Salad Days Project

I shot this series on my trusty Canon AE-1 Program. It didn’t miss a beat. If you’re looking to get into film photography then I highly recommend that or checking out my list of the best film cameras.

Salad Days – 80 Pages of Australian Documentary Photography

Introduction by Grundazoid

BEER, CIGARETTES, TATTOOS AND SCARS. These are the life-bloods of a disheveled youth who wake, one foot in bed, the other on a board. Footpaths sound a rhythmic chink like a freight train coasting into the night. Stoic expressions and taciturn skate sessions – this is their rich tapestry. The skate culture in rural Australia has a strong sense of identity and camaraderie.

Empty fuel tank, skateboards in the back and the last drops of beer drained from the bottle, evening shadows edge across the park, content on another misadventure. Their tendency is to push the body and mind past limits, exploring new ground – this is where they find enjoyment. Insanity lurks around the corner. Beer temporarily unhooks the leash. Professional misbehavers while a dreary town sleeps.

A heightened sense of urgency, the time is now – let me have at it, damn it! Onlookers erupt, adrenaline blasts through the body in an electrified twitch for more. Dopamine and serotonin flood the veins. Do you blame them?

Quiet rural towns offer little in the form of entertainment, a poor man’s sanctuary for those who have the sickening passion to live. Still, the show must go on. And what a time it is to be alive.


Foreword by Michael Scalisi

There’s no cool like the cool of the participant observer, the one who watches from within, not masked by his belong, as much as trusted agent within a group. Fine photographic documentation is an expression of love for a person, a group of people, a way of life, a moment in time.  A finger snapping a shutter is a reductive of, “I care”.

James’ photographs are about the intimacy of youth, his own as much as they are about an honor of sorts from a spirited rank of mates who will each find their road and begin respective journeys through adulthood. Though the photographs are tangible proof of the fleeting moment, the subjects possess clarity, a keen awareness into this moment.  Jimmy referred to his youth in Australia as a mix of hard work ethic and what he calls the “indestructible phase” where an adrenaline rush drives him to, “not waste a moment.”

This unique collection of photographs and the fashion in which they were composed could not have happened in a future moment or a sliver of a minute earlier, for a truthful photograph has its precise time. The results are a riddle with no easy explanation. For within a stoic gaze into a photograph lies an answer to one’s identity, revealed in time, fast in the mind and deep in the heart, the “what we did” and “who we were” appears with a poetic humility that bows to the alter of youth.

Chop mused on the topic, “The less of it you have the more valuable it gets.”

Time is the mortar that sets a narrowing bond between mind and body. It breeds a poetic contrast from the sweat that fell fast off one’s young brow, hair streaming in the wind, spirit in overdrive while cutting a hard line through a hand built skate park.  Hally adds an amp of humor when he summed up youth as “An endless froth for getting wet and carving out of a bowl like a Christmas Turkey.”

To the outsider the images are a selective invitation to a hidden club. To those within, take a good look, this is your youth in pictures. James saw it happening, he lived it with you, instinctively gifting it to a future. It is both personal and public, as insider as “Vitamin B”, and yet somehow belonging to time for all to see.  The images, bound by silver salts on paper trigger the sounds and memories, wheels spinning, shouts, bonding, “feeding off your mate’s adrenaline” creating a cinematic dreamland that even the coolest amongst us will privately romanticize.

Perhaps Burgo summed it up most poetically when he uttered, “Youth is gentle anarchy.” From the truthful gaze and a steady hand of James Grundy, this is the hard facts, the raw energy, a story in pictures of a group of young mates that existed within the desert galaxy we call Australia.

“Matt was wondering if you have anymore photos for us – we dig your stuff!”

-Off The Rails Magazine

Read Next: The Best Polaroid Cameras Of All Time

Related Posts

One thought on “Salad Days Project

  1. wow, I really love this project. I’m waiting for my Pentax K1000 to arrive and now I really can’t wait to shoot with it.
    I love your choice of camera for this project, it really gives each photo a sense of nostalgia and reminiscence about easier days.
    Not only are you an amazing photographer who can truly capture feelings and emotions, but the way you write makes me feel those emotions even more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *