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Simple Pleasure Photo Competition

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

While reading out the Community Service Announcements on my radio show last month, I came upon a call out for entries in a photography competition run by the Brunswick Heads Information Centre. The deadline for this hyper local annual event was in three days time so I decided to shake a leg and get involved.

Now, I'm certainly not a professional photographer but I do have a pretty cool camera - a Sony Alpha 7 series 2 - which I mainly use to shoot footage. I resolved to dust it off and take some snaps responding to the competition's theme - 'My Bruns'.

First stop, my favourite coffee depot 'Rosefina's', run by the delightful Josie Richardson and her partner Mal. Josie grew up in nearby Mullumbimby, where I now live, and always has a welcoming smile for sandy customers frequenting her outdoor cafe, located just opposite the beach past the Brunswick River footbridge. Operating out of a converted caravan, the team serves up great coffee, yummy toasties, breakfast burritos, fresh croissants, healthy smoothies and pulled pork tacos on the weekend. It's open every day and only closes, as the sign says, "in miserable wet weather". This wasn't one of those days.

I ordered up big and sat myself down on one of the stools in the garden. When Josie delivered my meal I asked her if I could snap some pics of her on the job. Being a photographer herself in a former life she happily agreed. I took three.

Nell Schofield's entry into the Brunswick Heads Photography Competition 2023
'Josie' at work at her Brunswick Heads cafe 'Rosefina's'

I also took a photo of a saffron-robed homeless man who was tidying up the pandanus leaves around the cafe, placing them in neat piles nearby. One of the many people with no fixed address who live in vans and tents around the beach, 'Raymond' represents another aspect of the town that I thought would resonate with the theme of the Simple Pleasure Photo Competition.

Back at home, I re-read the entry guidelines more closely. They required consent forms to be signed by all subjects. I would have to print them out, go back down to the beach and get permission from these guys who may have already closed up shop or worse, moved on.

You know that moment when you think, "Is it really worth it? Perhaps I should just give up while I'm ahead?". I was in just this sort of push-me pull-you position. Being a Gemini only made it worse.

Eventually I managed to rally myself and headed back to Bruns with the requisite forms. Josie was just about to leave for the day but I caught her in time to give me her sign off. Then I searched around the campervans for Raymond. I finally found him asleep under one of his beloved pandanus trees. Could I really be so cruel as to wake him? I did, with pen in hand. And, as he groggily signed the form, I promised that I'd give him the prize money if I won. "Oh, I'm not worried about that", he said and went back to his afternoon slumber.

People with no fixed address like Raymond live in vans and tents around the beach and its carpark
'Raymond' - one of the many homeless people at Brunswick Heads

It wasn't the prize money that motivated me either. It was the opportunity to be involved in an event that celebrated one of the most adorable, unspoilt seaside towns on the east coast of NSW, one that I am fortunate enough to engage with almost daily - surfing, walking my dog, and dining out in one of the many delicious eateries.

The other day I was informed that my photo of 'Josie' was one of the finalists, and the only portrait to be featured in the line up. I broke the news to Josie and she was chuffed. She wrote back saying, "I love that photo of me, it’s one of the best I have of me in the van and such a lovely snapshot for me to look back on years to come."

All the photographic entries, including the one of 'Raymond', are currently on display in various participating venues around the town in an effort to stimulate a deeper appreciation of the place. Whatever the result, it's rewarding to know that being spontaneous and making an effort when an opportunity presents itself can yield encouraging results. My camera is now poised, ready to document more frames of the ever-changing world around us.


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