Sunday, August 21, 2005

An Afternoon at Seaburn; Photographic Falderals

Too sunny to stay indoors. And it's that stage of summer when every sunny day is precious. So we got the Metro to Seaburn. We had lunch at the La Fontaine pub. Excellent, it was: a proper Sunday's dinner with proper vegetables, you could tell that none of it had been either frozen or microwaved. Then we had a long walk along the beach, north towards Shields, and then back again along the promenade. I got a few photos.

The Minchella photo I converted to B&W as a tribute to Tony Ray-Jones,, whose photos I love. "Tribute"? Sounds a bit poncey, doesn't it?

The subject of photography occupies my mind somewhat. Affordable digital cameras and the internet have led to phenomena such as flickr and photoblogging. And that in turn has meant that everyone is learning from everyone else: you see an arresting image and think, "wow", and then, "why 'wow'?". That way, informally, hundreds of thousands of people are learning about form, framing, patterns, colour, light, incongruity, metaphor, and all of the things that make a good image.

Brendadada has some interesting things to say about this subject, (though I seem to have missed some of the earlier context of what's being said). Especially interesting is her questioning "how we as picture-takers are perceived in our own communities".

Because it's not just knowing what makes a good image, it's being able to be in a situation to get the image in the first place. When Ray-Jones, say, turned up at a seaside beauty contest he would have a big camera and clearly be regarded as a professional photographer. As such, he had a role and people could relax and he could click away. Then he could leave.

I was able to click away at Seaburn today because people traditionally take snaps at the seaside. But I feel much more constrained at the shops, or in the pub, whipping my wee Olympus out of my pocket. Forsooth.

A lot of that constraint is because I'm part of the community I live in, the people whose images I want to record are my own people. And always at the back of my mind I'm thinking, will people say: "That Garry Nixon was in here again the other night with his camera. The wanker."?