’ll be forever grateful.”

James Simmons

The Canon Gear James is Using


 

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