I have been taking snaps of Grant Mccracken for as long as I have been taking photos of Melbourne's streets. I first encountered him in 2003 and he made for an imposing and intimidating figure. But one that was screaming to be photographed!
On that first meeting, I asked if I could photograph him and the four rough characters with him. He said "Only if you give me $10!"
Far too good an opportunity to pass up, so I gave Grant $10 and nervously took the photo.
Over the years though, we became friends. Every time I saw him I would stop and have a brief chat that would always turn to hours. Once Grant got going, he was hard to escape from.
Not that you really wanted to anyway. He was always full of life's stories and if you were lucky, he'd read you one of his poems. Poems like no other!
The last time I got to really hang with Grant, I had just returned from 4 months travelling in Europe. I bumped into him at Rose Street in Fitzroy where he was peddling his craft and encouraging people to visit the Rose Street Market.
Once his shift was over, we went across the road to the pub for a drink. Or two!
I had my camera with me and I asked Grant if he wouldn't mind if we did a quick shoot as I had never really photographed him properly. He was absolutely keen to do it so we got to work.
He was posing a lot in the initial shots so I instructed him to pretend the camera wasn't there. Let's just chat and every so often, I'll take a shot.
At the end of the shoot, Grant revealed to me he wasn't doing so well. And he asked if he could take a photo of me with his camera. Of course I said to him that would be fine.
We chatted on Facebook for a while after the shoot. (He loved the photos so much and wanted me to enter them in a portrait comp so we could win some money!) HA!
Grant passed away a year or so after the shoot and it really hit hard. I miss the guy.
If you happen to be in Fitzroy and look upon the corner of Rose St and Brunswick St, you'll see graffiti portrait of him placed where he would sit each and every weekend and hassle all the foot traffic. RIP Mate! "Johnny you can shoot me anytime... just not in the back!"