Photographer Jesse Booher explains how he captured the eclectic Booktown Festival in Clunes, small-town Victoria, as part of Australian Traveller’s 2013 Bucket List edition.
Q: What was your favourite image of the event?
The one I felt best portrays Booktown visually would be the one with the couple with their toddler in the stroller. It seemed to typify Booktown’s relaxed and inclusive atmosphere. People seemed to be very laid back while looking through the available books and the kids were happy to run amok.
I also like the photo with the Book Grocer’s sign in the foreground showing how wide the main street was, how nice and sunny the winters’ day was, and how easy going the setting was.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of photographing an event like Booktown?
The challenge with photographing Booktown was whether to shoot as a ‘fly on the wall’ or to stage photos, to gather people together and “say cheese”.
I felt I had most success with keeping things natural with the “fly on the wall” approach. Booktown was nothing like the the front row of a Big Day Out concert or a once in a lifetime celebration like wedding. It was nice to leave the people to their exploring and watch them unobserved.
Q: What is the most quirky event you have photographed (besides Booktown. of course)?
The quirkiest event that I’ve shot, if indeed quirky is the term for it, was that of New Orleans Bounce/Hip-Hop artist Big Freedia. The music, dancing, and crowd were all very different to the concert norm.
Q: Would love to get a few comments about what was happening in some of the photographs.
Girl in the hay: The girl was playing in the maze with a few other kids and her eye probably caught sight of my camera and lens. The lens was quite long so it makes it look like I was a lot closer and more involved with the subject. The golden hue of the hay in the photo reflected the feel of the sunny winter day.
The juggler: The juggler was the first local character I encountered. He gained the attention of all those within earshot with his put on french accent, his butchers outfit, his handful of knives and promises of crazy feats. Just like the Punch & Judy show and the Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, the knife juggling French man was another attraction to keep the kids excited and happy.
The Punch & Judy show: I am unfamiliar with The Punch and Judy Show except for the expression “pleased as Punch” but the puppet show attracted lots of kids and the puppeteer’s voices made them all laugh.
The smoky landscape above Daylesford: This photo was from taken from Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens overlooking Daylesford. The colours were typical of the landscape from Daylesford to Creswick to Clunes.
Q: What was your lasting impression of Booktown?
A weekend at Booktown would be a good family holiday not just for those who like books. The country atmosphere is invigorating and refreshing, and there’s plenty to keep kids happy and wear them out for bedtime giving mum and dad some time to themselves.