Shared House: An Image Essay By Charlie Brophy

By Samuel Leighton-Dore

Most of us will remember our first experience living in a sharehouse; the dishes slippery with grease; the cupboards lined with cheap packs of noodles and expired condiments; the milk-crates stacked with empty beer bottles. There’s a sleepy nostalgia encapsulated in the adolescent limbo of living alongside an interchangeable group of strangers, friends and lovers.

And it’s one captured beautifully in the below image essay by Melbourne-based freelance photographer Charlie Brophy.

There was a sense of youthful innocence in most of the sharehouses I entered from the age of 18. Each housemate enthusiastically explored new possibilities and ‘first times’, and I became obsessed with that freedom and lack of delegation, even though it was accompanied by smoky, rundown rooms and never-ending piles of washing.

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When the realisation clicked that perhaps our elders were right when they told us that growing up happens in the blink of an eye, I was determined to prolong the desire to climb trees ahead of making teas. It became my mission to document the adventures and shenanigans of sharehouse living through photography.

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Those closest to me, and interesting people I meet, are always my main photographic subjects. Sexuality, ambiguity, home and youth are themes I explore through this series – themes we could all identify with at some stage of our lives.

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A few years on, I have watched the characters in my photographs develop. Physical attributes such as facial hair and new tattoos are the obvious changes, but the real shifts lie in the mentality of these individuals. They are still as playful as my lens captured at the age of 18, but instead of killing time, they’re pursuing their own journeys.

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Kids are constantly asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question serves to remind us of the power to dream big, no matter what size we are.

This story was originally published on Archer Magazine and is shared here with full permission.

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