“Who’s he taking pictures of”

“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.

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