To know Chris Cincotta’s photography is to love it. His images, which he sells from his little kiosk on Swanston Street, celebrate Melbourne with eye-catching colour, light and line. His second beautiful hardcover book, 24 Hours in the Life of Melbourne, captures scenes of a city shot over one epic day from a slightly overcast start at Flinders Street Station, to a golden sunrise overlooking Melbourne’s sports precinct.
We sat down with Chris and asked him to give us the story behind five photogenic places featured in his new book. As you’ll see, they’re well worth checking out. Read more about his story in 24 Hours in Melbourne – the book.
Clementine’s is one of the best shops in town for quality gifts and souvenirs made in Melbourne and Victoria. As owner Melanie Ashe tells Chris in his book, she ‘felt like local produce and local products were a dying art.’
This little boutique on Degraves Street has been instrumental in changing that, giving many local artists, designers and creators an outlet. People like Chris. He says that Melanie ‘was one of the first people who embraced me.’
He recalls how he walked into her shop and said: ‘Hi, I’m trying to be a photographer. I’ve taken some photos. I think they have some selling potential – would you mind having a look at them?’ Melanie did take a look, and was convinced by the final photo: the iconic Vespa outside her shop.
Chris took a photo of the city’s tallest building at 12.57pm. Eight hours later he was up on the Eureka Skydeck 88 for a night shot featuring the Arts Centre Melbourne spire and MCG. The Skydeck’s panoramic views make it popular with visitors, but the author-photographer says it’s a must for everyone. He also captured the Eureka 89 restaurant, where the city is laid out before you through floor-to-ceiling windows.
‘The history behind Eureka Tower is really fantastic,’ but according to Chris, not many people know it. He explains in his book that its main design features on the facade are inspired by the 1854 gold miners’ rebellion, the Eureka Stockade. Gold-plated windows represent the gold rush, while the vertical red stripe recalls the blood spilt during the rebellion. The glass is mostly blue, referencing the miners’ flag, and the white stripes are a reminder of mining surveyors’ measuring staffs.
Royal Exhibition Building
This magnificent Victorian-era building almost didn’t make it into the book. The photo was taken spontaneously, ‘as I was driving past,’ says Chris. Later, after going through his pictures, he looked into the Royal Exhibition Building’s history.
He discovered facts that amazed him: it was Australia’s first UNESCO World Heritage listed building, hosted World’s Fairs twice in the 1880s and Australia’s first Parliament in 1901, as well as several events for the 1956 Olympics. And it’s still well used by big events including design markets and festivals. There are daily tours.
Section 8 Bar
One of the book’s most colourful photos reveals Section 8 Bar, which is ‘our funkiest bar, for sure,’ according to Chris. ‘If someone wants to go and have a really Melbourne experience and a drink … go there.’
In what had been a parking lot, this alfresco laneway watering hole in Tattersalls Lane opened in 2007 with a back-to-basics attitude. There’s a shipping-container bar, wooden pallets for seating, potted plants, colourful party lights and an ever-changing gallery of street art. Add drinks and DJs and you’ve got a party.
Manchester Unity Building
‘I love the Manchester Unity Building,’ says Chris, who photographed it at 6.04am with trams passing like streaks of light. A classic example of streamlined Art Deco Gothic architecture, it was the tallest building in town when completed in 1932.
But his fascination with this site goes further back, when the Stewart Dawson Building stood in its place. ‘It was Melbourne’s “love corner”,’ explains Chris, where couples would agree to meet in the era long before impromptu rendezvous via Messenger.
Manchester Unity Building Tours include the grand wood-panelled boardroom and a close look at the spire from the rooftop. Tours begin with a meal in the ground-floor arcade’s 1932 Cafe and Restaurant. Another tenant with tasty treats is Switch Board, among the city’s tiniest cafes.
Pick up a copy of 24 Hours in the Life of Melbourne from Chris’s kiosk on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Street, Clementine’s, Hill of Content, Melbournalia or Dymocks at 234 Collins Street.