Candid camera

Never go anywhere without a camera. You never know what will leap out. The best encounters are ambushes. They lurk in the most unlikely places. You don’t even need to look for them. Your radar is on. Your finger is on the trigger. The images watch you coming. The more unpromising the location, the better the crack. You cannot make it happen if it doesn’t want to. Try to force it and it shows. Go back to re-take and it’s gone.

This car cover had blown off the body and whipped by a gusty wind genuflected before the vehicle like an infatuated blimp. It danced and parried and bloomed and shrunk and billowed and flopped as if manifesting the unfulfilled dreams of the crappy old motor behind it. The Hoxton street was buzzing with passers-by but no one stopped to wallow in it. I could not believe how beautiful it was. A choreography of serendipity.

A photographer in the landscape is like a mote in the onlooker’s eye. It irritates the shit out of them because they can’t ‘see’ what is being seen. The mere body language of the visual hunter and gatherer sets the area on edge. I regularly get attacked. “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU LOOKING AT?” A woman in Barcelona could not think of any subject to snap so decided to take the photo I was shooting from the exact spot I was standing. She stood behind me for several minutes spitting invectives until I moved out of the way. In his wonderful book The Ongoing Moment, Geoff Dyer talks about great photographs being ‘…drenched in a sense of place…’. When I look through the viewfinder I am not taking a picture of something – but about something.


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