I half stumbled over the Majikkon event at my local sports centre. I had been drawn to posters peppered around town, but essential information should as time and location had eluded me until I received the message “ you should see the fucking costumes outside the sports centre”. 20 minutes later I was in the foyer testing my internal M6 light meter coupled with new f2 50mm lens. It was gonna be tight. It would work at 1/60th give or take a stop wide open. Sick test for the new Zeiss, 10 bar was exchanged. A red wrist strap. 20 metre walk and my head blew up! I thought I was fairly informed on the subject matter of so-called geeky shit but the deep deeeeeep level that these people took it to was a whole different level. The niche of the niche. Manga characters brought to life, insane lifesize warcraft characters (researched post-event). A trackie bottom sporting outsider in a world of complete outsiders. Eye contact was a no go really, but making photographs was easy, every corner I turned was a treat for the lens. 2 rolls flew by faster than the 2 hours I was there. Roll on next year, maybe I can go as Peter Parker, but I feel that’s way too mainstream for these fuckers.
The weather is depressed today, the sky is a soaked wet grey blanket with no movement, and it’s cold, about 2 degrees. Three layers, big hat and murder gloves kind of weather. So why exactly am I walking around Huddersfield slowly soaking in something somewhere between sleet and drizzle? To make some photographs, obvs.
I was on a roll; twins in pink coats and matching Disney umbrellas; a nervous man carrying a big book on evolution; a large asian woman with her hands down the front of her pants and lots more creatures lurking out of the rain in the market.
It was a good walk, until I hit the mysterious 18th frame. I had just seen the best Indian eccentric in town and had ran around the block through the square and dashed across the road to put myself right in his path. Today his outfit of choice, a red christmas jumper, brown flares with heeled boots and a large brown leather case he kept holding up in front of himself at a 90 degree angle every ten steps.
I stepped up and snapped him just as he put the case down on the floor for another inspection. Frame 18. I hit the wind lever just to hear the familiar crunch of film skipping on its wheels. This problem has plagued my Pentax for weeks, and I can’t find a fix. I even asked a guy in a camera shop, and he had no idea. Funnily he has no idea about any camera I ask him about. My tip would be not to trust young men who dress like old men to sell old cameras as if that’s the only validation they need to be good at this job.
I ran into another shotta, I saw him last minute as he was photographing the tops of buildings and I rarely have time to look up. His camera was extremely silver and even had an orange light. Maybe a contax G2 I thought, fancy I thought. He was tall and dressed well, and my camera is black with no lights. I thought it best not to attempt any kind of discourse.
I guess I might need a new Pentax body, doesnt matter, nothing is important, but then again everything is important.
“Who’s he taking pictures of” the woman in this underwhelming photograph asked. She didn’t ask me, she asked the man with her. Her son I guessed, might not of been, but the best part of making photographs is making the stories to go with them.
So she asked her son, but I got the impression she was talking about me. Mainly because I had just made this image of her and was lowering my camera as she spoke. There was no need for the “you talkin’ to me” facial expression or mouth noises.
The question was deserving, unlike the past two weeks I have spent procrastinating over it. I knew as the words entered my brain space that it wasn’t going to sit well. I got a little cold and my hands began to sweat more than usual. I tasted a bit of sick as the process I have been obsessed with for many years unravelled in my mind.
Who am I taking pictures of; the words of Paddy Considine come to mind “you ya cunt”, but the meek half smile that gave me didn’t help. I am an equal-opportunity photographer, but to say I photograph anyone and everyone might not be true. I am drawn to eccentrics, the colourful and colourless, the young and the old, mostly the mundane. People with dogs are a gimme, men who wear old baseballs hats, women who match their jackets with their bags, a colour coded salwar kameez gets my heart-a-racing. I avoid the vulnerable, the dangerous, neck-tattooed eastern blockers with nothing but time and terror, more than anything I avoid bias and culture. I hope and try to look at the everyday in neutrality. I am hoarding faces, freezing them at 1/250th of a second at a time, light permitting.
The answer maybe “nobody”. The subject doesn’t matter. The process is the key and the camera the tool. My mantra flowing strong through a 50mm lens; Everything is important and nothing is important.
I still haven’t let myself answer the question, I just hope no-one ever asks me “why is he taking pictures”… I might never recover.