I’m enjoying a new approach to my photography. Just plucking up the courage to approach people and start talking. There’s a big loneliness problem been identified in this country at the moment, isolation, depression and mental illness. People generally like it when someone takes an interest in them and what they’re doing. I usually just start by catching their eye, nodding at them and saying “hello”, “y’alright” or “heyup”. If they respond the same it’s usually a good indication that they can talk. A person with a dog is more often than not only too happy to talk about their dog. I could talk about my dog for hours. This gentleman wasn’t sure what the cross breed of his dog was, possibly Staffie-Bulldog cross ? It was bloody strong but extremely gentle and interested ! When I asked if I could make an image it posed beautifully as you can see.
I’ve been inspired recently by the work of two photographers I’m following on Instagram. I owe a debt of gratitude to these two particularly for giving me fresh inspiration in my work. Check them out.
Andrew Johnston – andrewj.98 is similarly documenting his home city of Belfast. A place I’ve not yet been to but this work really gives you a feel for the nitty gritty and characters of this place. A city which has had more than it’s fair share of sectarian troubles in the past and no doubt sill feels the scars.
Derby, it’s not unlike Chesterfield only there’s a bit more of it. My forays into this city are for the foreseeable future so it’s good to be able to make the opportunity and have a stroll around with the camera. There’s a lot more ethnics in Derby, Chesterfield is a bit of a white working class enclave. We could do with a damn good formica table eat with your hands no nonsense curry house in Chesterfield. One where you can fill your belly for about six quid and not want owt to eat for another fortnight. I’d be in there at least once every two weeks.
There’s an excellent photo exhibition on at Quad in Derby ( UK ) at the moment. Mark Neville’s Battle Against Stigma is a project which aims to challenge ( don’t they all ? ) the stigma of mental health problems in the military and to encourage attitude change. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that kind of thing. My mate Clive was in the army and we were talking about this one day. He reckoned that what the Army needed to do was provide somewhere where when they came home from a Tour of Duty or came out the Army they could go to and come back down to earth all together. Some place where they could get pissed, relax and just be together and talk about their respective experiences to each other. Instead they find themselves back in civilian life trying to come to terms with experiences that the rest of the population neither know, could possibly understand or particularly care about.
The problem with Quad in Derby is that it doesn’t seem to be able to make it’s mind up with what it wants to be. Is it an Independent Cinema, a Gallery space, an Arts Centre with Educational provision or a watered down all three. It’s partly the design of the building which is the problem. The Gallery space isn’t big enough, the Café and Bar area is neither one thing or the other and the shop is just a token gesture to such a thing. It tries to compete with the other big Art Spaces in the country but so far has failed precisely because it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It pays only lip service to local artists and creatives who desperately need somewhere like this to unleash themselves. It wants getting hold of by the scruff of the neck and shaking about but alas !
I was working ( yes I have to work ) in Sheffield yesterday at a Steel Melting plant. It was a visually interesting space and I’d love to go back with my camera and document, particularly on a day when they melt. I’d like to meet the Melting Manager too. Just up the road was Beres Pork shop where for lunch I got the best pork pie I’ve had in bloody ages. The egg custard wasn’t bad either. Beres came here from Budapest back in them days, the time when all those Brexit voting idiots want their country back. Ya see if it wasn’t for Immigration I wouldn’t have had that absolutely superb pork pie yesterday. I can’t imagine Russian billionaire Roman Abramovitch doing much work in this country anyway ? Not like clocking on and clocking off kind of work like what the rest of us do. This idea of him losing his work Visa ? I smell Government bullshit ! Can you smell bullshit ? Take my Poll today, it’s just for fun.
It’s taken me years to remember which one is which. Liam Gallagher is the gobshite one with attitude whose doing very well for himself as football thug lead singer of a rock n roll band and Noel Gallagher is the marginally less gobshite one with attitude and a bit more intelligence whose doing very nicely for himself as football thug turned mellower introspect lead singer of a rock n roll band. Supposedly they don’t get on but cynic me thinks it’s all part of the act. Like Lennon and McCartney, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, Morecambe and Wise they were better together, ( well Lennon didn’t do so badly) as Oasis.In fact neither of them in their respective bands don’t sound much different even though Noel is trying to be a bit more creative. Liam can be quite funny until he starts his football terrace act extolling the virtues of supporting Man City. I used to know boys like him at Sheffield United, some of whom are dead now. One was shot in the head while sat in his car as part of some drug feud. Another died of a brain haemorrhage; the last time I saw him in Sheffield he looked like he’d been pumping himself with body building steroids. He certainly didn’t need to be any more aggressive, he was a nasty piece of work already. He once tried to pick my pocket, they called him ‘Dodger’. My brother says I look a bit like Pep Guardiola, I ought to get myself over to Manchester with an “I’m Pep Guardiola” t-shirt ? My wife says only when I wear my red reading glasses.
Bear with me I’m experimenting with this Poll thing. Have a go !
Early evening in Derby. This young man asked me if I could spare some change. I said “no sorry” I couldn’t but I was lying. I had some change in my pocket. I walked around the corner and felt guilty so I went back and gave him twenty pence. He thanked me. “What are you doing out here?” I asked him. He was homeless, “why are you in a wheelchair?” I questioned further. He is a diabetic and has bad legs. They get ulcerated and sore. Unless he could get twenty quid for a bed and breakfast he would be sleeping out this night. I’m not sure if I believed him but I wasn’t prepared not too if you know what I mean. He was to have the benefit of the doubt. I asked him if I could take some images and he kindly agreed. I took a couple of him in his street surroundings while he shouted the words “cheesy penis”. Shouting the words “cheesy penis” he said always made him giggle and he obviously wanted me to capture him smiling. We chatted briefly and I asked him If I could do a portrait, “what just for 20p?” he replied. I told him I don’t pay people to take their pictures as a rule. I gave him a bit more change, wished him well and took his portrait. His name was Chris.
My new found confidence in approaching people is beginning to pay dividends. I’ve had to go to Derby these last couple of weeks. It’s a long and personal story I won’t bore you with the details but I’ve made the opportunity to have some short walks with the camera. Frankly I’d rather be on the coast walking on the beach with the wife and dog. Summers are too short in England but as they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.
This gentleman ( above) allowed me to make an image of him. I was attracted to the t-shirt. I find that approaching them with a compliment usually works well. If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all as my old Grandma used to say. I think it was her anyway.