Well a very hopeful and brave New Year to all my followers and random readers and a special warm welcome to my 300th follower of this blog. Although I don’t like the term ‘follower’ very much. Jesus had followers and I ain’t no Jesus.
I’ve not been on here for a while. Before Christmas my Laptop Hard Disk crashed. Fortunately, friend, neighbour and computer geek helped me get up and running in a relatively painless manner and saved me some cash in the process. A new hard disk in the same laptop against a brand new laptop at a fraction of the cost. What was disconcerting about the event was that it brought home to me just how dependent on having a computer and being attached to the World Wide Web I’ve become. From having to pay bills on line to just being in touch with friends and a multitude of other things. It’s a dependency I can’t say I’m happy with oh no.
I’ve resisted the urge to do a Review of 2016. I haven’t got that much to say about it that probably hasn’t been said already. Like a lot of people I know, for me personally, it was a pretty bum year and I’m glad to see the back of it. My father in law passed away at the end of September after an 18 month illness. Much of 2016 was spent helping the family to look after him.That’s him in the above photo which I took back in 2009 for my project on Englishness. He died of what we categorize here in the UK as an “Industrial Disease”. Actually it was Mesothelioma, commonly known as Asbestosis. As a Pattern Maker for the local Iron Foundry he’d worked with asbestos back in the late 70’s early 80’s. Doing a job he loved to provide for his family but a job which eventually would kill him. I’m glad I made the effort to make this image of him and his wife in their back garden, one foot on the path and one foot on the English soil.
On the subject of English soil I didn’t vote for this country to leave Europe. I didn’t believe it was in the nation’s best interests, economically or socially. Certainly not for the majority of us anyway and I’ve not seen anything yet to change my mind. Now the deed has been done and we’re waiting for a soft, hard or semi erect Brexit I hope, very much hope that it will all turn out alright in the end and I’m wrong in my opinion. I suspect we’ll not know for about 30 years by which time I’ll either be gone or too old to give a shit. One of the men to blame will be Nigel Farage and he’ll be long gone too. When Trump won the election Farage went over to congratulate him and have his photo taken with him. Like Trump, Farage is one of those people who abuses anyone who doesn’t agree with him; a political bully.
Meanwhile over in the USA !
What is there to say about Donald Trump that hasn’t already been said ? There’s a part of me that thinks he’ll not actually achieve much, if anything at all. He’ll be the most ineffectual American President in history. He strikes me as a dodgy business man who’ll say anything to anyone in order to sell something. I’d be interested to hear and see him perform in front of an all black American audience in one of the Southern States and compare that to an all Hispanic audience. Might be alright as a business man running your own Companies but quite different as President of the good ole US of A surrounded by lots of intelligent bureaucrats who have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to delay policies that don’t fit. Here in the UK we have the Civil Service for all that malarkey. You’ve got to laugh at the Democrats though haven’t you. I mean if they didn’t write dodgy emails in the first place then the Russians wouldn’t have found them to leak. Give someone enough rope and eventually they’ll hang themselves which is kinda what I hope will happen to Trump.
So in 2017 I’m very much hoping to curtail my dependency on computers and not worry about all those things like world politics that I can do absolutely nothing about. My New Year’s resolution ? Do More – Say Less.
A brave and hopeful New Year to you all.
I’m happy to report that my self published book Breugel Town has been reviewed in latest issue of Flip magazine the group of which I am a member and not a bad review it is too. I’ve provided a link for those of you wishing to investigate further.
fLIP is published three times per year and each issue has an overarching theme. Our primary aim is to showcase work from our membership of over 500 photographers, and to engage readers in a wider dialogue concerning diverse approaches to photography. The magazine is funded by member subscription fees and contains no advertising. fLIP offers a truly independent voice for photographic practice in London!
Somewhere in my postcard collection I have a photograph similar to this one. A couple are sat at a table in a cafe but only the face of the female we can see. She is smiling and it’s clear that the man with his back to us, the viewer, is amusing. His company is being enjoyed. It’s a photo that’s intrigued me for many years. I want to know what the man looks like. I can only imagine.
This image I’ve had for a while now. I’ve felt guilty for taking it. I feel like I’ve intruded on a personal moment. There’s intimacy and shared knowledge between these two. The young lady looks anguished, concerned, sad? There cannot be a human being who does not identify with this look, this emotion. Perhaps that is why I snatched the image. Something about this touched my inner self. I saw myself in both him and her. I took the photo, there on Westminster Bridge, and as I look more closely I see two people across the road who look like man and woman walking away from each other. Don’t walk away in silence. Touch the void between you. Feel it, sense it. I took the image and walked away quickly perhaps with past sadness’ beginning to rise up in my soul from where I had buried them. It’s not you, it’s me !
Earlier this week one of my readers took the trouble to contact me and of course I thank that person for making the effort. I post that persons comments below. To be honest I’m not very good at receiving compliments, something in my psychology I guess. I always tend to read the negative in them so at first what was said felt a bit like what we term here in the UK as a ‘back handed compliment’. My images are at first impression ‘mundane’ ? ” but on further reading “embedded with a lot of social meaning”. I’ve been thinking this over for a few days now and in the dead of night while trying to sleep, I remembered that somewhere in my collection of notebooks I write about just this aspect of my street photography. The ‘mundane’ I realise is something I’ve been exploring for a while now within my images. Particularly of my home town. I often go into town and see people stood about doing, on the face of it, very little ! Standing around waiting to do something, go somewhere or for something to happen or waiting for someone else. I see this and I make images of this happening or not happening as the case maybe. You see, here’s the thing, life can be very mundane at times. While a lot of street photography is concerned with the ‘decisive moment’ while I go for that, I’m also concerned with the ‘mundane’ existence for a lot of people here in the UK and in so capturing this I hope that my images are embedded with social meaning. So I’ve also spent some time this week thinking about ‘mundane’ and why I feel it exists. I’m afraid I can’t give any answers here but I do feel that mundane is closely associated with boredom. I think a lot of people here in the UK are just plain bored. Why should that be ? After all a man who is bored is boring so the saying goes ? One thing photography has given me has this ability to be seldom bored. While considering photography I am constantly looking ( and feeling ) for images. Photography teaches you to look at everything with a new and fresh perspective. The steely blue grey of a storm cloud, the way the light hits a pavement. The way a person stands on a street corner and so on and so forth. With a camera in my hand I’m seldom bored and unoccupied. My dog has taught me to live in the moment as well and that’s something else I hope I bring to my image making.
The image above is a particular favourite. I love that he’s holding a ‘Bag for Life’ and the way he’s holding his arms. The watch on his wrist gives further weight to this aspect of ‘time’ as does the large banner on the bus that says ‘Every Ten Minutes’
So here’s the comment. Thank you that person.
“Hi Andy, just went through all your posts and they are great! I am doing my research on elderly with walking aids and it seems like you have a great interest in it as well. I think your street photography is mundane in its first impression but embedded with a lot of social meanings. Again, very inspiring. Great works!”
The light was superb. A sea mist was sat just off shore and rising. Ten minutes earlier you couldn’t see a yard in front of you, either up the beach or down. That perfect seascape still eludes me. With a wide-angle lens getting the horizon straight can be tricky, not helped by lens barreling. Just lining the shot up and out the corner of my right eye I see a man about to walk into the field of vision. He’s carrying a large piece of wood on his shoulder. Bingo ! I get the shot. I love these unexpected moments. Right there right then, and suddenly you think you’ve got the perfect shot.