Sunday, March 16, 2008

Put Down The Camera And Move Away Slowly.........


Well, the old digital compact that started me out on my photographic adventures has finally been superseded. It's not broken as such, but the battery cover won't close properly anymore and needs to be held in place by sellotape. Not ideal, especially the way it chews batteries. It shall get it's final outing at Ibrox Park on Wednesday night, in the vain hope that Thistle can put one over the Jolly Old Hun. This leaves me with a slight quandry. My new camera is 300 quids worth and a little bulky for random use. It also makes me look like a terrorist on a recce run. Or at least what The Sun reckons a terrorist on a recce run looks like.

There I was, standing in Adeel on Friday night, waiting for my curry and absently perusing the pages of said daily tabloid. Theres a big article in it about a group of men, of mid-eastern origin, filming and photographing on the platform of a small railway station in the south side of Glasgow. The station attendant approached them and they scarpered. Fair enough, cause for some concern and all very suspicious but what annoyed me most was the ramping up of the fear factor, not just via the city-wide map of possible terror targets, but also via two different columns. One by a Sun hack recounting the time he got off the subway and saw someone with a digital camera standing on the steps leading out of the platform, the other by John Smeaton exhorting all to be vigilant and report anyone who looks a bit suspicious with their photography equipment. This is all fine and well, but lets be brutally fucking honest here, how many people are going to start reporting just anyone whose actions happen not to fit their particular frame of reference for what is normal behaviour? Surely a dangerous trend to start, considering the fact that the general tone was of the 'What sort of weirdo takes photos in the Underground/railway station/street anyway?' variety.

How do you explain that you wanted to take a shot of the train leaving the station and it's tail lights as they fade into the darkness of the tunnel?

I guess you don't..............

This is where I get twitchy. Very few people take cameras out when they see something interesting in the street. It is slightly eccentric behaviour I suppose, but no more eccentric than shouting at random passers by that they're "a pair of poofs" and that they"suck each others cocks". Just the latest in a very long list of deranged and retarded behaviour I witness every day in the street. After a while one yearns to stumble across a someone taking photographs of buildings and stuff.

I'm of the belief that more people should carry a camera. It's made me more observant, it's given me a new set of eyes almost. I'd even go as far as to say it's allowed me to express myself more concisely as a writer of mediocre short fiction............

Alas, I think I shall have to be more wary of what I do with a camera now, limit my use of it to the speedway, the football and the park where people have a frame of reference for what you're doing. What I hope doesn't happen is that hundreds of people decide to retrospectively report their sightings of people taking photos in 'odd places'. That would just be fucking chaos.

"Yes officer, it was about eight years ago when me and the wife were on holiday in Largs. There was a guy taking photos of the ferry and the slipway one day. It was very strange. Do you think he was in Al Queda?"

I think most of the sightings reported will be of me to be honest. Can't wait to see what my Photo-fit looks like........

6 comments:

Pewari said...

Totally agree - I feel very twitchy about getting the camera out in the high street or wherever these days. Even worse if there might accidentally be children in the shot (although being white and female must help to a certain extent as I wouldn't fit into the automatic stereotype of either paedophile or terrorist I hope).

I do find though, that I feel more confident if I'm shooting with the DSLR rather than the compact. Almost as if by being more obvious about taking the picture I feel less shifty. "Look at me, I'm *obviously* a serious photographer, rather than taking secret shots to learn how to blow up WHSmith".

last year's girl said...

I'm the opposite - I don't (yet) feel awkward about taking photographs in the street, but I think I would do if I was carrying anything more than my subtle compact.

Billy said...

Put one of those yellow visibility jackets on, then everyone will assume you're doing it in some official capacity and will totally ignore you.

Pewari Naan said...

Funnily enough, I was just thinking that today, Billy. I was out in town and there was a guy in a yellow fluorescent jacket on, and just about everyone glanced at him then instantly turned their gaze away. It's the equivalent of an invisibility cloak, I swear!

iLL Man said...

Pewari - Hello and welcome! Thankyou for turning me on to Fotonomy. Haven't put anything up recently, but It's great to have it. The big camera just makes me feel out of place, conspicuous.... I did a daily photo blog called Seven Days (it's in the sidebar under 'ill man elsewhere') and the thing that always vexed me was taking photos with people in them. I did find ways of doing it on the sly, a technique copied from Alan at This Moment, which worked well. Different things work for different folk. I just love random photgraphy. See something, snap it, then move on....

LYG - The weird thing is, people use their camera phones with impunity. I suppose you can pretend you're texting as you snap. People don't really know what yr up to.

Billy - Might be an idea. Maybe it's about time I traded in the dirty rain mac.......

Pewari Naan - This time with avatar.......... :)

Pewari Naan said...

Yes it got confused and auto logged me into the google account. Never sure which is for the best really :)

I'm glad you're liking Fotonomy - I really love the community there and the monthly challenges are always fun (I say that, because I run them, lol).

I have always struggled to take pictures directly of people too (and have gone the camera phone route for a similar photographic scavenger hunt thing where I needed to). Scene with people in who happen to be there - okay. Photo directly of passerby - scares the hell out of me.