Thirty-five degrees Celsius – that’s pretty warm. Forty-two degrees Celsius – that’s about my limit. I thought so anyway. Between February and August in 2007, that all changed. In February I moved cities, from Melbourne to Doha. It might as well have been to a different world.
A city’s form should match and follow it’s environment. Melbourne is full of nooks, crannies, warm fireplaces and cosy cafes. Melbourne winters are cold, damp and legendarily long. As a city, we’ve adapted to meet the challenges of our environment. When Perth, Adelaide and Sydney were at the beach – we were perfecting our espresso, our wine bars, our heavy coats, our complaining about the rain. Our buildings are edifices of grey, our fashion a shade darker. In winter, our photographs are all low angled light, reflections off rainy surfaces. In summer, low angled light, festivals, colour and flesh. Melbourne is (can be) as cosy, refreshing, hot, grey and yellow as you want. As the season demands. It’s rarely white (I begin to wonder though, why so many of my Melbourne photographs are in black and white).
Landing in Doha was a shock. It was “winter”and twenty-five degrees Celsius. What was to come? Doha perplexed me. Our modern view of the capital of Qatar is of steel, glass and concrete sky-scrapers overlooking the water. Doha (as I knew it) is all low rise, cream-white buildings of concrete and earth, and construction. Always construction. Tiny nooks, narrow streets and broad, flowing boulevards work together to funnel the day’s traffic slowly around the roundabouts. It is an indoor society and nocturnal – partly influenced by culture, partly by the weather. By summer, the legendary shamals were blowing in off the Persian desert and Gulf, bringing with them fifty or more degrees of heat and eighty per cent or more humidity. My photographs of Doha are of nights, indoors, desert haze, construction and blinding white light.
See more work by Dan on his blog