At home with photographer Dan Hocking

At home | Photographer: Dan Hocking

What does the concept of home mean to you? 

Home is a place where I’m at peace and have access to the things that are most important to my partner, Laura, and myself. A place that allows us to bring our lives together and to share time with the people we love.

How would you describe your home?

It’s a 1960s semi-detached brick build. By no means big, but has everything we need. It has a functional layout, natural light, airflow and green space. The back deck and garden are central to how and where we spend our time. Laura made some key renovations to the house a few years back that encourage a nice flow between the living area, kitchen and backyard/deck. It’s a warm place where we like to surround ourselves with the things most important to us. There’s a great kitchen, which is a big deal to me because I’m constantly cooking. People rarely leave here without me feeding them or taking some food home. There’s room for us to work from home. It’s also a place where Raf (our beloved staffy) can have a great life.

When capturing a project, what is important to you?

If it’s commercial work for a client, then I think it’s important to find that very fine balance. I’ve got my vision for how I’d like something to be represented in images, and they have theirs. Hopefully those things can align, and we all get the best possible result – something we’re all proud of. In terms of personal projects, I just want to be as authentic and honest as I can. That applies to the way I create images and the subject matter. Hopefully some other people are excited about it too.

I start with the designer’s intent and let that inform where we point the camera. For myself it’s important to try to capture atmospheric qualities beyond the purely visual. Still photography is obviously reductive which has its strengths and weaknesses.

At home | Photographer: Dan Hocking

What do you choose to surround yourself with at home?

There’s very little in our home that we don’t need or really want. Artwork and objects are things we both love and combined when we met, and there are some things that have a strong personal significance to our families. That’ll keep evolving over time. There’s a whole lot of books and almost a thousand records in the house, but we’d consider those a necessity. Music takes a priority over screens. Materials have to stand up to dogs. A spilled drink during a night of fun isn’t the end of the world.

How do you think backyards contribute to your home and the wider context of neighbourhoods and community?

The backyard is important to how we live. Gardening has become a mild obsession for me. A healthy one, I think. I’m learning a lot, and spending time on it is very calming. We’ve been focussing on making the backyard bee friendly, more attractive to native birds, and to yield herbs and food. I’d like to think that’s going to help with the local ecology. But it also means that I’m stepping out back to grab some ingredients to cook with and often share with friends and neighbours. If we’ve got a comfortable outdoor space to make others feel welcome, then that’s another positive. I think you’re fortunate to have even a few good neighbours. I’ve been lucky enough to experience a real sense of community in a small apartment in a high-density location, and here, in a more suburban setting. We both love that and try to encourage it.

What made you choose renovating an older building rather than buying something new?

The decision was influenced by meeting my partner, Laura. Knowing we wanted to live together and deciding on the best situation for us both. My apartment really wasn’t big enough for us to live the way we want to, but Laura’s place was – and here we are, at home. I’ve always loved houses like this. Now I pass them every day. The brickwork, detailing, the gardens and generous spaces – it’s given me a new appreciation. I’ve come to this area with fresh eyes, and it’s inspired me to work on a new project, exploring the homes and spaces in our local community.

Elizabeth Campbell RAIA is a senior architect at the City of Melbourne. She is a contributing editor of Architect Victoria.

Dan Hocking is an Australian photographer based in Melbourne. His lifelong passion for design and architecture has led him to photograph buildings, spaces and humans locally and abroad.

Published online:
11 Mar 2024

Architect Victoria
Edition 2 

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