Josh (Joshua), is Don’s unofficially adopted son. They were brought together through the world’s kinder forces when Josh was around 14yrs old. Don was working in the social arena and wanted Josh to have the best chance in life. I have to admit that anyone coming into contact with Donald Clark will most likely end up with a better chance in life…because he’s an inspirational man! If you are ever near Sydney please don’t be shy to ask me for Don’s contact details and he will gladly have a Chai with you and his dog Cobber (and whomever might be staying with him from Couchsurfing at the time).

It took a few days for me to get to know Josh a little. He’s not the most talkative at first but as soon as we understood each other I was very pleased we got on well. As a portrait photographer I am always very sensitive to people’s different characteristics. Some people want their photo taken, others don’t and then there are some who just take a little time to gain their trust. I’m glad I had the time to gain Josh’s trust as I was and am very interested in his cultural and heritage.

I took this photo that evening when he came home from work and the kitchen was full with Don cooking, Sambath taking film footage, Sam Brown sitting with us and me as usual with camera in hand. For those of you who don’t know the tattoo on Josh’s arm is the Aboriginal Flag. I had to be a little cheeky to ask him if I could photograph it when I noticed it peeking out from under his t-shirt…but that sensitive audaciousness of mine worked out well…resulting in one of my favourite portraits from my time in Sydney. By the way the rabbit behind is from the rugby football team Sydney Rabbitohs.

Thanks for sharing your home with me brother Josh ­čÖé

The Don

Donald Clark, a man with a welcoming heart and household, a talent for philanthropy, the support of his Aboriginal and other cultures. Donald answered my advert to take part in The Freeborn Travelling Portrait Project through Couchsurfing. He asked me to read his profile carefully to see if I’d be comfortable staying with him. I was very intrigued to stay with a 62yr old gay Aboriginal man, his unofficially adopted son Joshua and their dog Cobber.

I’m a very open minded person and I’m so thankful for that. I recently said to someone that I’m really lucky to be meeting and staying with all these interesting and wonderful hosts. They replied “You’re not lucky…you are open and positive…which means that opportunities open up for you in abundance”. That warmed my heart and soul to hear such a sweet reflection on my personality. Well, this is one occasion where I am so glad I was open to venturing into such a unique household, in the middle of Redfern, Sydney…possibly housing the most Aboriginal people of any area.

Don is avid and highly accomplished Couchsurfing host. He travelled the world far and wide in his earlier years. That energy and lust for new experiences and new friends hasn’t lulled. He has and continues to act as a truly wonderful host to Couchsurfers from all over the world…from France to Brazil…Eastern Europe to Asia. It was simply wonderful to hear some of his exciting travel stories, to learn of his Aboriginal ancestry and what it means to him (he is an integral player in the preservative politics of Aboriginal culture in Sydney and beyond).

I spent around four days staying at Don’s and within that time he took in a Couchsurfer called Sam from France who was in need of a roof over his head at the time due to the stupidity of the international banking system. Don, Sam and I had many adventures (Cobber came along often too). We continued to meet up for social occasions including the wonderful Yabun festival which I will blog about soon. I saw Don when I was back in Sydney for the Mardi Gras festival and he’s been waiting a wee while for the photographic documentary that will follow this post.

Keep on being the wonderful person you are Don and enjoy the photos as I post them over the next few days…don’t forget I have to fit it all my social occasions in between posts…you know me…man about town…just like yourself! ­čśë

You truly are a man who has lived more than just an interesting life! Keep on keeping on my friend!