As soon as you walk into the former Eveleigh Rail Yards, you can feel the enthusiasm of the weekly Farmers Market. Locals bustle along the hall snapping up samples of fresh produce directly from local farmers. The energy is palpable, and it is precisely this energy that makes the Carriageworks Farmers Market such a treat to visit and photograph.
Remnants of history litter the market that was originally built over a century ago as a workshop for the construction and maintenance of some of Australia's finest railway carriages. Large pneumatic hammers tower in the hall and peeling paint exposes the rich brickwork on the walls which turn the delightfully dilapidated shed into a photographic goldmine. Well after the carriages constructed to transport passengers around the most populous state had run their wheels flat, the workshop closed, leaving the foundation for Carriageworks in its wake.
Carriageworks is a multi-disciplinary art venue located on the site. It is at the forefront of Australian contemporary theatre and as such is a cultural hub in Sydney. The Farmers Market attached under the great canopy of glass in the former Blacksmiths workshop has a strong focus on seasonal produce including organic and bio-dynamic foods from farmers and artisan producers from across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Each Saturday they collate over 70 different stalls to offer fresh, sustainable and ecological produce.
The market places a high value on the interaction between the farmer, chef or artisan producer and the customer, so as you stroll through the grand central column I highly suggest that you chat with the friendly traders as you nibble down some delicious mature cheddar, or suckle on some succulent cherries. They're all very passionate about their produce and always have a smile on their face.
It isn't just fresh produce that is sold at the market, there are wine merchants, cheese sellers, jam specialists, crafts and coffee carts, as well as a number of ready to eat stalls such as french crepes, bagels or hot pastries. The bakers have come out in full force too, making sure you go home having loosened your belt another notch. The beauty of the market is taking a bite to eat, sitting against the sun exposed Carriageworks wall on some makeshift tables made of milk crates, where you can face the market and people watch the day away.
I decided to keep things simple by only using my 50mm f/1.8 lens. The light weight of this lens was a relief and the compact size meant I wasn't overly conspicuous when shooting, a key in street photography, where I was looking for candid moments with authenticity. The markets, whilst having large glass roofing that provided a nice even soft diffusion of light, was still quite dark, so often I was shooting down at f/1.8, which I liked, as it gave me the ability to blur out the constant flow of foreground and background elements that were a distraction to my shot, whilst focusing on the actions and expression of my subject.
The hustle and bustle of the market provide endless opportunities for shooting and the preoccupation of the shoppers and traders means you are more likely to get candid images. Combine this with the colourful people who attend the market, the beautiful backdrop of the former Carrigeworks, and you have yourself a full day of shooting... If you have enough discipline to draw yourself away from all that food for long enough to focus.
The market is open every Saturday from 8am until 1pm with the exception of the New Year holidays. The last market for 2016 will be 17 December and will resume 14 January 2017. Seasonality is important when shopping at the markets. To find out what produce will be available this month, see the Carriageworks Farmers Market webpage
Author : Alexander J.E. Bradley
Alexander is the founder of Aperture Tours which run tours in Sydney and across the globe. A professional photographer for over a decade, Alexander enjoys shooting the surreal by mixing dreamlike qualities into his conceptual images.