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According to Commonwealth of Australia (2008) the market for retail tenancy is a complex and dynamic amalgam, comprising of large and small business ventures, which are participating within the rental market as landlords and tenants. The commission offered estimates, that 290,000 retail tenancy leases are operational in Australia, and that an estimated 58,000 new leases are drawn every year.
A large number of these rental properties are owned by 6 trusts/ companies offering around 10% of all rental retail space. The Australian retail rental market is characteristic with imbalances, where the tenants feel that they have little or no control over the leases. Despite the efforts of retail tenancy legislation, concerns are as pressing, as they were earlier.
These concerns include the emergence and speedy development of the shopping center model, the lack of affordable, effective, accessible dispute resolution models – for checking the disputes between the well organized landlords and the, often, small scale, powerless specialty tenants. There is also the issue of limited familiarity to the shopping center model, as opposed to the common arcade format shops and shopping strip (C W A 2008, p. XIX- XXI).
The effectiveness of developments in legislative control, towards addressing these imbalances of negotiation power between landlords and tenants has not been delivered (C W A 2008, p. XXIII). Also, the collective bargaining efforts to be affected under Trade Parties Act (1974) – which sought to offer increased accessibility by Jan 2007 was greatly not able to address the bargaining of small retailers towards the large shopping centers (C W A 2008, p. XXV).
The case has not been any different for city authorities, as local territorial and state governments, through cooperative work with the commonwealth faced the need to facilitate a common code of performance for shopping center leasing, which is to be enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The areas to be addressed include the formulation of fair trading, lease lodging, transparency, dispute resolution and information delivery standards. The provisions would also address the cases of intrusion in matters of rent levels, minimum lease terms and the making of new leases (C W A 2008, p. XXXIII).
At the Southport suburb, which is located close to the mid-point of Gold Coast, the case has not been any different – as rental retail shops have remained vacant, because of the extremely high lease rates, which are not affordable among the residents. The case is even worse, for those that are not able to offer security for financing or borrowing, for instance, the youths and the unemployed.
In this line, a documentary of some of the properties was created, showing how the uncontrolled rental rates have adversely affected commercial rental occupancy (G C C C 2001, p. 23-24). The documentary gives reference to theoretical models on the issue of discussion, the works of other photographers which are related to the discussion issue or the documentary genre.
This report is a reflection of the theoretical concepts in play, in relation to the works of other photographers under the documentary genre; what the documentary was created to achieve, the steps taken towards the realization of the goal, and the findings of the rental situation at the areas of study, which are reflective of the Gold Coast, Australia case in general (Commonwealth of Australia 2008; Gold Coast City Council 2001, p. 24-33).
The Genre of documentary photography
The documentary genre of photography refers to the fashionable line of photography, which has been a useful tool, applied to chronicle pressing, significant and valuable historical events. It is a line, typically characteristic and covered in professional photojournalism and real life coverage or reporting. The field is also used as an amateur, academic and artistic pursuit, through which professional photographers or learners present truthful, objective, characteristically outspoken photography of a particular knowledge area.
The genre, often, covers pictures and informative photographs of people. The concept of documentary photography refers to the model of coverage, in the aspects of using photographs to precisely describe otherwise hidden, unknown, difficult to access, and forbidden places or facts, either in terms of the place or the circumstances surrounding the particular subject area.
Examples of photographic pursuits that qualify to be placed under the documentary genre include that of John Greene, who toured Nubia in the early 1850s, with the sole goal of photographing the major ruins located at the region (Bate 2009, p. 22).
Documentary photography revolves around a number of real life concepts, including that it is a means of confirming the identity of situations and things, for instance, it is used in the study of crime activities – as evidence, which may be used to show the type of crime and the level of damage among other indicators that it can offer. Another real life concept is its use as a medium for the selling of products.
An example here is the unquestionable importance of photography in advertising, as a model through which the reality of abstract or real products is brought to the awareness of the consumer population. A third real life concept surrounding the significance of documentary photography is that it is used as a model of reshaping reality (Bate 2009, p. 65).
