The fading glories of Melbourne suburbs have been captured for posterity by Seddon photographer Warren Kirk.

The documentary photographer behind the acclaimed Westography book has wandered beyond his beloved western suburbs, collecting more than 150 striking images from further afield for his latest published collection.

Nearly all of the photos in Suburbia: The Familiar and Forgotten were taken in the past decade, a period in which Kirk has observed rapid change in the suburban landscape.

“The pace of change is speeding up, especially if you go out to Brunswick and some of those northern suburbs where it’s just apartment after apartment,” he said.


Photo by Warren Kirk.

In Suburbia, antiquated barbershops and vacant shopfronts rub up against the kitsch and the colourful in a collection that invites the eye to drift through suburbs from all points of the Melbourne compass.

Kirk again provides his trademark glimpses behind the curtains of homes and workshops populated by the elderly inhabitants of a disappearing suburban dream.

“The face of Australia is definitely changing,” he said.

“A lot of my photography is a post-war Australia, with a lot of European migrants, but in another 30 years’ time Australia will be far more diverse than it was then and even is now.”

Now that Kirk has retired, what began as a hobby more than 30 years ago has grown into a full-time passion.

“It’s a reflection of what I do most days,” he said. “Virtually all I do is walk the dog and think about photography. Sometimes I just end up in a suburb, finding little pockets of gold.”

Kirk has long attracted a cult following, but is now attracting a growing audience and inspiring a new generation of photographers.


Photo by Warren Kirk.

“I think it taps into a nostalgia or a love of retro stuff or kitsch,” he said. “I love looking at old photos online, looking at the streetscape or fashion or what people are doing.

“I think it’s really important to capture this – part of me knows I’m creating a record. It’s really important these little lives are preserved because they are as important as any other.”

Kirk regularly uploads new photos to his Flickr page.

Suburbia: The Familiar and Forgotten is out this week through Scribe Publications for $39.99.