A few old figurines, a “punk” decor and a punky toy story.
Clearing out old toys for a garage sale, couldn’t help messing about. No real point to these, just having fun.
Back from my brief summer road trip – a short tour of historic sights (sites) in Nprmandy and Brittany. Yes, rather than lolling round like a giant slug in the sun, this year we decided to do what real tourists do and be tourists (oh dear it is hard work being a tourist)
For your viewing pleasure, in this first flurry of holiday snaps – a few very unseaworthy boats. On holiday, I like nothing more than a stroll around a port, and I have a curious passion for sailing craft – the more unseaworthy the better. Snapped on this holiday (and a few previous ones) a selection of gloriously precarious and even dangerous vessels.
And now a few assorted small craft. No titles on these
Here’s one from Scotland circa 2011. Redolent of neglect. You wouldn’t treat a person like this. Why do this to a boat? Yes, boats have souls too.
And now something a little more seaworthy
Wishing you all plain sailing
First and foremost, a big thank you to all you other WordPressers who have been perusing and “liking” this blog, since I have been doing a majority of photo posts, there are more and more of you following my photographic exploits , I guess therefore that I might have to seriously consider adopting a more photo friendly format.
There are many of you who just use photos or words and photos. There are many of you who have definite photo styles – I’m still looking for my style, but I would cast it in the Walker Evans mode of “vernacular photography” -For years, without a serious photographic style or mentor, I have been snapping away at subjects that would cover Martin Parr, Al Wei Wei, Diane Arbus and Walker Evans, but for as long as I have been taking photos, until quite recently I had never actually heard of these iconic photographers. I was an exhibition of Diane Arbus photos in Paris in 2011 that put me on the track of serious photography. I didn’t change what I was doing, I just found a famous photographer who had taken the same photos that I was taking – so when I found Raymond depardon, Walker Evans and Martin Parr, pretty much by accident, I found that I was doing the same thing but without influence.
I think I do venacular photography, but I do a lot of street photos and urban photos, I just take clichés that I think are interesting, with the simple precept that “I am shooting this because no one else will bother.” The problem is now that with camera phones and Instagram, everyone is photographing everything, from what they they, what they wear to what they crap.
My computer is so old that I can’t use Instagram or any other site apart from Flick’r and, I refuse to use a camera phone. Phones are for phoning not for taking photos – yes, I still have a good old camera.
So, here I am off to London and then a tour of Northern France plenty of photo opportunities, but what is the style – Street? Urban? Venacular?
Here are a couple of clichés to highlight my problem. A photo of a smoker in the street and a photo of a building site. I think my photos are valid, but what is the style. As for the building site, the photo depicts the changing face of my town. One day this photo will be historic – meaning that the vernacular becomes the past. For you to judge. I’l just keep on snapping – but I want to get on Instagram. I want worldwide circulation, I want people to see these photos, because they are no more or less crap than any other images you might see on the Web.
It all started in the summer of 2003, with breakfast on a cross Channel ferry, plying that grey murky slim stretch of water between Dover and Calais. A full English breakfast with sausages, beans, french fries and … a whopping plateful of food that I was never going to finish – but before I bin it – just a quick photo. I had just acquired my first decent digital camera, so I tok a photo of my unfinished masterpiece (below) Hey, I’ve paid for this, I’m damn well gonna take a photo. And that was the day that I just started to take photos of “stuff”.
So for fifteen years or so, I’ve been taking photos of “crap”, or the kind of photos that others might qualify as “crap”, but recently seem to have become an art form. People have always asked me “why are you taking a photo of that?” as I point my camera towards a bin and photograph the anarchic accumulation of rubbish – I don’t see it as rubbish, this is a random, one off sculpture of 21st century living – and I am taking a photo of this because no one else will – and such has always been my photographic credo. Rubbish, people, places or just moments that no one else will bother to capture. I was doing this long before discovered the likes of Martin Parr, Raymond Depardon, Diane Arbus, Al Wei Wei – These are my favorite photographers, though I won’t say that they influenced me, I just discovered them as I took more interest in photography, though I am in no way a photographer.
