Living in the Present

Editorial by Colin Trechter
Last week's piece was published amongst the holiday flurry. This week in the Longer Light Series we bring you photographic documentation of those days, entitled ‘Living in the Present’ from Chart friend Benjamin Lichtenstein, a Melbourne photographer whose work is both deeply personal and broadly relatable.
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December 23. I visited my mum in Flemington to do some gardening at her place in preparation for Christmas. This is her in the backyard.

One of the joys of visiting my mum’s is seeing her dog, Lola. What a cutie.

I took a few photos of the house as a way of documenting its current state. Mum’s planning on doing some renovations, so this may be the last Christmas in the house as we know it. We moved into this place in 1989 and it hasn’t really been touched since.



As I was leaving, Mum checked her letterbox and found the letters I had sent to her and my brother Jules with the photos from my Das Boot stall earlier in the year. The Das Boot Fair was a car boot sale made up of stalls by artists, put together by Esther Stewart and Oscar Perry as part of the Next Wave Festival. I set up a photo booth in the back of my car. For $2 you could have your photo taken with me in my football playing gear, or for $4 you could have your photo taken without me. Part of the deal was that I’d print and then post the photos out.

After Mum’s I paid a visit to my friend Jacko. He’s the timekeeper at my football club, West Brunswick. He often hangs out at “the pond”, the small body of water at the northern end of Princes Park. I reframed a picture of his daughter taken when she was an infant. Jacko was delighted.

December 24. What better place to escape Christmas than on a golf course. My old friend Warwick Baker and I got in a relaxing nine at Royal Park. Here he is teeing off on the eighth.

This is my ball after the second shot on the same hole.

Bizarrely, the sprinklers were in full flight on the ninth tee. Both Waz and I had to time our shots to avoid getting wet. Naturally, as soon as we’d taken our shots the sprinklers stopped.

45 to 55, advantage Warwick.

The afternoon saw a visit to my friends Megan and Philippa’s place in Yarraville. Here’s their daughter Cinema wearing Phil’s shoes.

And here’s their son Basquiat. My brother Jules is his dad.

A house on Union Street, Brunswick, in Christmas mode.

Christmas Eve is usually spent at my girlfriend Sheena’s parents’ place in Caulfield. Here’s Steve and Magda putting the angel on top of the tree. Sheen and her two sisters are in the foreground.

Sheena, Jamie and Dani laying out their Santa sacks. Despite my indifference to Xmas, I like that other people find it joyful.

December 25.

Dani got her boyfriend Nick a cockatiel.

I don’t know who gave it, but Jamie and her husband Scotty got cash in an inflated balloon.

This is Kevin. He’s Sheena’s auntie’s husband. He’s been sick lately, but boy it was a treat to see him. He loves golf and a joke too, so we get along well.

I like being in Melbourne at this time of year. The streets are dead and everyone’s away.

Next stop: Mum’s place. I’m on coal lighting duty; Jules’s on the nod. Growing up it was always just a barbecue with my brother and my mum on Xmas Day. Jules and I would make up excuses like having to take the dog for a walk, then go and smoke a joint in the park across the road. Lola never got as much exercise as she did on Christmas Day.

Megan, Philippa, Basquiat and Cinema pop in.

Evening came and we went off to my dad’s place in Southbank. Always good seeing some familiar faces at this time of year.

My stepbrother Mickey was over the moon with his gifts. I still find it strange seeing the words “essential” and “Backstreet Boys” in such close proximity.

Mickey took this photo. That’s my always smiling half-sister Sabrina up the back with Jules. The sweet girl at the front with Sheena and me is a friend of the family.

I remember back in 1996, my dad took Jules and I to a cafe in Camberwell for an information seminar about this new thing called the internet. He seemed so technologically savvy at the time. Somewhere between then and now he kind of fell off the wagon. Here he is documenting dinner with an iPad.

It rained at night.

December 27. I took to the wheel of Sheena’s mum’s car and drove the three of us out to Wangaratta to see Sheena’s sister Jamie who lives and works out there with her husband Scotty. They’re both ambulance paramedics.

I’ve long had a fascination with trucks. Being a truck driver is on my list of jobs I’d like to do at some stage of my life, along with being a taxi driver and postman.

Jamie and the beginnings of ravioli.


Usually on road trips I make the same old gags to whoever’s in the car. This sign would be my cue to say “Anyone thirsty?” or “Great town for a drink.” Place-based jokes like this would invariably conjure up other other ones like “What’s the seaside town that’s good for conversation? Torquay!”

“Great place for a fight.”

No matter where I’m returning from, as soon as I see the city skyline I would say, brimming with pride and in a tone that suggests I’m showing the occupants of the car something they’ve never seen before: “There she is... Marvellous Melbourne. Gee, I really love this city. Baby.”


The Longer Light Series explores the idea that our personal rituals – from the mundane to the grand – tether us to special places and particular times. It investigates how our rituals are contingent on the places where we perform them, on the rhythm of the seasons, on the weather of any given day, on what we see and smell around us.
The 12 distinct works of the series detail, document or respond to some sort of ritual (as each contributor interprets that word) enacted during a week of summer days and nights. The works will be published in weekly instalments so that, in concert, they plot the arc of an Australian summer.
The Longer Light Series is supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.