Degraves Street

Degraves Street is the postcard of Melbourne laneways. Crowded with breakfast diners seven days a week. It is always bustling, busy, and the rivers flow with wake up coffee just when your passion for early morning starts is flagging.

There are a couple of key spots here :

1. On a Break

Degraves Place (an alley more than a fancy high falutin’ Place!) intersects Degraves Street. There is always a fair representation of Melbourne Street art here, and you can usually combine it with the local cafe workers taking a break in the alley.


2. The Subway

The entrance to the Degraves Street subway is nifty spot with the a baguette and pancake bakery right on the stairwell. A great spot to get an interesting angle or backdrop to the customers waiting for something to eat.

3. Black and White Time Machine… 

Most of the kids working hospitality on Degraves Street are interesting. Tatts, dressed in stuff they paid too much for at a retro second hand shop, and busy enough to not mind a photo most of the time. Fantastic and free models that just work with the ambiance of the street.

Degraves Street is one of those rare places that is a tourist magnet, but the introduced species of Queenslanders in Hawiaan shirts and Tevas have not yet quite scared off the local native flora and fauna. Wherever there are lots of tourists, you can pretty much point a camera at whatever you want.

Part of capturing a successful image at Degraves Street is seeing what could be with the right film selection rather than what is.

Once it had also gone through an arty lightroom filter, it turned out pretty well. Interesting subjects, lots of tatts, and a very retro feel to the Cafe.

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But look at the colour shot – shot on Fuji 400h negative c41 film. It is flat, lifeless, and looks like something from everyday life (the boring part) rather than a place you want to get on the city loop train to visit. Street photography is not strictly about showing life as it is, but also how it could be. Split second vignettes are not really representative of life, but of a moment. Like a single frame of a movie doesn’t tell the same story as the whole reel.

4. Flinders Lane End

There is always something happening at the Flinders Lane end. Buskers, people handing out tracts on whatever they care about, and just milling about. Depends on the day, but usually there is someone worth photographing here.

degraves end

5. Transition Zone

Probably the best pedestrian crossing in Melbourne is at the Degraves St exit, on Flinders Lane between Degraves St and Centre Place. You can stand on the Degraves St side and wait for the right moment, with the street cred of the Centre Place entrance.

pedestrian crossing

There are also great opportunities late in the afternoon, if the light sweetens up, to get some great shadows and light looking down Flinders Lane.

flinders lane

6. A Random Doorway

One last thing you might want to checkout nearby, before you head down Centre Place. There is a completely groovy doorway at the Centre for Adult Education (CAE) at 253 Flinders Lane – just a couple of doors up. If the doorway is open, it is a bountiful location!


You can find out more on Degraves Street here.

360 Degree Panorama here.

2 Responses to “Degraves Street”

  1. Have you gone into the cupcake store at the Flinders Street end yet? Nice selection of film cameras on one of their shelves…


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