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Towards the creation of the photographic documentary under reporting, on the shops that cannot be leased due to their high lease prices, as well as development of my future career and the communication of meanings, this field will be useful in a number of ways. These include that it will be used as artistic medium of communication, yet one that presents more facts than any spoken or written communication may offer.
This is especially the case, considering that documentary photography offers self-explanative communication photographic media. The media will also be used as a representation of events, for example, through the images; it is evident that there are some businesses that had just left the shops in question, as can be seen from their photographic advertisements, still placed at the premises of these shops.
From the documentary photographs, it is also possible to see some people looking through the glasses, arguably, admiring the shops. The problem is that they are unable to do anything, as they cannot afford the lease costs, as well as the complementary costs, for example, lease processing fees. From the flow of the people outside the shops in question, it is clearly indicative that the locality of the shops is not in question, as it is evident from the flow of people that customers would access the shops (Bate 2009, p. 65).
This fact may be supported by the strategic location of the Southport suburbs, which is located around the mid-point of the Gold Coast, which is home to a majority of the city’s population. From the 2006 census statistics, Southport had a population of 24,097 (Wright 2011).
In the U.S, such documentary photographic ventures include the photographic venture enforced to trace the progress of the American civil war; an exercise carried on by a three-team consortium of iconic photographic publishing-distributors, including Alexander Gardner and Mathew Brady.
The photographic venture led to the creation of a major archive of informative pictures, documenting the dry accounts of the battle fields, to the disturbing photographs of the dead victims by O’Sullivan Timothy and the suggestive images created by Bernard George (Bate 2009, p. 65).
The conception of the project was based on the personal experiences, accumulated during the few years I have been pursuing the dream of owning a business around the area, from which the documentary was drawn. The conception of the project was also based on the non-pleasant experiences of different people lessees at Southport and the Gold Coast in general, expressed over different media on the non-affordable nature of properties for the past few years.
From the different channels of communication and the diverse range of the individuals and groups raising these problems, one thing was clear that the service charges and rental rates charged were above the reach of many of the affected (Citizen’s Advice Bureau 2001) a study facilitated by the Queensland shelter and the Gold Coast city council noted that retail tenancy leases are monitored by territory and state retail tenancy legislation.
The core purpose of these legislations is to resolve the bargaining imbalances existing, between authoritative shopping center property owners and powerless small retailers (Anderson 2001).
Despite these regulations, noteworthy and widening dissimilarities between the administrations still prevail, despite the attempts to realize harmony. Some aspects of the regulations have also restrained the operations of the market, reduced productivity, and led to the imposition of extra administrative and compliance costs.
Towards addressing the present inconsistencies, the areas to be addressed include the adoption of a more effective approach to the shopping center section of the market – which can be effected through the introduction of a universal shopping center convention of conduct. This code will aid, towards easing tensions, cost reduction, as well as present less prescriptive, consistent legislation.
Through the change of structure, the imbalances in the bargaining power of tenants with the landlords will move towards effective balance (Citizen’s Advice Bureau 2001). From the information presented through the study, it is clear that the rental market player who remains on the losing end is the user of leased property, as they are obligated to have such services.
For instance, a large number of the Gold Coast city works at centers far from their local home, which implies that they have to either rent a residential place or buy a house which is closer to their workplace (Wright 2011).
The conception of the study was also based on the increased globalization and accessibility of diverse locations, which has pushed many into business. With reference to the increasing uptake of business and trade, I sought to offer a study that may present some insights on ways of overcoming the irrational, structural rise of rental rates.
As discussed in previous paragraphs, the core intent of the portfolio was to draw attention to the complexity sorrowing lease rates, which is negatively affecting the common consumers of such properties, especially with the current and previous financially difficult times and financial crises.
