In Mid-July, I posted a piece, entitled “Drifting”. The post included some random photos and made the point that actually taking random photos is actually quite difficult because we must break out of those constraints that condition our photography. A random photwill probably be the kind of photo that no one else will take or ever consider taking -no nice family holiday snaps here – BUT, what do you take? Yes, that is the whole problem.
I was drifting round town this morning – Sunday bike ride – I always carry a camera, a neat little Panasonic/Lumix with a 16x zoom and a Leica lens. This little beauty sits nicely in my pocket, and it is just so full of effects … This camera is actually taking the place of my huge hefty Nikon. It give great quality photos and for random snapping it is just the ticket.
You have to be quick doing a random snap. You are obviously photographing something that no one else in their right mind would take: therefore you attract the attention of passers-by, whom always ask the same questions
“What are you taking photos of?”
“Why are you taking photos here?”
When people see a “random photographer” in the street taking photos of those subjects that are deemed of no holographic interest, well… frankly it makes them ill at ease. A few months back (January I think), I was taking photos of one of the main roads out of town, I mean not just snatched snaps – I was handing in the middle of the road taking nice wide angle shots – and there was the whole point; it was a grey January Sunday morning, it had been raining but between the grey clouds, there was a kind of sunny tinge. It made for a wet deserted road and kind of marble skies. As I snapped away, a rather short, rotund and clearly irritated gent of advancing years, approached me, waving his arms and almost shouting at me “What right do you have to take photos here?”
“Every right.” I replied. There were no signs up telling me I was in a restricted area where photography was forbidden, I was not snapping away at private property and I was not taking photos of individuals without their consent. The man though was clearly “angry” that I was taking photos. I explained that I was working on a photo project for our local Art College – well then it became okay. I had a reason and obviously because this was an art project, I was an artist and therefore some kind of nutter; looney but not dangerous.
I have multiple photographic excuses – my favorite – when photographing derelict, decrepit crumbling buildings, or shuttered up shops or dead cafés in far flung villages – I always say that I am photographing possible business premises for potential British investors – it works as an excuse.
Here are the crop of this morning’s random photos
Wrong Side of the Tracks?
Down by the station on the wrong side of the tracks. I suppose every town that is some way cut in two by a railway line has, a good side and a bad side of the tracks and the good/bad or right/wrong classification is purely subjective. So, I like to think that I live on the right side – the residential side near the downtown, on the other side of the tracks it’s all high rise social housing developments and the prison, but were I to live on the wrong side, I daresay that I would consider it the right side – no matter. As trains crawl into my local station, the name of the town is stenciled on to walls at regular intervals, just to let travellers know that they are where they are and not somewhere else. Why take this photo? Well I like the accompanying tags – not too sure what is written, but I like the idea, no matter how mediocre the tag work may be, someone has taken the time and trouble to brave the security and the danger of live rails and passing trains, to come down after day and tag the walls. I also quite like the tired and fading blue letters of “Bourges”, they kind of empitomise the lassitude of a small town on a hot summer’s day.
The next photos – “Central Garage” – two different treatments and slightly different views of the same subject. Both taken with different settings on my small camera. I like to play around with the various effects on the camera. Back in the days when I developed everything in a darkroom, both these photos would have taken hours to treat and develop, playing around with different color filters, exposure times and such like. I took this photo because … well, the red lettering on the Central Garage sign and the emptiness – the summer Sunday emptiness.
Next photo –
Here’s the story. This place is (was) called “Le Saphpyr” – a small and slightly seedy discothèque jus a few minutes walk from my home. Traditionally this place was the weekend haunt for men in the mid to late fifties looking to pick up a younger girl, and the place was always full of young ladies because it was full of oder guys on the prowl, who would always stand them drinks for the evening in the hope that … It has to be said as well, that the quality of the young ladies was such that younger men might not be interested – as for the 50+ recently-divorced male in search of a little company for his Sunday morning breakfast table – they weren’t too fussy. So, a few years back, the discothèque was revamped, rewired and repainted, to bring it dragging and screaming into the 21st century. Away the tired old provincial pick up joint and welcome to the new age of Rave – and the day the work had finished and the night before the grand opening, after six months of work – the whole discothèque was mysteriously gutted by fire- and so it has rem aimed in this state for five years – A dead Disco and in this aspect on the summer’s day, kind of symbolic of dead summer in a small town. (Just to say, provincial discos in France are pretty awful places, I’ll have to do a post about them.)
We are opposite our local Army base. The whole building used to be a very down-at-heel hotel cum halfway house – clients could rent rooms by the hour. So, with the growth of good cheap out-of-town hotels, the place went out of business and after a few years, the downstairs was developed into a Kebab restaurant – A kebab restaurant opposite and army base – could have been a sound business idea, except that on the same street with 200 yards there are also 2 other kebab restaurants.
Before the Chicken Shack, we had the Hotel. (photo circa 2013)
Last photo of the bunch. Something refreshing on a summer’s day. The morning after the night before, empty beer bottle floating in the local canal