I’ve always liked Hockney’s very photographic and vibrant style – bright flours, easy subjects – I don’t ned to look for an inner meaning, the work just speaks for itself. After sauntering through Mr Hockney’s “relaxed” universe, I stumble into another exhibition on the work of an American photographer Walker Evans.
How can I describe this – it is revelation, confirmation – over 300 prints of … well the sort of stuff I take shop fronts, abandoned buildings, window displays – using the camera to encapsulate all those people, places, objects and moments that no one else ill take because – “why are you taking a photo of that????”
In a kind of Walker Evans spirit, I wanted to show you the results of a day’s “snapping” in Paris. Seeing Mr Evan’s work has finally enabled me to put a name on my style of photography – vernacular photography.
I don’t know why, I’ve always loved taking photos from cars or trains to capture those landscapes we cross to get somewhere else – those dead parts of France we endure to get to the beach, or those flat, endless agricultural lands the train crosses on the way to Paris. Here are a few clichés of my journey. Notice I tend to use quite a few filters to make places just a slight more bleaker than they actually are. When I had my old reflex camera, I tried mucking around with filters but just gave it up as a fiddly gimmick.
I’m using an Olympus Stylus 1 as my main camera nowadays – lightweight and bristling with gimmicks – it’s a great little piece of gear, far better to the than the huge bulky old Nikon I used to have – you know, the massive Nikon with the 28 to 105 lens that everyone seems to have nowadays – for sure a great camera, but to heavy to carry round and deploy.
So, welcome to Paris
Here is Paris minus the Eiffel Tower and then two Eiffel Towers for the price of one – I’m playing round with an overlay feature on the camera.
This was the day that Donald Trump was in town and this was also the week that Paris welcomed the International Olympic Committee and “showcase” the city for ts 2024 Olympic bid. The lace has been cleaned up, and the homeless removed – on Monday 11th July there was a huge police operation to shut down and clear out camps of illegal immigrants along the Seine and in the north east of the city where the Olympic park is set to be built.
First off, one sleeping bag, all that remains of an illegal camp on the banks of the Seine.
Not all illegal camps were cleared, occasional tents can be seen here and there, this one is in the shadow of a church in the city’s St Paul area – right in the heart of downtown Paris
No trip to Paris is complete without photographing tourists or “Bloody Tourists” as local and traders curse, all the while taking their money or renting out their apartments to the tourist hordes on Air B’n’B – so rife is the Air B’n’B trade that the Paris city authorities are taking steps to regulate it. arms is beginning to suffer the fates of Air B’n’B twins like Venice, Barcelona and even Edinburgh – property promoters buying up empty flats purely for tourist rental, thus “gobbling up” the already limited stock of housing for the locals and ensuring that the downtown of many cities are now just tourist areas.
Bloody Tourists – we are, we have been and we will be one day. From the moment we leave home, everyone become’s someone else’s tourist. First there came the explorers, discovering new lands. Next came the settlers to exploit the lands, wiping out the locals and their traditions, and now here are the tourists who come to see those small vestige of what is left behind when something commonplace has become a rarity and thus “a tourist attraction” – I am just wondering if there are any Parisians living in the centre of Paris.
Ok, bloody tourists. Here we have some “orientals”, grouping together and then doing a Beatles-style crossing the the Rue de Rivoli.
Here are a few more without comment for your perusal
Thanks for reading the vernacular post
Out and about with the camera a few weeks ago. Drifting again, as as my won’t. For your pleasure a few more choice clichés of the beautiful French countryside. When are you all coming over to visit?
This wreck used to be one of our regions “hottest” night spots, the discothèque, the Number One – they used to be queueing for hours to get into this local mecca. I played a gig here with my band back in 1996. The place mysteriously burned down a few years back.
The Croix Blanche in Mehun sur Yévre. The hôtel is pretty much in the same state as the rest of the town.
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