The major idea to be communicated through the documentary is that the problem of high rental rates can be addressed, as it is partly a created problem, and not one that has been caused by the change of times and economies. The potential users of the information communicated through the documentary include the government and other rental variations-regulating authorities, the consumers of lease properties, and the owners of such properties.
From a personal point of view, I greatly admire John Greene, as his pursuit to engage in the Nubia expedition showed a great level of passion for his work, thus serves as an example to motivate me, in overcoming the challenges coming in the way of my photography career. I also admire Edouard Baldus, as his level of success in the field, motivates me towards pursuing challenging photographic ventures (Gold Coast City Council 2001).
Planning, solving problems
The challenges anticipated during the progress of the study included self-report measures of the informants. This problem affects the study, basically because, the opinions, attitudes and the responses offered in response to the rental problems of the past, would be narrated in a cloudy manner. As a result, the overall effect is that the information offered may not be fully relative of the issue at hand, thus affect the accuracy of the findings offered by the documentary.
Towards overcoming this challenge area, the researcher surveyed the views of the different informants at more than one interview sessions. Of the data and the views collected from the informants, those that were closely related – the first and the second account – were considered as more accurate, thus more realistic as compared to those that showed remarkable differences (Verdugo 1998; Reinard 1998).
There was also the problem of choosing the locations for study, as choosing considerably similar locations would mean that the inferences may not be generalized across other areas within the Gold Cast area. Towards addressing the challenge, the choice of locations was based on representative selection, where the different locations featured for the study were selected randomly, without any level of bias, across the area of study.
Here, there is also the effect of offering socially desirable answers, where respondents may claim that they have experienced rental rates problems, when they have not. Towards addressing this challenge area, the preparation for the study involved a brief cross-examination of the views offered, where those supported by documentation like lease receipts and agreements, were given more consideration.
There is also the effect of personal biases, where informants may offer information on the basis of personal biases, thus not reflect the true picture of the rental rates problem, which supports the documentary’s credibility.
In anticipation of this challenge, informants were cross-examined on whether they felt any sentiments regarding the issue of rental rates, which was administered indirectly, so as to detect any such biases or personal inclinations likely to affect the information offered (Reinard 1998; Verdugo 1998).
There was the cause-and-effect problem, which affects the inferences drawn from the study. For instance, in the case of the Southport study, some of the non-rented shops may be under repair, but still end up, classified as not leased, due to the common problem of high rental rates. In anticipation of this challenge, all the views collected and the information collected was cross-checked, and only the views taken through cross-checking were used towards the generalization process.
This problem is further compounded by the influence of more than one factor, which may not be reviewed by the study. In anticipation of this challenge, the study tried to uncover all the factors and the indicators that were likely to affect the validity of the information collected.
This problem extends to cover the challenge of generalizing the research findings, as the erratic nature of the basic findings leads to erratic overall findings. Sampling was another challenge, as the study was likely to feature identical study centers, thus offer erratic inferences, which could not be generalized for the Southport suburb and Gold Coast in general.
In anticipation of this challenge, the sampling used for the study was fully carried out on a random basis, and the selection process not influenced by any exclusionary considerations (Verdugo 1998; Reinard 1998). Photographic study challenges like lighting did not affect the study, as all the photographs to be taken were captured during the day, and from outside the shop premises (Grenadier 1995).
The strengths of the portfolio include that it reviewed possible openers, closers and keepers, so as to focus what was expected from the review of the issue on rental rates, with regard to the selected photography genre. If I were allowed to repeat the project, I would offer more attention to the indicators from the photographs, which may indicate the need for further study, for example, whether there was a similarity in the businesses operating at the shops that were vacated, as some of these may be vulnerable to non-profitability, thus the ease of closure.
This would complement the generalization that the closure was caused by the high levels of rental rates only. The portfolio focused on the strengths of the study hypothesis and the positive indicators of the phonographs, while not addressing any areas of redundancies. An example here is the quality of the photos, which I would do better, if I were given another chance to tackle the project (O’Roarty, McGreal & Adair 1997).
