As much as I love gathering together with family, I was ready for a break from tradition this Christmas. Tired of sitting around eating and not doing much else on Christmas Day, I decided to accept Mission Australia’s request for volunteer photography services to cover their Christmas Lunch in the Park in Perth. This is a huge event that is well received every year, and involves a traditional Christmas lunch, loads of entertainment, and presents from Santa for everyone. It’s all free and open to anyone who may want to come along to celebrate together on Christmas Day.
As I was rushing around taking photos it almost felt like any other job – business as usual, running around ensuring I captured as much as possible, including the Governor and his wife and daughter’s visit, and local Member for Vincent Alannah MacTiernan helping guests find their seats. When I wasn’t running around capturing the action I would stand in one spot and just look and wait for a special moment – someone’s eyes lighting up as they were presented with their Christmas turkey, a child’s sudden excitement at seeing Santa or their wide-eyed stare as bubbles appeared from a fairy’s wand and floated across the air in front of them. Wherever there are kids, families or friendship involved – in other words, love – there is an added magic to capture in the photographing of an event.
It was in those moments that I realised it wasn’t just any other job, and I was privileged to be involved in a way that helped the charity but also allowed me to stand apart and observe the magic unfolding. People from every cultural background, every age group and I can only imagine carrying every background story you can think of, coming together in joy and at peace. It sounds like a cliché as I write it but if you were there, you’ll know what I mean.
The other thing that struck me was the amount of volunteers – all kinds of people helping in all kinds of ways, not just businesses like mine but individuals too. I guess like me they were looking for a more meaningful experience on Christmas Day, or maybe they’ve been helping out for years and it’s just what they do. The best thing was that everyone was having fun doing their job, everyone had a smile… you can’t say that about everyone in their normal (paid!) working lives!
I feel thankful to Mission Australia for inviting me to share in a magical event, and to my amazing volunteer assistants who worked alongside me throughout the day… but mostly I’m thankful to the wonderful people who allowed me to capture their involvement in celebrating Christmas – it really is a privilege to be able to record people’s hearts with a camera, in their expressions and in their actions.