When I arrived to photograph the house in Leura, the new residents were sipping champagne in the upstairs kitchen with the architect and the ever-jovial building company boss, my employer on this job.
Everything in the house was new. It had no curtains, no personal belongings. The owners had just been handed the keys and may not have felt the house belonged to them yet. That would come later, when the hustle and bustle had died down and they would have time to breathe and take it all in. But for now, by contrast to the empty rooms, there were people and action everywhere.
The downstairs garage floor was strewn with power tools, paint buckets, ladders. The radio was blasting 90s hits and sports commentary. The workers were busy packing up and making sure everything was in order before it was time to go and not come back anymore.
Later on, the friends of the new residents came in groups, walked from room to room, stopped to look at the empty walls, the uncovered floor, and to marvel at how much more there would be. And indeed there would be. The house was a huge two-storey building with spacious rooms and high ceilings. There was a lift between the first and second floor: the new residents from Sydney were starting their life in the Mountains in style.
Long after the boss and the architect had gone, and the workers had packed their bags and turned off the radio for the last time, I was still inside the house. I was capturing the final shots of the rooms with their views of the
Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters that loomed in the horizon like three fingers of a crippled colossus.
I was waiting for complete darkness. After the interior, I would still have the twilight exterior to photograph, my favourite part of the job.
I set up my camera and tripod in the sunken footpath at the front of the house, made sure I was happy with what I saw in the viewfinder and got ready to shoot.
It was a chilly winter night and I was wearing a T-shirt. My plan was to make a few dozen exposures of the same scene and on each exposure shine my flash on a different part of the house. Or the lawn. Or the brushes that flanked the fresh squares of turf. I would then combine these separate exposures in post-production and hope that I’d end up with a pretty stunning example of night architectural photography. So, cold or no cold, I had a job to do.
I finished the shoot, packed up my camera gear and walked upstairs to say good night to the new residents. They would now, finally, have a chance to enjoy their house without intruders.
As I was closing the door I heard the male occupant say to his wife, “Honey, where would you like to sleep tonight?”
In a house that size, I wouldn’t know either.