Penny for the Guy, Columbia Road market, London 1998
I’ll start with the ‘old’ first. I was just looking through my archives looking for a suitable image to update a website this morning, and came across this photograph of three cheeky boys with their ‘Penny for the Guy‘. I had to stop and think about this street photograph shot in 1998, in the busy Columbia Road flower market in the East End of London. I vaguely remember making this photograph. It was a very chilly November morning, on Guy Fawke’s Day and I know it was the weekend, as the flower market is at its busiest. I shot it on film, yes, film, in those days, only 36 shots per roll.Fujifilm Neopan 400, Konica Hexar. I remember developing the film, printing and scanning it at home also. I doubt we shall see little boys wheeling pushchairs of Guy Fawkes nowadays in London, perhaps I’m wrong. I wonder what has become of these three boys today. I wonder if they will appreciate this photograph if I ever bump into them again on the streets. There are probably in their mid-20s today.
Some things never change in England. Like this 1970’s ice cream van. Kinda groovy isn’t it? I made this photograph just a couple of days ago in the Isle of Wight. The funny thing living here is that retro is so much alive. You can see these vans all along the coasts and beach resorts in England, selling 99 Flakes, homemade jams and cakes, fudges, tea and coffee, and Walls Ice.
I often photograph these scenes so as to remind myself that I don’t need to make ‘real meaningful’, award winning, social change photographs, all the time. I see many photographers nowadays seemingly pushing the boundaries to which they are comfortable with to make ‘impactful’ and ‘meaningful’ images, often leaving behind the more mundane everyday shots. Without the groundwork, and observational skills which need time to develop, many photographers try to run before they can walk.
I reproduce what Eric Peris, a close friend and much respected photographer has to say recently in his introduction printed in the KL Photoawards 2011 catalogue which is most relevant to this post.
“There is of course no formula as such how to capture those special moments that tell a story. The images comes from within you. They are of what you see. An important factor here is patience. Rush work produces poor results. What is missing is, perhaps, looking out of the box. At most times we in some way do mirror images that have been captured by leading photographers of the past. We respect their work and in some similar way try to apply it to our work. There is nothing wrong about this but one must take that bold step to “re-structure” what one sees to express what we really want the viewer to see.”