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November 28, 2014

My Adelaide with David Sievers

David Sievers is one of those rare photographers able to create something iconic from the benign. The North Adelaide resident has a special interest in architecture and we asked him to show us the city through his eyes.

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  • Pictures: David Sievers
  • Portrait of Cathy and David: Simon Casson

“A photographer’s day can change in a minute,” says David. “When your office is often outdoors, the weather sets your working hours. A big part of the photographer’s job is diary balancing. And looking at weather forecasts. And answering emails. Sounds glamourous, I know.

“Planning is everything in professional photography, especially architecture. A big part of my job is stalking buildings at dawn and again in the evening. I’m interested in how they react and interact with the atmosphere, the light, shadow and every other variable.

 “My partner and business partner Cathy has a background in graphic design. She has a great eye and takes awesome pictures. She rarely gets a chance to exercise her excellence behind the lens because I’m a control freak. She definitely pushes me to be the best I can though, while also being the realist and telling me to settle when I take too much on. Having her by my side, in this work, is its own reward.


Cathy and David on the other side of the lens

 “I guess I’ve always had an interest in architecture. After quizzing (even when one question would probably do) the architect about the story behind their design, my favourite part of the shoot is to strip the project right back and reveal the lines, shapes, tones and dynamic compositions that occur in the built environment but often get lost within the bigger picture. Sometimes my photographs will remind a designer of that clever thing they did – but had long since forgotten.


David believes Melbourne Street is right for revival. Attractive food and beverage businesses would act as a magnet for nearby University of Adelaide and boarding College students.

 “Coffee is what we love about Adelaide. And this city does do it well. When traveling, a good coffee is sometimes the hardest thing to find and we are spoilt for choice here. 

“Sitting outside in the warming sun, drinking coffee and people-watching is home to us. The evening sun streaming down North Terrace and Grenfell Street, the Torrens Lake in the morning, the North Adelaide horse paddocks in the afternoon and SAHMRI at dusk are the pictures of our city that we frame in our minds. However, it’s the sun setting over our beaches that we think of most while we’re away.


North Adelaide’s paddocks get the Sievers treatment

“It’s great to experience a faster paced life every now and then. In London we stayed with Cathy’s sister and her philosophical approach to big-city-living summed up the experience best: ‘go out and stay out’. You can’t just pop home and get changed in London. You’ve got to deal with the boiling hot Tube and the cold wet weather. You’ve got to look nice at the latest place in Covent Garden or SOHO and be comfortable on the trip home. And you’ve got to do it all before you leave the house in the morning.

 “We love San Francisco. It’s a great walking city and has a buzz about it that sticks to you. We went to Hong Kong in February and it had a charm that makes you decide you’re coming back before you even finish the visit you’re on. Last year we checked out Portland and found an amazing city full of wonderful food and micro-breweries. It’s easy to see more and more of Portland in Adelaide actually – certainly the food trucks.

 “We work irregular hours, which means a lot of the time we just want to chill out somewhere and get some dinner on the way home. ‘Closed’ signs as well as the, ‘just letting you know we close in 10 minutes’ call from the waiter is what holds our city back. I understand we may not have the population to support the ways of bigger cities and recognise things are a lot better now but I think our hospitality might give some visitors an unnecessary culture-shock. And that would be a shame.”

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