In discussing my vision to the audience of the portfolio, the message may not have addressed all the factors likely to have caused the high rental rates, which would be corrected in case a second chance of doing the review was offered. For example, minor details like the line of business and its likelihood of success at the area, despite the considerably high rental rates, would be reviewed.
The portfolio was also reputable, in the aspect that it featured reviews and the suggestions collected from the customer population of rental properties at the Southport suburb. However, this area is weak in that it did not review the number of stocks, available at the location, as compared to the number taken, as this would reflect whether there is a positive or a negative balance.
In case I was offered the chance to do the portfolio again, I would review the views of the consumer population, as well as the comparative study of the stocks and other resumes or studies that may offer valuable information, towards building the credibility of the study (Reinard 1998).
The portfolio has another weakness, as attention was not offered towards the creation of a photographic artist’s statement, which may be very helpful in promoting the credibility of the portfolio, as well as appeal to authorities and major players, who may push for immediate action regarding the recommendations.
Through the photographic artist statement, I would offer information on my personal profile as a photographic artist. From this information, the audience as well as all other parties related to the study may be intrigued by the authoritative profile, thus, offer immediate attention to the inferences of the study.
This part of the review will also offer information on what I do and what I was trying to do through the study, as this will offer an opportunity to give more focus to the study, as well as direct the study, which would help ensure that the focus of the thesis is met considerably. The role and the responsibility of the photographer should also be outlined when creating a portfolio, as this will be very helpful towards directing their focus on the range of concentration, which is directly related and relevant to the study.
For instance, the photographer of the current portfolio should restrict the review to the factors that support the thesis that, increased rental rates are forcing consumers into inability to rent such properties. Another area that may be helpful to the audience of the portfolio, as well as the artist, would include offering background information on the future direction of the photographer’s art career (Verdugo 1998).
Recently, questions on the favorability of the Australian rental market have been raised, on whether it is effectively operational, as it has been characteristic with uncontrolled rental price increases. This paper is a report reflecting the progress of the portfolio. The documentary genre offers truthful, objective outspoken knowledge, through photographs. Reputable artists in the field include John Greene and Edouard Baldus.
The conception of the study was based on the personal experiences of consumers of rental property. The challenges anticipated during the study include self-report measures and choosing the locations to be studied. Strength areas of the portfolio included the review of possible openers, closers and keepers, while the weaknesses included the focus on the strengths of the portfolio only.
Anderson, J 2001, Breaking the Cycle of Housing Stress – an Update of the Housing Needs Assessment for Gold Coast City, Queensland Shelter and Gold Coast City Council, Gold Coast City.
Bate, D 2009, Photography: The Key concepts, BERG Publishers, Oxford.
Citizen’s Advice Bureau 2001, ‘Community Resource Directory,’ Citizen’s Advice Bureau, vol. 3 no. 43, pp. 21-23.
Commonwealth of Australia 2008, ‘The Market for Retail Tenancy Leases in Australia,’ Productivity Commission Inquiry Report, vol. 3 no. 43, pp. 21-23.
Gold Coast City Council 2001, Guardian 2011, ‘Young People’s Housing in
Gold Coast City,’ Social Research Studies, vol. 4 no. 14, pp. 24 – 33.
Grenadier, S 1995, “Valuing lease contracts: A real-options approach,” Journal of Financial Economics, Vol.38 no. 7, pp. 297-331.
O’Roarty, B, McGreal, S and Adair, A 1997, “The impact of retailers store selection criteria on the estimation of retail rents,” Journal of Property Valuation and Investment, vol. 15 no. 2, pp. 119-130.
Reinard, J 1998, Introduction to Communication Research, McGraw-Hill, Boston.
Verdugo, E 1998, Practical Problems in Research Methods, Pyrczak Publishing, Los Angeles.
Wright, B 2011, “One hundred years of working on the census”. Australian Bureau of Statistics, vol. 3 no. 4, pp. 23-27.