Back in October of last year I published a blog post entitled ‘Everything else is just Background’ . Essentially, so you don’t need to waste time reading it, I was waxing lyrical that life was all about People, and how photography’s the same. No matter how far I travel I’m still taking shots of people, the background as I previously stated in that blog is irrelevant, the people are what’s important. The sheer variety of people I see and meet is incredible, the main point is that for the most part they’re incredibly nice characters too. What has always fascinated me is that when you do see a person there’s often little clue of what their life story has been.
Sometimes I look at a scene and wonder what’s really going on here with these actors. Like this shot for example, some kind of a Love Triangle perhaps, the lady looking at her phone is of course totally oblivious to it all:
Okay, my imagination got a little carried away there. Here’s a short, true life story, about my mum. Last week I travelled on my motorbike to Hythe in Kent. I’ve never been and yet heard a lot about it. My mother was born there and grew up in this small coastal town throughout the 1930’s and during WWII. She tells me how they would sit on the seafront watching the skies above them, RAF Spitfires and Luftwaffe Messerschmitts would dogfight until one or the other was shot down. Nazi bombers in their hoards would fly over during the Blitz, the air raid sirens would sound, no one much bothered as they knew the bombs were due for London. When the sirens sounded again as the Dorniers and Heinkels headed back home to Germany it was time to hide, whatever bombs were leftover would be jettisoned. All children in vulnerable areas were evacuated to safer parts of the country. My mother was evacuated to live in Wales and later re-evacuated to Cornwall, all on her own, without her mother, brothers or sisters for company. Different times and a far stretch from todays kids, we won’t even let Amélie walk to the nearby park on her own and she’s almost ten years old. Her mother waved her goodbye at the station, she didn’t know when she’d return or if there would be anything or anybody to return to. You wouldn’t know any of this if you saw her of course which is kind of my point. Not that many years ago a mugger found out who he was dealing with when he tried to steal her handbag, she hit him over the head with it and that was his career choice in doubt as he ran for his life …don’t judge a book by its cover! Anyway, it took me 10 hours of motorcycle riding to get to Hythe and back, 3 hours longer than I’d calculated or the SatNav estimated, in the end it became more of a challenge, an endurance test, than anything else. I planned to take lots of photographs and present one to my mum. I was so rushed when I got there that I took hardly any, no framed photos unfortunately. What I can tell you is that on the few occasions that I saw my maternal Grandmother when I was a child she called everyone either ‘Ducks’ or ‘Ducky’ , it’s a colloquialism of Kent. I took this one photo of a lady walking past the Military Canal in Hythe. She smiled and didn’t say it, but it seemed to me as though she was thinking ‘Hello Ducks’.
So, these are the type of thoughts that are going around in my head whilst I walk around Bath. This week I had the opportunity to be there earlier than my usual time of around midday. I absolute love being in a town or city in the morning, I’ve mentioned before how it reminds me of my childhood. The hustle and bustle, you can feel the anticipation building for the new day, deliveries being made, familiar faces , the buskers having their 9:30 meeting, deciding on who’s having which pitch. I say hello to a couple of them, have a chat with another. The ‘Hare Krishnas’ are here. One I often speak to, all dressed up in his orange robes and with the obligatory shaved head. Generally our conversations are about ‘being at one’ and how photography is similar or we just have a laugh, he tells some great jokes. I couldn’t remember the word that describes ’being at one’ and surprisingly neither could he, which made us both laugh as I pointed out that surely this was the basis of all their teachings. Oh yes, eventually it came to me, it’s ‘Mindfulness’, not to be confused with ‘forgetfulness’ which is evidently what I practice…
What I was also forgetting to do was take any photos, I sat on a wall for a while with my coffee in beautiful morning sunshine and watched the world go by. In the end I decided that I’d better have something to show for my trip. I was so lost in my own thoughts that I found I was missing everything, looking at some interesting people and half heartedly clicking. I could have got in close and got some great shots, I almost couldn’t be bothered as I was so absorbed and simply enjoying being there. Here’s a couple of examples with some big time tattoo enthusiasts. Missed opportunities ;
A mother with children on her bike hurtled past at tremendous speed and it woke me up, time to make some shots:
Of course we all know that then it becomes a case of trying too hard. We panic because it’s almost time to go and there’s nothing in the bank. Usually if I’m in a hurry I start going for some of those Street Photography clichés. There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just easy to make and not really what I’m looking for:
Or I attempt to find something contrasty for a Black & White conversion:
As you’ll see in this next image It began to get busier as the morning wore on. Bath this time of year is rammed. Even this guy is looking at me as if to say; “time for you to go home mate, I’m a tourist and even I don’t want to be here…”
I was a little disappointed as I headed back to my motorbike, I wanted to capture a lot more. Just to demonstrate if I could that feeling of the morning in a city. Never mind, I felt it, enjoyed it and soaked it all up. I was hungry, ready for lunch. Nearly to where my bike was parked and still thinking about people. The opening shot of this blog post was the last one I took and ironically probably the best of the day. Once I’d stopped trying and went into my previous mode of simply observing along came these two. To finish here’s three shots as they walked towards me to show the sequence:
Now I look again, perhaps the first of those three is the better shot. Either way it does go to show that there’s always a shot out there, just be patient, don’t panic and in the end it’s not that important.
As always my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read this blog.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with Summicron 35mm Lens fitted.
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