Take-Out Roast, The New York Restaurant, Kings Cross
Photograph by John Webber, 2010
When my photographer friend, John Webber, heard about the impending closure of the New York Restaurant, which I wrote about in a previous post, he grabbed his Canon camera and zipped over to the diner at 18 Kellett Street.
And I am so glad he did.
John Webber has lived in and around Kings Cross and Surry Hills for most of his adult life - if indeed he could be termed a "grown-up". He began his career in photography in the 1970s, shooting jewellery for magazines and advertisements and later took food shots for restaurant light-box displays (if you've ever seen a photograph of a Mr Whippy ice-cream, chances are John Webber took it).
In the 1980s he was employed as the staff photographer for Countdown magazine, which was a tie-in with the ABC TV music-program hosted by Molly Meldrum. During his years with Countdown, John Webber photographed hundreds of Australian and international musicians, including Hunters and Collectors, Mental As Anything, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Idol and Madonna.
As a result, he has dozens of stories to tell too.
In the 1990s he moved to Terraplanet publishing, based in Surry Hills, and worked across their titles, which included Australian Style, Monument, Juice and HQ. It was on Juice, a dedicated music magazine, that John Webber was able to express his creative side by each year shooting and printing a photo series for the Juice Annual.
The Juice Annual photos were heavily styled, quirky and published in punchy, vibrant colour. One such photo was of Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin in a 1950s kitchen. Luhrmann wore a dress and apron and was holding up a plate of lamingtons, while Martin, dressed as a little school boy, sat perched on the kitchen bench.
Other photos included musician Kylie Minogue sitting on the bonnet of a hoon-car eating watermelon, actor David Wenham in a strip-joint (shot at the original Dancers Cabaret), and my favourite Darlinghurst-based actor, Hugo Weaving, playing a game of pool.
All the pictures were shot on John Webber's medium-format Hasselblad and printed on his home colour-machine as large broad-sheet sized prints.
These days John Webber uses the much less expensive digital method, but as you can see in the following pictures the results are still fabulous, even though he considers them his ''spares'' (he's keeping the even better ones for himself).
John Webber is presently working on a project with writer Louis Nowra to document the Kings Cross area. If you would like to contact him about photography, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
He took these photographs on the last night of the New York Restaurant on Saturday October 2, 2010.